Social VR – Facebook, Second Life etc

When Facebook purchased Oculus VR for 2 billion dollars I think most people assumed it was for the next evolution of their social network.  Facebook in VR.  But all is quiet on this front.  The potential to finally monetize Facebook was in their lap.  They have the users, the technology and the hardware so why has nothing happened?

Other businesses are now working hard in this area.  Linden Labs, the people behind Second Life have been working on Project Sansar.

Sansar is our new platform for creating social VR experiences. Sansar will democratize VR as a creative medium, making it easy for people to create, share, and monetize their own social VR experiences. Slated for public release in early 2017, Sansar is now available for creators by invitation only. To apply for an invitation to the Creator Preview, visit Sansar.com.

There is also VRChat (Thanks RoadToVR) who a few days ago had a large injection of cash by people like HTC so the competition is hotting up.

Founded in 2014, VRChat offers an immense collection of social VR experiences, allowing users to explore, socialize, and create with other users from around the world. The platform allows users to personalize their own VR experiences, including custom avatars, worlds, game experiences, and hangouts. VRChat offers cross-platform VR support via Steam for Vive and Oculus Home, with additional platform integrations planned throughout 2017.

In my opinion, the potential is huge.  User created worlds are big business.  Just look at MineCraft.  People love to create and show it off.

  • Buy a plot of VR land (or get first one for free)
  • When people enter your VR space they could be taken to the moon, in a jungle, anything you like.  It is your space to create in.
  • All your friends from around the world would be on your VR street.  Walk over, leave them a virtual letter in a virtual postbox.
  • Have VR street parties, massive multiplayer games, talk using the microphone.
  • Create or purchase enhanced addons for your VR land.  e.g. A 20 foot billboard in front of your house that has a slide show of your photo’s
  • Setup a shop outside your house, on your lawn that people can walk into.  The shop could sell your real world products / services.  Much like Facebook business pages.
  • Huge gatherings with all the 3D avatars moving about, your unique avatar visible to all.

If you give the people the platform and tools they will use it to create amazing things.  It could revolutionize the web. No longer are websites flat scrolling pages but fully interactive VR spaces.  Imagine a news website in VR (choose your fav one) and with your hands you can filter huge articles floating around you, moving videos to the side.  360 degree videos.  Imagine watching a news flash while standing inside the 360 footage that is all around you so you feel you are part of it. Your friends appear next to you, watching the same content or to discuss the article.  How about setting an alert on an article that rings a bell in your house if one of your friends starts reading it so you can teleport to them and discuss it.

Or walking into a VR Apple store where you can actually see replica 3D models of the real products and interact with them or have your own personal demonstration of how they work.  Nip over to the Ferrari shop and test drive the latest model then buy the VR version for your VR drive.  Actually talk to real people in the VR spaces that help you around their space.

How about the VR gym that some random user XFitNut96 created.  You walk in, jump on the VR treadmill (and the real one at home).  And start jogging while chatting to your mate in another country who appears on the VR treadmill next to you. As you start to jog the VR gym environment suddenly fades out so you are both jogging along a tropical beach, dolphins keeping pace with you in the water, the sound of sand crunching under your feet as you both run.   The tracking technology matches your avatar stride to your real world stride based on head bob.   This is all doable.

Ohh the possibilities are endless.

Update: Oct 7th 2016:
Oculus Connect conference shows that Oculus/Facebook are kinda working on this. Not the all bells and whistles I was hoping for but who knows, it may have to start here and evolve slowly.