Why an Oculus Rift demo convinced Facebook's CEO to buy the VR company

Strapping on the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset convinced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of the technology's potential and led to its purchase.

"I think using it is the biggest thing," Zuckerberg told Wired of the virtual reality headset.

Alongside the demo, Zuckerberg was impressed that Oculus created the Rift with relatively inexpensive parts, which could broaden its mass appeal.

"When you put on the headset and you try it out, you really do feel like you're there within seconds," he said. "Then you realize that the system that's delivering this experience is using commodity hardware with cellphone screens, and can be manufactured for a low number of hundreds of dollars, and this can be in a lot of people's hands. It's something that people talked about for a long time, but I think now the economics and performance are finally there where this could work."

Zuckerberg also acknowledged that the gaming space where the Oculus Rift originated will be its initial stronghold, though he sees applications behind that ecosystem.

"When you think about what it takes to build a mainstream computing platform, communication is probably the most important use case and we bring a lot of experience to that," he said. "Gaming is where VR will initially take off. We've done a lot of work there, and the Oculus team is extremely strong. I felt like if we combined those efforts, we could build something really special."

Facebook announced its intention to acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion in late March. The Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition in late April. For more on VR's recent strides, be sure to read our coverage of virtual reality at GDC 2014. Press play below to see our hands-on impressions of the Oculus Rift.


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