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The Oculus Home update of Facebook gives you a virtual reality room of your own

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Facebook's virtual reality company is renewing the way it uses its software starting on Wednesday.

James Martin / CNET

Each great hero has a secret lair.

Batman has his Batcave, full of high-tech equipment, cars, even a giant animatronic T-Rex. Charles Xavier has the School for Gifted Youth, with its secret underground bunker for storing aircraft and bad guys. And Superman has his hiding place, the Fortress of Solitude.

Now Oculus wants to make sure he has a place he can call his own.

On Wednesday, the VR affiliate of Facebook will begin to offer a preliminary version of Oculus Home, a virtual room that you can equip more or less as you want. Think of it as a computer-generated Pottery Barn catalog, mixed with flourishes like an old videogame console, art, rubber ducks and a bow with arrows that can shoot the stars.

Do not you see what you want? No problem. Eventually you can create any article that you like.

And everything can be interactive, like a private miniature golf course where you can play a round of nine holes. Just be careful with the giant robot spider.

All you need is an $ 399 Oculus Rift headset, touch controllers included and a computer powerful enough to handle it all. The Oculus Home software is free and will be launched early next year as part of a larger free software package called Rift Core 2.0.

"What, this old man, it's just my second home, virtual reality."


"We put a lot of time and energy into making this feel great," said Brandon Dillon, product manager of the project.

Along with Oculus Home, Rift Core 2.0 will include a renewed application store that is easier to navigate than the existing one and a pop-up menu called Dash that makes it easier to change programs or respond to friends while in the middle of a game. Dash is designed to be used in almost any virtual reality application.

The RV, which is based on audio-visual headphones that hang over your eyes, can trigger psychological and neurological responses that make you feel immersed in a digital universe. Oculus believes that the ability to customize virtual reality to suit your tastes will make you feel even more at home.

"We offer you a space that belongs to you," said Nate Mitchell, Oculus co-founder and product manager.

VR complies with the movies

If you talk about VR with someone in the technology industry enough, a book will inevitably appear in the conversation. It's called "Ready Player One."

The epic science fiction novel by Ernest Cline, set in a futuristic United States, follows the adventures of a young man named Wade Watts while searching for a treasure, fighting an evil corporation and pursuing a crush. But instead of taking place in space or in a fantastic world, Watts is sitting in a room in the USA. UU., Wearing a VR headset.

This 2011 book, abundantly peppered with internal references to pop culture and games of the past three decades, became a great inspiration to the virtual reality enthusiasts that Oculus has been distributing to new employees for years. The book was even one of the favors given to fans at its first developer conference in 2014. (For his part, Dillon says he is more of a fan of the epic VR movie "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson)

Probably do not be surprised then that one of the subplots of "Ready Player One", that Steven Spielberg will release as a movie at the beginning of next year, is the virtual house that Watts and other characters created for them.

One, for example, created the ideal den geek, complete with old video games and geek culture trinkets through the decades. Another built a virtual reproduction of his childhood city.

Watts built his house on an asteroid. There is even a nightclub in virtual reality.

Mitchell smiled when I mentioned these things. Oculus was so enthusiastic about these ideas that it even included retro-style video game consoles as objects that you can place in your virtual home, such as the "Ready Player One" characters.

Connect these retro style cartridges to the virtual reality game console, press the power button and you can play a real game.


The big question is whether experiences like Oculus Home will convince people to use VR more, particularly because sales of VR headsets have been lukewarm.

Oculus gives "the ability to disguise it, but they have not changed." the reason why I would go there, "said Patrick Joynt, vice president of research at consultancy Frank N. Magid Associates." It sounds like a piece of fun software that will not justify prolonged use. "

Mitchell has more hope. features like being able to visit rooms with more and more common friends like virtual reality experiences Meanwhile, being able to work on documents and surf the web while in your virtual reality house can help you feel more than a simple trick.

"We are turning virtual reality into a computing platform," Mitchell said. "We want you to be able to do more with the device."

So I'm ready for the adventures of Ian-Man, a superhero technology journalist whose lair will be for I just have to build it first.

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