Facebook execs call virtual reality 'ultimate empathy' experience

Sheryl Sandberg
Source: RECODE
Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook's top executives are committed to virtual reality, even if the technology has yet to hit the mainstream.

In an interview at the Code Conference on Wednesday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer each referred to VR headsets as the "ultimate empathy device."

Facebook's Oculus Rfit VR headset went on sale in retail stores last month. At Best Buy, the headset plus all the necessary additional hardware and software costs $1,500 or more, making it only accessible at this point to enthusiasts.

"This takes years of iteration," Schroepfer said on stage Wednesday at the event in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. "We're going to be patient about it. We do think it's transformational."

As for augmented reality, Facebook has been relatively silent. Google Glass flopped as a consumer device, and Schroepfer said there's a lot of work to do to create "something that's lightweight and cosmetically acceptable."

In four years as a public company, Facebook has catapulted up the ranks to become the seventh most valuable franchise in the U.S. Most of its ascent has come from its growth as a mobile platform, where ad dollars are rapidly flowing.

Sandberg said the company has to be prepared for what's next.

"We've done well on the mobile transition but there's another platform coming," she said.

See more coverage of the conference at Recode.

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