At this year’s Facebook F8 conference, mixed reality stole the show. Mark Zuckerberg walked out with his usual combination of charm, intelligence, and a hint of childish humor, prepared to reveal the company’s latest (and greatest) ambition yet: Facebook Spaces – a mixed reality platform that puts the social in social media using virtual and augmented reality.
When Facebook bought off the VR company Oculus, there were many (predominantly within the gaming community) who were quite skeptical of what the company could bring to virtual reality. For the rest of us, however, we saw the vision as clear as day. VR might be great for gaming, but there’s so much more potential. With Facebook Spaces, the vision is beginning to materialize.
Now available in beta for the Oculus Rift, people will be able to create their own virtual avatar based on their Facebook default image and enter the virtual world alongside the rest of the social media community. From there, you’ll be able to intermingle with all of your friends, regardless of distance, as if they’re standing right in front of you. You’ll be able to create virtual objects together, share images, take selfies, and you’ll also be able to bring in people from the offline world through a simple call of their smartphone.
Five to ten years from now, mixed reality will become as commonplace as smartphone are today. Using a combination of smartphones and glasses, people will be able to enter the virtual world with ease and take part in a grand social experiment. Similar to the life-simulation Second Life, Facebook Spaces will open up a brand new platform for community social engagement in a scale beyond comprehension.
We’ll be able to bring those virtual objects (and people) into our own physical space using advanced augmented reality (AR). Whether we’re sitting on our couch at home or walking down the street, your virtual community will be able to join you. The childish wonder of having an imaginary friend will then materialize into a symbiotic physical-virtual cohesive unit that’ll enhance and augment our day-to-day material lives.
“We’re all about extending the physical world online. When you become friends with someone or become part of a community on Facebook, your real relationships and physical communities become stronger. AR is going to help us mix the digital and the physical in new ways, and make our physical lives better. That’s why it’s so important, and this is just the beginning.”
– Mark Zuckerberg,
Chairman & CEO of Facebook
Thirty to fifty years from now, smartphones will have potentially gone extinct. In their place will be advanced mixed reality. By this point, the physical and virtual will begin blurring to such a significant extent that it’ll become increasingly difficult in differentiating the two. Not only will the virtual world become etched into our own physical space, but the two will become interactive with one another. What happens in the virtual world will affect the material world, and vice versa.
Not only will we be able to immerse ourselves into the virtual world, but the virtual will also immerse itself into our world; not only will we be able to reach out into the virtual world and feel its pixelated texture, but the virtual will also be able to reach out and feel us! Everything we see could potentially be either physical or virtual. By that time, however, will it even matter if something is physical or virtual?
Photo Credit: Facebook