At its annual developer conference in San Jose today, Facebook unveiled some of its latest tech projects, assuring investors that it’s catching up to competitors like Snapchat. Mark Zuckerberg himself took the stage to make painful jokes about Fast and Furious and opine on how Facebook wants to dominate what he sees as the next major platform: Augmented reality. Being able to have animated sharks swimming around your cereal bowl is apparently the future of tech — according to Zuck, at least.
The company also introduced Facebook Spaces, which is essentially just Second Life integrated with Facebook and powered by virtual reality headsets. If I spent a week imagining a future designed to simulate damnation, it still wouldn’t be as painful as watching Facebook’s awkward announcement video.
— Oculus (@oculus) April 18, 2017
Sure, the technology is cool, I guess, but who actually wants something like this? Would anyone besides people who describe themselves as “virtual reality enthusiasts” really want to strap on a bulky, expensive headset so they can have interactions that are both more awkward and less personal than real life?
Facebook’s pitch is essentially, “Why take a picture with your friends when you can do the same thing but in virtual reality with the International Space Station in the background?” It appears Facebook Spaces will also include games, which is probably a far more appealing feature. It’s just a toy! This might be fun to try out a few times, but Facebook is selling it as some kind of socialisation supplement to replace actual human interaction.
Even on a big stage at a flashy developer conference, this stuff comes across as absurd, but in practice it seems like a very lonely and, honestly, pathetic experience.