Facebook to Buy Oculus VR

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Facebook has agreed to purchase Oculus VR. The press values the deal at about $2 Billion USD in cash and stock. This is great news for Oculus’ investors. The rest of the world has a decidedly different opinion. [Notch], the outspoken creator of Minecraft, was quick to tweet that a possible rift port has now been canceled, as Facebook creeps him out. He followed this up with a blog post.

I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

Here at Hackaday, we’ve been waiting a long time for affordable virtual reality. We’ve followed Oculus since the early days, all the way up through the recent open source hardware release of their latency tester. Our early opinion on the buyout is not very positive. Facebook isn’t exactly known for contributions to open source software or hardware, nor are they held in high regard for standardization in their games API. Only time will tell what this deal really means for the Rift.

The news isn’t all dark though. While Oculus VR has been a major catalyst for virtual reality displays, there are other players. We’ve got our eggs in the castAR basket. [Jeri, Rick] and the rest of the Technical Illusions crew have been producing some great demos while preparing CastAR for manufacture. Sony is also preparing Project Morpheus. The VR ball is rolling. We just hope it keeps on rolling – right into our living rooms.

Comments

  1. ssshaker says:

    I’m a little confused by the claims in this article. First off people may not like facebook as a service but facebook IS friendly in the open source community. Cassandra is used by a lot of companies, to name one project. They started it.

    Secondly, if im not mistaken, castar is not at all like the rift. I mean, it has AR in the name for a reason. Sure you can make a VR experience by covering up the real world, but I can also make a half-decent VR experience with a smartphone and durovis dive. It’s still not as good as the DK1. Also mind you unlike other companies oculus has something that actually exists and is proven in the field. Anyway I’m not thrilled about the news.

    • Zharguy says:

      https://code.facebook.com/projects/

      Considering they’re put out stuff like HHVM and Open Compute, I think it can be said that Facebook’s a pretty decent OSS/HW contributor, relative to the other big tech companies.

      • The article’s claim that “Facebook isn’t exactly known for contributions to open source software” is bizarre. They have contribued HHVM, the Hack language, thrift, phabricator, the React library, rocksdb, and lots of other stuff, big and small. And unless I miscounted, their github repository has 117 different projects on them. Not everything there is some major package and some things are just their patches to other open source software. But there is a *lot* there, and I don’t see how anyone could make the claim the author did.

        https://github.com/facebook

        The author may now apologize.

        • qwtre says:

          It has 61 members. It is more like 61 people that work at facebook contribute to OSS, not the corporation itself. Unless, of course, you are silly enough to think only 61 people work at facebook. Either way, this is a tactic that many companies use. Abusing a fallacy of composition to take ownership of good works done by employees.

          You may now apologize.

          • ssshaker says:

            lol I work at such a company and you’re pretty much wrong. Also you wouldn’t expect to see the numbers of facebook’s entire employee roster on github. You think HR, payroll, legal, marketing, sales write code? I’m sure there’s more than 61 developers but most open source projects have 1-5 people work on it, statistically. The stats exist out there, authored by the linux foundation for one.

            I’m certain that facebook uses the OSS, like cassandra. They can’t own the work done by the employees, it’s open source. Duh. They can maybe take the credit but if anyone really cared they could find out who did the check-ins.

            Forget how many people maintain the main codeline, HHVM alone has 1,300 forks.

            You may go do your homework or stfu now.

          • Not sure what I’m supposed to apologize about. Facebook as a corporation is fully behind contributing back to the open source community and has done so. That’s not surprising considering that much of what they have built on is also open source. They got value from it, they give value back. It’s pretty simple. And it wouldn’t matter if it was 61 employees or 1– their contributions they make are significant. These aren’t just halfhearted hacks employees slapped together to make them look good.

            The OP, and you, are wrong. And all the OP and you needed to do is go to their github repository, note the most active projects listed there, and then Google to see that Facebook’s contributions to open source are significant. That you don’t do that suggests you’re knee-jerking about Facebook.

            I have no great love or hate for Facebook. When they do bad/questionable things I have no problem pointing that out. But when they do good things I will also point that out.

        • I was just coming here to say this. Facebook contributes great things to the Open Source community, and they’re making it easier to build projects that scale.

    • Spacedog says:

      CastAR has 3 modes of operation including full VR (via clip on optics) and outclasses the Rift in many specifications including resolution, tracking accuracy, low persistence, display refresh rate, and display fill rate.

      Here is a good comparison of features…

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApTBEPEA_odkdHp5Y2d5a3R4NkZOTUlNWENDd3VHTWc&usp=sharing#gid=0

      • ssshaker says:

        I’m going to continue to research but I don’t see it based on what I read

        First off that spreadsheet is very much wrong/outdated but going by that first off I’ll say the CastAR does not beat the Rift (DK2 and production) in resolution. Go do the math, it’s very simple. The DK2 has a quarter million more pixels. CastAR has more horizontal pixels but this doesn’t make sense. That’s not how our eyes work, a single eye has a pretty square resolution. The rift’s per eye resolution is pretty square.

        Considering CastAR is 720p x 2, I’m willing to bet they are using two screens/projectors. You can read all about how that’s problematic, frame sync wise.

        At best you can say that CastAR’s specs (on paper) beat the DK1 which came out a year ago. CastAR doesn’t even have anything out yet, it’s all just a promise at this point. So the comparison doesn’t really mean anything.

        CastAR does not beat the Rift (DK2 and prod) in low persistence. The DK2 has full persistence, the CastAR is 3ms.

        CastAR doesn’t advertise their inertial head tracking. Rift on DK1 is 1000hz.

        Cast’s positional tracking is 120hz, Rift is 60hz. Once again Rift’s actually exists as a real product, and it’s not the final product (or maybe it will be). Either way they put the time into making a custom one probably for a good reason. Maybe HZ aren’t all that matter in good positional tracking.

        The display refresh rate/fill rate of the CastAR is different than the Rift, I’m not convinced that means it’s better. First the pixel switching time on the DK2 is better. Second the refresh on the CastAR is 120hz but that’s because it’s active shutter. That’s like saying a 3d TV is better than a rift because it’s 120hz active shutter. Active shutter really sucks, so I’m skeptical that they were able to do this in a good way.

        And once again i’ll remind people that you’re comparing a devkit that exists in real life to an unproven promise on paper. Until other companies actually put something out the rift is still the only one that exists.

        I’m convinced that the technology between castar and oculusvr are apples and oranges. Just take a look at what they do and how they do it. I have a rift, I’ve seen it, it exists. You can’t say the castAR is any good until you try it on, and I’m pretty sure based on what I know so far, that it won’t be at all similar. It might be something I’ll also pick up, ESPECIALLY if they are different.

        I would like to be able to say more about castAR but they have almost zero technical data on their site, a sparse wiki. Oculus has done a great job at being certainly more open then CastAR here. Getting actual software and documentation our before their product first shipped.

        CastAR is meant for AR, just look at the product, this isn’t going to immerse you like the Rift, it isn’t designed for VR from the ground up. It’s like saying the durovis dive is a VR unit mean while I can see through the thing into the real world, and the software/community sucks.

        • ssshaker says:

          ok now that I’ve read more about CastAR, realizing that’s it’s just a 3d “pico” projector, that relies on a particular reflective surface, this is dog shit. I’m sorry. It might be a cool product but you really need to understand that you can’t compare something like this to something like Oculus or what Sony’s working on. It’s like comparing fruit loops to the number W.

          • Spacedog says:

            keep reading, you obviously have a chip on your shoulder because you ignored the stats (which are up to date, this sheep was made in the past week with all available information and is freely editable by those who can verify information like a wiki) and appear willfully ignorant of the clip-on optics and other modes of operation when referring to the retro surface being the only mode of operation and the implication that projector aspect ratio is fixed and cannot be optimized for VR by optical transitions. also 2x720p > pixels than 1x1080p panel, more so after considering dead space around the perimeter of LCD optics.

            I would encourage others to read the comparison sheet carefully and draw their on conclusions regarding the advantages and disadvantages. of the various VR options available.

    • S says:

      “Secondly, if im not mistaken [...]“

      Yes, you are mistaken.

    • Whatnot says:

      Yes all big players try to kill the open source concept from the inside.
      And it’s useless to sensible people who have blocked everything facebook.
      .
      But if you think it’s raining because they say it is while pissing in your ear.. good for you I guess.. while you manage to convince yourself.

  2. fred says:

    rip

  3. Faceman2k14 says:

    Looks like i’m going to stick with my old 640×480 Vuzix VR920 headset from a decade ago.

  4. Telek says:

    There are plenty of other VR headsets coming out – let FB take it and popularize the concept, get more people interested in it, show us some big integrations, and then let the competition (which will be spurred by this) bring the pricing down so that we can all enjoy it, FB or not.

    • Stu says:

      I think so too, there will definitely be competition from the small players, but it’ll be years away, and even then is reliant on one of those upstarts getting a decent cash injection to do it right, with the right screen technologies, Oculus managed this with a decent KS and a 70 million investment.
      Now Oculus have effectively shat on the burgeoning community and pissed off an awful lot of its community devs, content creators, general enthusiasts, pre-orderers, etc.
      Give it some years yet for the alternatives.

  5. Philipp says:

    I don’t like facebook very much they have some very interesting open source libraries and projects: react and hhvm for example. more at: https://github.com/facebook

  6. Austin says:

    Facebook is a great open source hardware contributor. The Open Compute project is doing great things for the large scale computing infrastructure. Their designs bring low cost and efficient alternatives into the public domain for anyone to learn from and utilize. I feel that this partnership will do great things for the VR community and will only serve to get the Oculus we love faster, and at higher quality with lower cost. All of this rampant speculation and denouncing of Oculus will only harm the potential of VR technology.

    • tekkieneet says:

      NSA was friendly to open source with their code contributions too… e.g. SELinux
      Until the community realized that NSA and their code cannot be trusted.

      • whitequark says:

        No code should be trusted because of its origin. Trust stems from exhaustive independent review, and when it is done, origin is irrelevant.

        • qwtre says:

          You might want to look up how PKI, Certificate Authorities, and chains of trust work. There is no trust on the entirety of the internet that can be exhaustively independently reviewed, because, of course, you have to trust the reviewers too.

          It’s independent reviewers all the way down.

  7. Adam Jensen says:

    http://www.reddit.com/user/palmerluckey

    Before everyone gets out the pitchforks &/or cements their opinions, Palmer Luckey has been fielding questions all day on Reddit. It’s probably worth forming your opinions based on information straight from the horses mouth without the blog distortion filter/bias.

    I’m not super-keen about Facebook having a controlling interest in anything I’m fond of, but Palmer Luckey is making some fairly strong commitments to the community in a public forum like Reddit. The Oculus SDK can’t bottle-up screen distortions or HUD+IMU hardware under excessively obnoxious conditions without exposing their flank to competition.

    The $2 billion in capital injection could turn Oculus in to a serious pioneer in Humanity+ technology.

  8. ScottishCaptain says:

    To quote someone on Slashdot:

    “It what sense is this like being killed off?”

    Oculus wanted to sell you a monitor. It’s in 3D, it straps to your face, it tracks your head, it does a bunch of way-cool stuff, but fundamentally it’s just a screen.

    Facebook doesn’t want to sell you a screen. Or a keyboard, or a THING. They want to sell you an ECOSYSTEM. They want you to provide them with your data. They want you to be their product. Their continuing revenue stream.

    I just want the screen.

  9. tadpole says:

    As a kickstart backer this is really disappointing. I was looking forward to a headset with cross platform comparability and a large expanding developer base. Due to the fact that FB now owns it, you can assume much of thesw wishes are history. I now expect NDAs, only big namelayers as developers, lawsuits with competitors, and attempts to leverage the original idea into a way to gain marketing info from my person while ‘in game’. Sad days.

    • franklyn says:

      Why ?, facebook itself is cross platform compatible and most of the software they’ve open sourced is also cross platform compatible. Do they only allow big name players to use their API ? hell no.

      I feel like there is a lot of unwarranted hate for FB on here.

    • john smith says:

      Even more concerning is the internal communications mentioned on reddit. Internally they’re talking about the ability to integrate with facebook, and utilise their payments system, as if the ultimate goal of the Oculus had always been 3D farmville and micropayments. Perhaps it won’t come to that, but it certainly seems like they want to use facebook’s payments system, and to integrate it with facebook. That doesn’t even seem to be speculation anymore.

  10. StinkySteve says:

    Hmm FB always seems to come late to the party. They bought Whatsapp just as other alternatives are becoming super popular. They buy Oculus VR just as Sony announce something which is likely going to blow it out of the water.

  11. cpldcpu says:

    This one will be interesting to watch. Sony vs. Facebook. Facebook bought a tighly knit startup with a tiny, enthusiastic, but still relatively inexperienced (in hardware) dev team. Sony has none of these qualities, but they have all the low level engineering capabilities (display, system integration) in house and can probably scale from zero to a fairly large project organisation in no time. Oculus / FB, on the other hand, needs to outsource all the low level engineering work. I don’t know whether they already have an efficient structure in place to scale hardware engineering projects and if they are able to transfer it to the Oculus team.

    So it’s still David vs. Goliath, only that FB had to spend a lot more money on David than Goliath had to spend internally.

    • Greenaum says:

      Sony are pretty evil and greedy themselves. It would’ve been nice for an independent, initially small, company to be the masters of popular VR. And people seemed to think OR were quite nice people. Still, even if OR had been successful by themselves, they’d have grown into a massive corporation and ended up evil anyway. The way it goes. It’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s a necessary part of capitalism.

      If being a massive dick gets you a couple of cents advantage on your competitor, you have to do it. Cos if you don’t, he will, your shareholders flock to him, and you and your ethics and morals die and become irrelevant. Capitalism and the share market make profit the only motive. For corporations to behave ethically on their own initiative is impossible, unless those ethics happen to be the most profitable way of acting.

      “Don’t be evil”, Google said. Aaah, sweet innocence!

  12. Oculus VR was already gonna have billions in sales, why did they decide to let Facebook buy them? As a hardware hacker, looks like a teardown and reverse engineering of the new devices is in order. I think FB is positioning itself for patent enforcement so that other companies can’t come out with their own HMDs, just like FB has a monopoly on social networking. I was hoping that the Oculus Rift would merge with the Avegant Glyph’s retina display, Meta’s Spaceglasses AR to create the all-in-one head mounted tool but it seems like its gonna be a copyright war.

    • k9spy says:

      Yeap…. seems like they will probably go full-retard like they do on everything else. Sad. RIP Oculus VR.

    • Whatnot says:

      Basically you cannot trust US based things anymore at all. It’s a sad state of affairs.
      Even the big open source and non-profit orgs are slowly falling like whittled trees.

    • Greenaum says:

      Patent-wise, fastening displays to people’s heads is well-established technology, so it’d have to be some pretty specific things they’d patent. Then again patents are a bit of a cruel joke nowadays.

  13. k9spy says:

    Yeap. Oculus! You’re DEAD to me!

  14. I say why worry about what FB might do when Sony has proven over and over what they will do.

    • k9spy says:

      “Sony came in like a wrec-king baaall!” I used to be a real fanboi of Sony in the 90’s . then they’re products went to poop or at least revealed themselves to ME to be poop. then the Playstation 3 feature reduction fiasco happened and I will NEVER buy another Sony product again. I am NOT happy to give them royalties for Blu-Ray discs… it actually crosses my mind every time my wife picks one up… “Damn. More money to Sony. Bastards!”

      • Yep. My Sony Mavica 2 MP camera with the floppy drive was a great bit of kit back in the day as was my minidisc recorder, my condenser mic and a ton of other gear but Sony will never get another red cent from me.

        • Whatnot says:

          I too boycott sony, not only did they several times install spyware on my computer that I had to remove manually, but of course they are the TV and movie industry and are the RIAA/MPAA, and think they are the owners of all people.

  15. Krusty says:

    Candy Crush 3D in 3… 2… 1…

  16. Alex Wojtak says:

    The big issue with this is that kickstarter is pretty darn close to just plain giving your money to someone just because you believe in them. Over a thousand people chipped in at a level that got them no rewards at all, just because they wanted to support Oculus. If facebook started a kickstarter, I can practically guarantee almost none of those (if not absolutely none) would have just given them money. The reason is that people believed in the Oculus Rift, whereas people have seen the dreadful things facebook have done. Facebook is a monolithic empire, and all the donations just to support Oculus Rift now seem wasted.

    Personally I backed castAR, and this is nothing but good news for those guys.

    The other big problem is that this move is going to hurt all kickstarter projects. People will no longer think “Do I want to support this team?” and “Can they make this product?” but now they might also be wondering “Am I just funding the next acquisition by a soulless billion dollar multinational?”

  17. Cyk says:

    Some people must have known about this in advance, because ebay was flooded with Oculus’ a week ago.

    My concern is that every application for the Oculus will be hardwired to facebook in the future, and the user will have no possibility to keep it from phoning home.

  18. neon22 says:

    I thought it was April 1 there for a second. wtf!

  19. Joe says:

    My concern is advertisements or Facebook killing off the project once if it begins to think it is no longer profitable.

    • qwtre says:

      Well, lest just assume $50 profit per unit. A measure that is far too high as most analysts believe all xbox models and the last two playstation models have been selling at a slight loss. They would have to sell fourty million units just to break even on their initial investment. Do you really think that this thing will twenty times more popular than prius? One out of every two xbox owners strapping this thing to their face to play cod? One out of seven homes in the US having one hanging around somewhere?

      Of course not. It is a niche product of a niche industry. They can’t expand it’s appeal without making it featherlight and socially desirable to average people that don’t play videogames and like novel tech. That is something that nobody has done with a product that lacks utility. Simply put. it is not profitable from the start.

  20. R says:

    I don’t like Facebook either, but to be fair, they do a significant amount of open source work. For example, the main Linux kernel btrfs developers and maintainers work for them.

  21. Lord Nothing says:

    people need to stop giving facebook money

  22. Be end says:

    Can someone please explain to me how open source tech can command 2 billion dollars??!?

    I can’t imagine the negotiation.
    Rift: I want to billion.
    Fb: for what? The open source tech that can be copied instantly?
    Rift: no, for the BRAND.
    Fb: oooooohhhh aaaahhhh brand!

  23. Mark says:

    I hate what facebook (the website) has become as much as the next guy, BUT, if you ever want to see the next leap in VR (ie metaverse), you’re going to need a big company to back it. One that can get VR hardware in the hands of the population at large. One with a huge networking infrastructure already in place. Google seems to be more into AR than VR.

    Maybe Valve can hustle their butts and create a better metaverse first.

  24. scorinth says:

    I was getting pretty excited and ready to start saving up for one of the new dev kits… *Was*
    At least this news came out before I spent real money on it. RIP Oculus.

  25. Whatnot says:

    For me this is the death of oculus, I’ll be damned if I ever buy a facebook product, or make a damn FB account to order one..
    And it’s a awful betrayal by the oculus people, no matter what bullshit excuses they spout.

    It’s interesting btw how after so many incidents my view of kickstarters has now slowly changed to ‘a foul scam setup’, take the money and run and/or betray what you presented yourself as. And lately you see even stuff that is clearly corporate and scam from the outset.

  26. This is a travesty and will be used to spy on people, Carmack has always been a sell out when the sensors are used to spy into peoples rooms for the first time who will fire up the first legal repercussion my bet is on GERMANY..

  27. dan tan says:

    Carl Zeiss has vr glasses also…

  28. tangomilonga says:

    “Hack a day” tries to be “engadget” now, which is to say I can’t imagine how announcement about this deal can be repeated here after other thousands of bloggers with strait face, other then just fishing for clicks.
    Just don’t expect that true hackers will hang around here for much longer.

  29. Mr. Bright says:

    +OK RIFT, please like this …. Am I the only one the notice that FB actually bought this to compete with Google glass (well, kind of – I don’t think people will start walking around wearing Rift without at least half decent forward vision… Not to say that this thing looks hideously hipster wearing it outside four walls)

  30. XOIIO says:

    Why the hell do they want VR stuff?

    Sigh, this might not end well at all.

  31. bsnow says:

    Facebook buys Oculus, facebook buys secondlife, merge all 3 = matrix

  32. justice099 says:

    Kinda cracks me up to see a bunch of names nobody has ever seen around here before suddenly show up to defend facebook. lol

  33. OK, fine. You’re pissed. So build one you like, or hack theirs. THIS sounds like the next Mooltipass project…

  34. NewCommentor1283 says:

    thats too bad,
    i was actually starting to warm up to the idea of VR by oculus.

    now ill have to scrap that idea and go with somebody that can sell me a display-device that doesnt need a facebook account AND browser/plugin updates just so it can work for 6 months until it gets broken by updates

  35. Andrew says:

    I was wondering about all the hype around Oculus and can’t really see it used much “in the living room”.

    However it has a great potential for FPV flying. I was going to order the devkit 2 when the announcement came, but it still is the only offering with specs like this, so I just ordered it anyway. By the way have any hackers figured out a hack to order to Europe at US prices? (The oculus is $10o if you select US shipping and billing addresses)

  36. Dra says:

    Yup…the rift is dead, in every practical sense as a gaming peripheral. Sad to say. Every single time facebook tries to touch gaming it turns into a soul-sucking low-budget pay to win shitfest…I don’t even want to think about what they will do to the rift.

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