Facebook is stepping into the world of virtual reality, buying pioneering company Oculus VR for about $US2 billion ($A2.19 billion) in cash and shares.
Oculus is responsible for the Oculus Rift head-mounted virtual reality headset, which has received a lot of attention from video game developers despite not yet being released.
Facebook said it would look to extend the use of the technology to communications, media, entertainment and education.
The social media giant has sought to connect the world via mobile apps, but said the time had come to begin focusing on new platforms.
“Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all of the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home,” said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post.
“This is really a new communication platform,” he said – one that “will become a part of daily life for billions of people”.
The Oculus technology places a high-definition, 1080p screen in a head-mounted display. The screen changes as the user looks around.
Zuckerberg said Facebook would help accelerate the development of the technology in the gaming space, saying Oculus will continue to operate independently within Facebook.
The deal includes $US400 million in cash and 23.1 million Facebook shares at a present price of $US69.35 each.