Developer conferences aren’t known for their strong shoe game.
If all I knew about Silicon Valley came from HBO and Palmer Luckey’s 2014 Time magazine cover, I might’ve considered wearing a pair of flip-flops to last week’s OC5.
Oculus Connect is Facebook’s annual VR developer conference, where attendees are transported from the San Jose Convention Center to the future of reality, through the company’s awe-inspiring virtual reality headsets.
Casual shoes in the Valley follow their own trends. Five years after Facebook paid $2.3 billion dollars for Oculus, Palmer Luckey’s Kickstarted company – VR isn’t dead. But Luckey and flip-flops are out.
Facebook’s highly anticipated tetherless, room-scale VR headset, the Oculus Quest, athleisure power sneakers and metallics, are in.
Like Paris strutting its superiority during Fashion Week, OC5’s 2-day spring preview of the Quest, formerly known as Project Santa Cruz, is Menlo Park’s answer to anyone who doubts Facebook’s reign as the nexus of the VR industry or VR’s viability as a platform.
This is the headset we’ve been waiting for: an all-in-one device that doesn’t require a PC, a new phone or cables.
The Quest has “Oculus Insight” four, wide-angle sensors and computer vision algorithms to track the users position and hand controllers in real-time so there’s no fussing with external sensors.
Oculus Insight provides a more functional and immersive experience – the six degrees of freedom everyone wants in a headset, including the capability for “arena-scale” activities.
Walking the convention hall, surrounded by attendees taking selfies and re-connecting with friends they usually meet in the metaverse, through social VR platforms like Facebook Spaces, AltSpace, VRChat and High Fidelity, I began contemplating how VR intersects all walks of life. How can we remain grounded as we begin adding and managing new digital realities to our existence?
While everyone was looking up, I kept my phone camera aimed at the floor. I wanted to catch “the soles”, if you will, paving the way to the future.
“The journey of a thousand miles…”
Laugh today. Buy tomorrow. However ridiculous virtual reality may seem now, immersive, mixed-reality experiences including augmented reality are going to define how we design, work, play, fight, and collaborate in the near future.
While OC5 attendees are currently among the 1% of the billion people Mark Zuckerberg aims to put in VR eventually, soon real-world interactions and physical office spaces could become the exception, not the rule.
Trying Oculus Quest at OC5 changed my ideas about life, as advertised, in the future.
It’s not about flying cars, or even a ticket to Mars. Right now VR can take you anywhere you can imagine – including Mars, in your pajamas without ever having to leave the house. No passport required.
In spring 2019, Oculus Quest will cut VR’s cords and hefty PC requirements for a retail price of $399, the current price of their tethered Rift.
With 5G, and racetrack memory on the horizon (pending the trade war with China, natch), the industry is poised to resolve lingering challenges for mainstream traction, and I may never have to buy shoes again.
Until then, I advise anyone going to OC6 next year to put their best foot forward.