Facebook’s New VR App Could Get Rid Of Offices For Good (But There’s More To It)

Facebook’s New VR App Could Get Rid Of Offices For Good (But There’s More To It)

As the world has been forced to embrace remote work over the past 18 months, many have enjoyed the freedoms and flexibilities that working from home allows.

However, the major downside has been the impact on spontaneous collaboration around the office and other intangible benefits that come from face-to-face interactions.

Even Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai is on record advocating the importance of in-person collaboration for businesses.

But a new innovation from Facebook could help bridge the gap between WFH and life in the office.

Facebook’s lesser-known subsidiary Oculus – a virtual reality company it picked up back in 2014 – has released ‘Horizon Workrooms’, a virtual meeting space that will be available on the Oculus Quest 2 device.

The new app is built on the premise that “sometimes you just have to get in the same room” – Facebook believes that this room does not have to be physical.

“Workrooms is a virtual meeting space where you and your colleagues can work better together from anywhere,” Facebook said.

“You can join a meeting in VR as an avatar or dial into the virtual room from your computer by video call.

“You can use a huge virtual whiteboard to sketch out ideas together, bring your computer and keyboard into VR to work together with others, or just have expressive conversations that feel more like you’re together in person.”

Facebook/Oculus is aiming to make the Horizon Workrooms experience as lifelike as possible, offering users the ability to use their own desk, computer and keyboard, as well as spatial audio and virtual whiteboards.

There’s also a focus on allowing users to use their hands, as opposed to controllers.

“Workrooms is one of our first experiences that was designed from the start to use your hands, and not controllers, as your primary input,” Facebook said.

“This helps to create a more natural and expressive social experience and lets you switch more easily between physical tools like your keyboard and controllers when needed.”

Expect more of this

And while the launch of an all-encompassing virtual workplace might seem unusual for a company that has been built on the back of social media and digital advertising, it actually makes a lot of sense for Facebook.

Not only will it complement Workplace by Facebook – the company’s business collaboration tool – but it also will serve as an important stepping stone in Mark Zuckerberg’s vision to create a ‘metaverse’.

Last month, Zuckerberg outlined Facebook’s ambition to use VR and AR technologies to build the metaverse, something he described as “an embodied Internet that you are inside of”.

The development of Horizon Workrooms does not constitute the successful creation of the metaverse (Facebook wants its metaverse to serve as a ‘connective tissue’ between physical spaces and the virtual world), but it does show the company is deadly serious about its plans.

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