What is going on at Facebook

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Facebook is continuing to make changes to its AR and VR operations with a broader use for the Facebook Reality Labs brand, following the controversial news about Oculus accounts last week

Quick read

➨ The company wants to expand the Facebook Reality Labs brand beyond research “to be inclusive of all the teams that are building, iterating, and shipping today’s hardware and software on the road to the next computing platform”
➨ Facebook received a negative reaction to the news last week that it was ending support for Oculus accounts in 2023
➨ You’ll have the opportunity to find out more on 16 September during the also-newly rebranded Facebook Connect, when the social media company will hold its seventh annual AR/VR conference

The story

Facebook’s AR/VR team will now be known as Facebook Reality Labs, in yet another integration of the company’s social media and immersive technology brands.

Facebook Reality Labs was the name given to Oculus Research following the acquisition of the VR company in 2014. The research division, led by chief scientist Michael Abrash and his teams in the US, UK, Switzerland and Ireland, was responsible for the near-eye displays previewed in June.

But the company wants to expand the brand beyond research “to be inclusive of all the teams that are building, iterating, and shipping today’s hardware and software on the road to the next computing platform”, according to Andrew Bosworth, its new leader.

This work includes “many of the technologies needed to deliver on the promise of AR glasses”, as immersive technology changes “how we work, interact, and play, with novel use cases we haven’t even begun to imagine”.

Interestingly, the company stressed that the newly branded division is “committed to innovating responsibly as we build the next computing platform”, particularly as novel technologies will bring “unique privacy considerations”.

Facebook Reality Labs is building the entire stack, including hardware and software, “so privacy is baked into our design process from the beginning”, Bosworth said. “We’ll continue to evolve our approach to privacy as the technology develops.”

The company received a negative reaction to the news last week that it was ending support for Oculus accounts in 2023.

From October of this year, everyone using an Oculus device for the first time will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to use social VR features. Existing users can merge their accounts, or create a new one from scratch. Oculus for Business uses a separate login process that will be unaffected.

This news sparked privacy concerns, although the company stressed in its announcement that “using a VR profile that is backed by a Facebook account and authentic identity helps us protect our community and makes it possible to offer additional integrity tools”.

There are also concerns that the company will use personal information to deliver personalised ads. As Facebook highlighted in its announcement, it certainly plans to.

These latest developments follow the news that Facebook is discontinuing Oculus Go and putting all of its chips on Quest.

What does all of this mean? It looks like Facebook is slowly but surely integrating Oculus into its main business and brand, so that it can position itself as a cross-modality platform for working, gaming and socialising.

You’ll have the opportunity to find out more on 16 September during the also-newly rebranded Facebook Connect, when the company will hold its seventh annual AR/VR conference.

Having “grown to include so much more than Oculus”, Facebook Connect will be the place to hear about research updates and product news, from Spark AR to Portal from Facebook.

VRWorldTech will be tuning in to find out what’s in store for Facebook and Oculus, which will hopefully include an official look at the next Quest.

As for the closer integration of the two businesses, let VRWorldTech know what you think via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or editor@vrworldtech.com.

Main image: Oculus Quest

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