(Pocket-lint) - Facebook, the parent company of Oculus and their virtual reality (VR) headsets, announced a new feature which will now allow users to digitally connect in a boardroom-like space all in VR. Branded as Horizon Workrooms, the feature is free of charge for anyone who owns an Oculus Quest 2, and will allow colleagues and friends to collaborate in a three dimensional space that looks a whole lot like a modern day WeWork office.
The company refers to technology such as this as the "metaverse", and sees a future where everyday folks spends hours of their day fully immersed in digital spaces surrounded by other "real" yet virtual people.
Facebook hopes that they can "redefine the way we work" and "have better conversations that flow more naturally". While that might seem like a long shot at the moment considering the lethargic pace of mass VR adoption within the mainstream, who knows if we might soon start seeing Silicon Valley giants ordering hundreds if not thousands of VR units to send to employees in an effort to promote "in-person" work remotely.
One of the most interesting features of Horizon Workrooms is that the environment isn’t required to be entirely folks in VR. Facebook says that while only 16 users are currently supported to work in VR at the moment, Workrooms supports up to 50 folks in total, provided the remaining 34 join in as a standard video call with a normal, non-VR microphone’d headset. This combination of some folks being represented as live 3D avatars and some as a traditional Zoom call on a virtual screen might prove useful for teams members who want to participate but don’t necessarily own or want to be wearing a VR headset all day.
Other features include Workrooms allowing you to share a live feed of your computers' screen over a call with everyone, support for spatial audio, and even using the Oculus Quest 2 hand and face tracking systems to display a virtual keyboard and trackpad under your 3D avatar.
Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s lead VR executive, saying he thinks it "might be the most intense VR application that exists". In the initial announcement, Facebook claims that they've been "using Workrooms to collaborate here … and we think it’s one of the best ways to work if you can’t be physically together".
Currently, Horizon Workrooms is in an open beta and free to all Oculus Quest 2 owners all across the globe.
To read our review of the Oculus Quest 2, click here.
Writing by Alex Allegro. Originally published on 19 August 2021.