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April 23, 2014

Facebook Purchase of Oculus VR Cleared By U.S. Antitrust Authorities


It was one of the biggest moves that many had seen in terms of video game hardware manufacture, and even beyond that; Facebook's move to purchase Oculus VR was a move met with plenty of skepticism and no small amount of controversy. Now, it's a move that's one step closer to reality, as Facebook has landed approval from United States antitrust authorities to make its purchase of the company, and complete its first-ever deal involving hardware.

The deal was, at last report, part of a list of several such deals that are regularly considered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice, a list that's updated several times a week. Now, with the approval in hand, the deal can go through and Facebook will be able to—as expressed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, place a bet on “the platforms of tomorrow.”

While the most obvious use for the Oculus Rift—Oculus VR's flagship device--was expressed in terms of video games, there are several more potential uses that have emerged around this device. Indeed, the value of the device in video gaming has already been made quite apparent; YouTube is littered with videos of game reviewers and “Let's Play”-style video makers going through mazes and the like with an Oculus Rift in play. But the same properties that allow users to sedately wander through a video game world are much the same properties that would allow users to sedately wander through the streets of Paris, London, Beijing, Las Vegas—developments that were previously noted by Zuckerberg when the questions came up around purchasing Oculus VR in the first place.

It could give rise to a kind of virtual tourism, in which users never leave the house, yet go on guided tours of major landmarks all as clearly as if present in the area. Cultural and artistic events from gallery openings to theatrical performances could be in line as well, with users getting the best seat in the house, and the venue owners able to sell said best seat hundreds of times over. The vaunted “theater experience” said to be keeping movie theaters alive may well be lost forever with this; it would simulate a movie house almost completely, even down to a massive crystal chandelier overhead for those so inclined. Business use, meanwhile, is all but assured as it would put users so effectively in the same room together that the need for business travel—with its expense and lost opportunity—would dissipate. The Oculus Rift's use in videoconferencing, particularly when connected to Web-based real time communications (WebRTC), would likely become a new standard in the field.

This is really only the beginning; the Oculus Rift could have impact in a host of different ways and fields, business and personal alike. With the conclusion of this deal, meanwhile, Facebook now has a major chunk of the future potentially in its hands. This could be the start of something very big, though only time will tell just where it ultimately goes.




Edited by Maurice Nagle


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