Facebook launches VR remote app, calling it a step towards the “meta universe”

August 19 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) on Thursday launched testing of a new application for remote work in virtual reality, where users of Oculus Quest 2 headsets can hold meetings as an avatar.

Facebook’s beta testing of the Horizon Workrooms app is happening as many companies continue to work from home after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down physical jobs and the new version spans the globe.

Facebook sees its latest launch as an early step toward building a futuristic “metaverse,” which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been promoting in recent weeks.

The world’s largest social network has invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality, developing equipment such as Oculus VR headsets, working on AR glasses and bracelets, and buying many VR gaming studios, including BigBox VR.

Gaining dominance in this space, on which Facebook is betting, which will be the next large computing platform, will allow it in the future to be less dependent on other hardware manufacturers, such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O), the company said.

Reality Labs Facebook vice president Andrew Bose Bosworth said the new Workrooms app gives a “good feel” to how the company sees elements of the metaverse.

“It’s kind of one of the fundamental steps in that direction,” Bosworth told reporters at a VR news conference.

A Facebook test of its new Horizon Workrooms app for the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets is shown in this handout image obtained by Reuters on August 18, 2021. Facebook / Handout via REUTERS

The term “metauniverse,” coined in the 1992 anti-utopian novel Snow Crash, is used to describe immersive, shared spaces available on different platforms where the physical and the digital converge. Zuckerberg described it as the “embodied Internet.”

This was mentioned in several recent calls about the profits of technical CEOs, including Zuckerberg, Satya Nadella (MSFT.O) of Microsoft, David Bazooka (RBLX.N) of the gaming company Roblox Corp and Shar Dubey (MTCH.O) Match Group Inc. talked about how their companies can shape aspects of this futuristic field. read more

In July, Facebook announced that it was creating a product group to work on the metaverse, which would be part of its AR and VR group, Facebook Reality Labs.

In its first full VR news briefing, the company demonstrated how Workrooms users can create their own versions of avatars to meet in virtual reality conference rooms and collaborate on shared whiteboards or documents while still interacting with their own physical desk and computer keyboard. The app, which is free through Quest 2 headsets, which cost about $ 300, allows you to use up to 16 people together in virtual reality and up to 50 together, including video conferencing participants. Bosworth said Facebook now regularly uses Workrooms for internal meetings.

The company said it would not use people’s work conversations and materials in Workrooms to target Facebook advertising. It also says that users must adhere to the standards of the virtual reality community, and that violating behavior can be reported to Oculus.

Facebook recently stopped selling its Oculus Quest 2 headsets and recalled foam eyeliners due to reports of skin irritation in collaboration with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. (https://bit.ly/3iTABYC)

The recall said it affected about 4 million units in the United States, estimating sales of Quest 2 headsets that have not yet been officially announced by the company. In the second quarter of 2021, Facebook reported $ 497 million in non-advertising revenue from AR and VR, as well as e-commerce.

Report by Elizabeth Calliford in London. Edited by Kenneth Lee and Matthew Lewis

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