F8 2017: Facebook’s Social VR Spaces Will ‘Ideally’ Support Non-Oculus Platforms Including Vive

by Joe Durbin • April 18th, 2017

In an interview with UploadVR, Michael Booth, who heads up one of Facebook’s social VR teams, explained that the company’s social VR experience, Spaces will not be exclusive to Facebook-owned Oculus VR systems. In fact, Booth says that any VR platform that offers a six-degress-of-freedom headset and six DOF hand controllers would “ideally” receive support for Facebook Spaces down the line.

When asked if this includes Oculus competitors like the HTC Vive, PlayStation VR or even the upcoming headsets from LG, Acer, Lenovo, etc, Booth made it clear that all of those headsets are “fair game,” when it comes to Spaces.”

According to Booth, “Right now we’re launching on Rift and Touch because we think its the best in class for VR hardware. We’re trying to build an experience assuming that this stuff is ubiquitous in five years.  At that time I believe all VR will be six DOF head and hands. I gravitated to that [for Spaces] to start with. When you have that level of interaction you forget that you’re in VR. Plus all your body language comes in.”

Booth did not say when expanded support for Facebook Spaces will be offered for these other headsets, but he did emphasize that the program is launching in a “true beta,” in which things will change rapidly, and profoundly for the new experience.

Booth views Spaces as an “experiment” for social VR, one that will hopefully blaze a trail for many more innovations to come.

By positioning itself as platform agnostic, Spaces has become one more thread in the tangled tapestry that is the relationship between Oculus and the company that purchased it in 2014. One would think a parent company would want to specifically drive sales toward the hardware it spent nearly $3 billion to acquire, and yet this decision does not support that goal. This is especially interesting that Oculus and Facebook have had no problem creating platform exclusive content in the past.

Clearly, for Facebook VR is a much bigger play than selling Rift units. It truly is the next frontier beyond online social interactions.

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  • random access

    He’s lying. They are not going with exclusivity because Rift is “best in class” (it’s not), but because at Facebook they still believe in the exclusivity bs they have believed since the day they bought Oculus.

    • Mike Schmidt

      Gonna love those hand gestures with those Vive wands, because the Vive is best in class or something.

      • random access

        VR is not only about hand gestures. Both Vive and Rift have some strengths but in the end, neither is a clear winner or “best in class”. Vive can also do the same gestures as Rift, Revive proves this. True hand presence is still a couple of generations away anyway.

        • Justos

          Pressing a button is not the same thing as what touch is doing. Its like press X to crouch. LOL

          • random access

            Actually, Touch hand gestures are button presses too. As I wrote, true hand presence in VR is still not here.

            And like I wrote, both Rift and Vive have strengths (most people agree that Vive is more technically advanced in terms of roomscale tracking quality etc). My point was that it is no reason to not release Facebook VR with support for both.

  • jimrp

    they have alot of work to do. i try to send pics to FB by laying it in the center of table. does not send. video calls. i see them they see just black. some objects can not pick up. its cool idea just needs to work.

  • Of course: like facebook app doesn’t run only on apple smartphones; it would have no sense being exclusive if the purpose is being the most used social app in VR

  • Seth Henson

    VR is cool but I find this ‘social vr’ extremely dumb. What’s wrong with Skype or FaceTime? I’d imagine having a hard time convincing my parents or friends to strap on this headset, go thru various confusing steps just to have a digital representation to talk to. Seems overly complicated for a simple thing, and having a helmet strapped on isn’t the most comfortable thing. Whatever

    • Nicholas

      This. I’m a fan of VR, but this must be the most pointless application of it when the alternatives are significantly better and more convenient.