Goodbye, Oculus Connect — hello, Facebook Connect. Following last week’s controversial announcement that Facebook accounts will be required to use all future Oculus virtual reality devices, the social media giant today rebranded its annual VR confab to eliminate the Oculus name and announced a date for the now entirely online event: September 16.
Free for all attendees, Facebook Connect will focus on the combined work of Facebook’s AR and VR teams, which going forward will all be under the Facebook Reality Labs aegis. That means Oculus, Spark AR, Portal, and other AR/VR initiatives will operate under that name, while the former Facebook Reality Labs/Oculus Research group led by Michael Abrash will be known as FRL Research.
Facebook says “Oculus and our other product brand names aren’t going anywhere,” though it’s hard not to see the move in the context of the two-year sunsetting plan for Oculus accounts, the deeper integration of Facebook features into Oculus products, and the company’s recent corporate rebranding and streamlining efforts. Like it or not, Facebook’s name and corporate influence are going to keep growing within the VR and AR spaces, and as its researchers continue building technologies that will “deliver on the promise of AR glasses,” Facebook is going to make sure it gets credit for its good deeds — perhaps to balance the ongoing criticisms leveled at its social network.
Now in its seventh year, the renamed Facebook Connect event promises to include a combination of “keynotes from Facebook leaders and industry visionaries,” as well as immersive developer sessions covering the latest innovations in AR and VR. A streamlined version of the mid-range Oculus Quest headset has been rumored to be in the pipeline for release this year, and the company always shows off its latest high-end development efforts, which should make this year’s Connect well worth tuning into in mid-September.