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Facebook Is SO Pumped For The VR Revolution

With money to burn, Facebook is betting its future on virtual reality, and made this pretty clear when it dropped $2 billion on Oculus VR in 2014. As we just learned, however, that was only the beginning.

Separate and apart from the Oculus deal, Facebook has already pumped $250 million into VR research and development -- and has set aside an additional $250 for future VR investments, Mark Zuckerberg told those tuning into this week's Oculus Connect event.

Of particular interest, $50 million of that cash has been set aside for mobile VR content, according to Facebook’s young CEO.

What sort of content are we talking about?

Naturally, there are games, including VR Sports Challenge, a sci-fi first-person shooter game named Arktika, and The Unspoken, which has been described as an “urban magic fight club.

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Zuckerberg and his team also unveiled Oculus Avatars, which give users an eerily lifelike presence in virtual environments.

The avatars can be customized to one’s liking, of course, and then put to use at “parties” -- where up to eight users can engage in virtual socializing -- as well in more private “rooms.”

The launch of the avatars and virtual environments are expected to coincide with the release of the Oculus Touch controllers -- which are necessary to operate an avatar -- in early December.

Taken together, Facebook’s pioneering vision for virtual social networking is starting to come into focus. Little by little, we’re all going to spend less time scrolling down Newsfeeds and direct messaging and more time interacting through our respective avatars.

From there, the possibilities are endless. Virtual searching; virtual shopping; virtual everything.

First, however, consumers have to be convinced to buy their Oculus Rift headsets ($599), Oculus Touch hand controls ($199), and, “for even deeper emersion,” special Oculus earbuds ($49) -- and, for “room scale” support, an additional sensor ($79).

With taxes, that means people are going to need about a grand to join what Facebook is betting will be the forthcoming VR revolution.

This column was previously published in Moblog on October 7, 2016.

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