[Virtual Reality] is the last medium. We’re at the very beginning of it, but version 147 is The Matrix or Total Recall. Our brain is no longer translating an approximation of the story. You read a book; your brain reads letters printed in ink on paper and transforms that into a world. You watch a movie; you’re seeing imagery inside of a rectangle while you’re sitting inside a room, and your brain translates that into a world. And you connect to this even though you know it’s not real, but because you’re in the habit of suspending disbelief.
With virtual reality, you’re essentially hacking the visual-audio system of your brain and feeding it a set of stimuli that’s close enough to the stimuli it expects that it sees it as truth. Instead of suspending your disbelief, you actually have to remind yourself not to believe.
-Chris Milk, from The Last Medium (the whole article is excellent)
I’ve seen a handful of technology demos in my life that made me feel like I was glimpsing into the future. The best ones were: the Apple II, the Macintosh, Netscape, Google, the iPhone, and – most recently – the Oculus Rift.
Virtual reality has long been a staple of science fiction. In real life, however, attempts to create virtual reality have consistently disappointed. Oculus was founded on the contrarian belief that the right people at the right time could finally deliver on the science fiction promise. Hardware components had become sufficiently powerful and inexpensive, and the pioneering engineers who invented 3D gaming were eager to explore a new frontier.
Last year, my partner Gil Shafir and I spent time studying Oculus and virtual reality technology more generally. The more we learned, the more we became convinced that virtual reality would become central to the next great wave of computing. We were therefore thrilled when we got the chance to invest in Oculus later on.
Today, Facebook announced that they are acquiring Oculus. Facebook’s support will dramatically accelerate the development of the virtual reality ecosystem. While we are sad to no longer be working with Oculus, we are very happy to see virtual reality receive the support it deserves.
I can’t say enough about the Oculus team. Palmer, Brendan, John, Nate, and the rest of the team are true technology visionaries. They’ve assembled an incredible group of creative technologists from diverse fields. It was awesome tagging along for the ride, and I can’t wait to see what they do at Facebook.