The Facebook metaverse is here for work from home
THE days of staring at a screen with nothing on a Zoom call are numbered as Facebook adds another layer to the way we communicate.
This week, Facebook launched Horizon Workrooms – its first major step towards the metaverse envisioned by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a global alternate reality that mixes the real world with digital imaginations and enhancements.
It’s Zoom personified or even flipped to make cartoons of human beings. The basic concept is that instead of video conferencing with a webcam, participants use virtual reality equipment – like Facebook’s own Oculus Quest 2 – to meet in a VR workspace.
Those who have tested the preview version of the app report that the actual experience is considerably more impressive. Spatial audio processing makes your coworkers’ voices closer or further away depending on how far you are “sitting” from each other in virtual space.
There’s also the usual added immersion factor of VR, which is hard to express to anyone who hasn’t experienced it firsthand. In addition to providing the basics for meeting in a virtual “room” and discussing, Workrooms supports the usual teleconferencing features: whiteboards, screen
sharing, chat, etc. Meeting participants can draw freehands on their desks or the whiteboard, pin images from their computers to the whiteboard and annotate them, with the ability to export an image of the whiteboard itself to the computer for later use or sharing.
Horizon Workrooms supports head tracking – if you turn your head to look at a coworker or a whiteboard, your vision moves with you. But Workrooms also supports controller-less gesture tracking, allowing a coworker to give another a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, among other gestures.
According to Facebook, the company will refrain from the less user-friendly type of tracking it normally does on its users elsewhere.
“Workrooms won’t use your conversations and work documents to inform ads on Facebook,” the company says, and it also works to limit the amount of data that leaves your office or home office first. place.
Another feature offered by Workrooms is a layered mixed reality that integrates “pass through” video from the Quest 2 sensors; participants can choose to look “through” the VR headset to see a grainy grayscale image of what is happening in the real world with them. (This should especially be a blessing for users with limited typing skills.)
Facebook promises that neither it nor third-party apps will be allowed to access, display or use images and videos from your real-life environment to target advertisements. For those who don’t have their VR gear handy – or don’t want to use it – you can call into work rooms with a standard webcam and microphone and appear on a virtual TV screen in the room. workspace. Work rooms support up to 50 people on a call, 16 of which can be in full VR.
It sounds like a step in the right direction to create a virtual world in the workspace. Facebook will have to redouble its efforts so that companies can trust Facebook with their secrets that will be shared on the virtual workspace. Facebook’s story tells us that the company has in the past spied on competitors before buying them out in an attempt to dominate the market.
Badly managed, Horizon Workrooms would make it easier for Facebook to access information about competitors. Besides surveillance issues, Facebook needs to be recognized as a leader in this space that looks to be the next big technological innovation. To resolve the trust issue, Facebook may need to consider releasing it to the open source community for adoption as a standard for the virtual world.