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Mark Zuckerberg's Absurd 'Social VR' Demo Was Brutal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed off the company’s experiments with social virtual reality experiences that allow you to chat with your friends using avatars in headsets like Oculus’s Rift. It was really weird. The demo app allows you to chat with avatars of your friends, travel to places like Mars or Facebook’s Headquarters, and take virtual reality selfies to share to Facebook.

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Illustration for article titled Mark Zuckerbergs Absurd Social VR Demo Was Brutal

Zuck showed off the demo at the third annual Oculus Connect conference in San Jose, California. Virtual reality fans have been waiting for Facebook to roll out an app for the Oculus platform since it acquired the company for $2 billion in 2014.

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Zuck video chatting with his wife in virtual reality.
Zuck video chatting with his wife in virtual reality.

The demo was, as you might expect, pretty odd and rough around the edges. Zuckerberg’s friends showed off their avatar’s facial expressions, traveled to Mars, played chess in Zuckerberg’s office, and eventually traveled to the CEO’s home to take a selfie with his dog and wife. Zuck was able to audio chat with his friends using the Oculus headset, and video chat with his wife using Facebook Messenger.

Beyond Zuck’s experimental demo, Oculus created some actual new tools for the Rift platform that will allow you to interact with other people in social environments. You can create your own personal avatar and hang out with your friends in a “Room.” You can also join a group of friends to play a game together, or to watch Hulu. Oculus is making it super easy to join a group of friends in virtual reality, and then all use an app together.

“When you start a party with friends with a single click you can join a virtual physical space together,” Oculus product manager Lauren Vegter said. “The real magic of social is hanging out together with friends and family, no matter where they are.”

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Facebook is a social company. While Oculus was founded by gamers, built for gamers, and primarily offers games on its platform, it’s clear that it wasn’t going to stay that way forever.

Most of the ready apps are still pretty rudimentary. Zuckerberg didn’t mention when his crazy app would be available. It appears this is just an experimental demo for now, which is fine, because to be honest, we don’t want to use anything that works like this anyways.

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Staff Writer, Gizmodo | Send me tips: william.turton@gizmodo.com

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DISCUSSION

This is a solution in search of a problem. And this is not the solution.

I put this tech right up there with 3D printers - fun while it lasted, but not something that will succeed in the mainstream consumer tech world.