This was Mark Zuckerberg, at last month’s Mobile World Congress (MWC 2016), explaining why Facebook is investing so much in virtual reality technology. Or at least, I’m told these were his words because although I was at the Barcelona Congress, like most attendees, I couldn’t actually afford the 2,000€-plus special pass to see him in person.
Indeed, although 2016 is supposed to be the year that computer-simulated reality finally arrives, the very modus operandi of tech shows like Barcelona’s MWC seems to suggest exactly the opposite. And not just in the main conference hall.
After all, in theory, the over 100,000 Congress attendees could have all stayed home, experienced the demos from the comfort of their sofa and placed their orders online.
South Korea's SK Telecom offered a virtual reality ride under water in a yellow submarine and Samsung’s Gear Theatre put audiences through a virtual rollercoaster-ride with the aid of special VR headsets. But in both cases participants could only get the full sensation of motion and and changing speed by sitting in moving seats.
smooth sales patters did much of the convincing when it came to demonstrating the new devices. This was probably just as well because the mechanical element of many of the VR demos - from bicycle pedals to movable ski platforms - had broken by the third day of the Congress.
In his presentation, Zuckerburg also spoke effusively about the benefits of virtual reality for business communication, “Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere in the world that you want” he told his audience. “All these things are going to be possible.”
Perhaps one day the events like the Mobile World Congress will simply become an online virtual experience but a quick look round me suggested that isn’t happening anytime soon.
What were all these business executives and tech professionals doing? Well, meeting and greeting each other in various trendy roof-top bars, sharing a coffee with each other or rather more irritatingly indulging in some very stationary networking on the moving walkways. Let alone
No doubt virtual reality has amazing potential but it doesn’t just face technical challenges. It will surely take some time before the human brain itself fully embraces this brave new world of simulated physical intimacy.