Virtual reality 'can fundamentally change communication,' says Oculus CEO

On the cusp of virtual interaction

Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe is probably eagerly watching the world react to Facebook's acquisition of the company he's largely responsible for in a deal that could weave VR into the very fabric of our social selves.

Based on a conversation we had with him at GDC 2014, he's likely very pleased with the purchase, and not just because of the approx. $2 billion (about £1.2b, AU$2.1b) payout.

"It's going to go far beyond just games," Iribe pronounced to TechRadar about Oculus Rift. "We really believe the ultimate application for this is actually social communications. That's where it's long-term going to go."

Iribe blurted this out in an almost you-have-to-hear-this manner. He was being ushered off to another meeting, but wanted to impart this final promise in Oculus Rift's potential, and perhaps give a little wink to today's $2 billion revelation.

Be anywhere

He continued: "I want to have this conversation with you face-to-face, and I'm in Irvine, [Orange County] and you're in San Francisco or New York or wherever you live. And you believe I'm here and I believe you're there and we have this kind of interaction, but if I went like this [swipes hand forward], I can put my hand through you. But aside from that, my brain would say we're really in whatever space we wanted to be in.

"And when we hit that, and we'll hit it soon, when we hit that, it can fundamentally change communication. Billions of people communicate, and want communication devices, so that's where we see it going."

A blog post signed by Iribe, Rift inventor Palmer Luckey, CTO John Carmack and the rest of the "team" that went live shortly after the Facebook announcement echoes what Iribe told us, and the CEO made it clear on a call with Mark Zuckerberg that the Oculus' ambitions extend far beyond immersive gaming.

How will we know if selling Oculus to Facebook was the right move to make? We'll see if we can't set up a VR interview with Iribe in a few years' time.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.