Another kind of extended reality


Our Future Reality Lab has been focusing our efforts on creating extended reality experiences, by inviting people to share an alternate reality that exists nowhere in the physical world. But not all XR experiences are virtual.

This past week I visited several amazing places in Silicon Valley. One of them was Facebook, which makes the Oculus Quest — a wonderful VR headset which is perfect for our XR research.

While I was there, my hosts took me to the rooftop of the vast new Frank Gehry designed Facebook building. The building itself is the size of a small city, and the rooftop consists of a rather large forest with real trees and vegetation and seemingly miles of winding paths (see accompanying photo).

Here we were, clearly still in the physical world, with nary a VR headset in sight. And yet we were indeed immersed in a fantastical shared extended reality, one with a richness and textured beauty that remains far beyond the reach of even the most advanced computer graphics.

Of course this particular variety of extended reality does not come cheap. As we wandered among the rolling hills atop the Facebook building, I turned to my host and remarked that it all reminded me of something my Uncle Lou from the Bronx always says.

“What’s does your Uncle Lou say?” she asked.

“Whether you’re rich or you’re poor,” I replied, “it’s good to have money.”

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