As Facebook Plans for the Future, VR Looms Large

When Google wanted people to know it was serious about virtual reality two years ago, it sent software developers attending its I/O conference home with Google Cardboard -- a cheap, build-it-yourself VR headset that developers could use with Samsung Galaxy smartphones. If they owned one.

When Facebook wanted people to know it was serious about VR, it sent software developers attending its F8 conference -- all 2,600 of them -- home with Gear VR headsets, which retail at $99.99, and Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones, which cost $598 apiece.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's announcement of the high-end swag was met with emphatic applause from the audience of developers, who packed an auditorium in San Francisco's Fort Mason Center to hear him detail the company's 10-year plan.

The Gear VR [pictured above] may not rival the coveted, high-end virtual reality headset released last month by Oculus VR, which Facebook acquired in 2014 for $2 billion. But it was enough to drive the message home: VR will play a big role in Facebook's future -- and so will developers who embrace the medium.

"I think virtual reality has the ability to be the most social platform, because you feel like you're right there with that person," Zuckerberg said.

Telling the audience that he expects virtual reality and augmented reality headsets to eventually shrink to the size and shape of a pair of reading glasses, he predicted that objects such as televisions and phones will one day be a thing of the past.

"When we get to this world, a lot of things we think about as physical objects will just be $1 apps in an AR app store," he said.

Imagine, he said, instead of pulling out a phone to show someone a photo on a small screen, you could use augmented reality to pull an image out of...

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