Let's face it folks, the practice of taking selfies is here to stay. So are selfie sticks, for that matter. Rather than fight it, Facebook and its Oculus division are embracing it, taking a real-world trend and injecting into the virtual world. It sounds a little silly on the surface, but it's a logical extension that could lead to some interesting use case scenarios.
Out in San Francisco at Facebook's F8 developer conference, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer covered his face with a Rift headset. So did an engineer named Michael Booth, who was back at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park. The two VR buddies then went on a virtual trip together to London, and much to the crowd's delight, they took a selfie using a virtual selfie stick.
The app that makes this sort of thing possible plops two people in a room. A series of spheres sits on a table, each one a 360-degree photo of a foreign destination. You can pick up any of the spheres and jump into the center of the photo by smashing it against your face, which transports you to that specific location where you can look around.
That's half the fun, though what's really unique is taking selfies. You and your buddy are both represented by a customized avatar, one that's been rendered based on your actual facial features rather than a generic (and random) character creation. It does this through a face capture technology that's still being tweaked.
As the demo is currently constructed, the result is a little goofy—instead of a full body representation, your two-man selfie consists of two colorful heads floating in mid air. You can doodle on each other, like drawing in a bow tie or whatever else you feel like scribbling, like a mustache perhaps.
This is one possible avenue on the social side of VR. It's rough at the moment, but viewed as a proof-of-concept, you can see the potential for some interesting things. Imagine taking a virtual trip to Italy with your mother who lives halfway across the country, and then posting polished selfies of your VR vacation to Facebook. Or interviewing for a job in a remote location, transporting yourself to the employer's headquarters without the costly plane fare.
Really though it's up to developers to figure out how best to leverage this sort of thing, and it will be interesting to see what other ideas they come up with.