Oculus Rift inventor weighs in on VR's impact on real-life interactions


VR takes us to faraway places without ever having to go anywhere, but what does that mean for person-to-person interaction? Is it a good thing to lose physical connection with people, even when it’s inconvenient?

According to Palmer Luckey, the wunderkind who invented Oculus Rift while still in his teens, there’s nothing wrong with virtual, not actual, reality becoming the conduit through which humans connect.

“I grew up using the internet and social media and I think VR is going to be in the same position,” he says in an interview with The Telegraph. “But if it cuts down on real-life interactions, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

If that gives you pause, Luckey has a reasonable explanation. Like Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, which bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, Luckey sees VR’s applications extending beyond gaming, bringing people in many settings together without having to be in the same place.

“If they say it’s anti-social I absolutely disagree,” Luckey says. “If I want to talk to our office in Japan, or China or London, I can fly there and burn hundreds of dollars of jet fuel, or I can do it in virtual reality.”

Palmer Luckey
Palmer Luckey

Real connections

Delivering ease, not burden, to human interaction is a VR feature Luckey has touched on before.

He told us earlier this year: “You’ll see people using [VR] for business, basically replacing business travel, being able to put people from all over the world in the same room without burning jet fuel, without sticking them in different time zones. That’s going to be a big deal.”

So for anyone worried VR will suck us into a digital vortex that cuts us off from the real world – just as our smartphone screens have arguably done – Luckey seems to believe strongly that virtual reality will actually bring us closer together.

Whether that happens remains to be seen, especially since VR is still new to consumers and considered a niche gaming product by many. That may change quickly though as more VR headsets come to store shelves.

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