Oculus Connect, the annual event dedicated to VR headsets, has a new name: Facebook Connect.
The branding change arrives as Oculus merges with Facebook’s other hardware and research departments into one division called Facebook Reality Labs. The first Facebook Connect is slated to be held next month virtually on Sept. 16.
The name change reflects the event’s broader scope: to not just create virtual reality products, but to build the next major computing platform, said Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook Reality Labs.
The company also wants to remind everyone that Oculus is part of Facebook. “Much like Facebook’s recent corporate rebranding, our emphasis is on clarity—visually identifying us as a part of Facebook while looking toward the future of the next computing platform that puts people at the center,” Bosworth wrote in a blog post.
The change also signifies Facebook’s effort to fully integrate Oculus, which it bought back in 2014, into the social network’s overarching plans. “If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I believe that augmented and virtual reality will be the next major computing platforms and that they’ll allow us all to feel closer and more present with each other, even when we can’t physically be together,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post today.
Facebook Reality Labs is set to encompass Oculus, the social network’s work on augmented reality, smart home devices such as Portal, and long-term research initiatives, which have included creating computers that can be controlled with your thoughts.
The consolidation “better reflects” what Facebook is ultimately trying to build: “Giving people the power to feel connected anytime, anywhere,” Zuckerberg added.
Still, the unification may disappoint consumers hoping Oculus could remain independent from the rest of Facebook. Last week, the social network announced another wall between Oculus and Facebook was coming down: Starting in October, new Oculus VR owners will no longer have the option to sign in with an Oculus VR account; instead they’ll have to log in with a Facebook account.
The new requirement will expand to all users in January 2023, forcing them to ditch the old Oculus VR accounts or risk losing access to certain games and features. As a result, some VR users have vowed to drop Oculus headsets for competing products, citing Facebook’s poor record on privacy.