Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are real hot potatoes at the moment, and understandably so. They undoubtedly have the potential to revolutionize the way that we interact with each other, and with machines, in the digital world.

Facebook’s $2bn purchase of Oculus, one of the leading developers of consumer VR headsets shows the confidence and high expectations opinion leaders have of this emerging technology.

Up to now, other than the strong vote of confidence a £2bn investment reveals, Facebook itself has been fairly quiet about what it plans to do with the technology.

But through the opinions of others in the field, including some who are known to have been working in partnership with the world’s largest social network, hints are beginning to emerge.

Oculus, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Facebook, has already put its name on one consumer VR product – Samsung’s Gear VR. As with Google’s Cardboard headsets, rather than requiring an expensive PC, it’s basically a holder for a smartphone, which generates the actual VR experiences. Already Facebook allows users to share 3D video content designed for the Gear VR on its Oculus store.

This cheap and cheerful pioneering of VR tech has drastically lowered the barriers to entry into virtual worlds, and spawned an industry of developers keen to show what can already be done. One of these is Starship, developers of the VTime app which already lets users meet up with friends in virtual reality. Once inside one of VTime’s worlds, there’s really only one thing to do – socialize.

At the Wearable Technology Show in London this week, Starship’s CMO Julian Price talked about how VR had the potential to turn social networks into sociable networks. The key, he said, will be the transition from phone, tablet or computer-based interactions, which are largely asynchronous, into real-time, VR interactions, where participants are perfectly in synch.

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