Facebook launches Horizon Workrooms, a new Virtual reality for work app.

Facebook has launched a VR meeting tool that looks to reimagine video conferencing and other remote collaborations known as Horizon Workrooms. Horizon Workrooms aims to mimic the in person meetings where members will be able to attend virtual meetings with legless avatars floating over a chair.

The application will leverage on Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 fancy features allowing up to 16 Oculus users to meet in a virtual conference room. Video participants will be able to phone into meeting allowing up to a total of 50 people per work room.

The app can project a user’s real life computer into this world, viewed through Facebooks Oculus virtual reality headsets. This will allow workers to sit with colleagues in an imaginary office, chat, take notes, stream what’s on their laptops and collaborate using virtual white boards-all while sitting at their real life workspace. The app allows Quest users to use their hands instead of remote controllers. Users can also choose from multiple room setups so that they face their counterparts or a white board to listen to a presentation.

The application also supports head tracking that is if you turn your head to look at a colleague or a whiteboard, your vision pans along with you. In addition, one colleague can also give another a thumbs up or thumbs down, among other gestures.

“We shouldn’t really have to be physically together to feel present collaborate or brainstorm,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

This release comes as many companies continue to work remotely as the corona virus pandemic forced many people to work from home. This launch is just one small part of Facebook CEO’s ambition to build an immersive, avatar inhabited digital space known as METAVERSE where people can socialize but also work. It also comes after Zuckerberg recently announced a major move into virtual reality, joining silicon valley rivals Apple and Google in a push to build the next computing platform beyond the smart phone.

Despite technology’s push into Virtual reality, the industry still faces a number of challenges. For example, headsets for an entire company would be considered a major expense and the latest headset are still somewhat heavy. Some users during the launch reported headaches and nausea while using the device. Facebook is fully aware of the challenges facing VR with Andrew Bosworth, head of Facebook Reality Labs, noting that he personally has to take breaks after about an hour because he gets too hot inside the headset.

Facebook has been developing Horizon for the past two years and its working on augmented reality glasses. Its also researching on how to make peoples eyes appear on virtual environments and trying to create a wrist band to allow people to control their devices with just a gesture. Eric Yuan, CEO of the ZOOM APPLICATION, said he believes augmented and virtual reality will play a big role in the future of work, especially remote work.

Facebook added it would not access the image of a user’s physical environment, which are processed locally on the headset and discarded after display. The audio contents of meetings will be processed on Facebook’s servers, however, the company will not store that data

How to use Workrooms today.

If you have an Oculus Quest 2, head over to the open beta workrooms.com and set up a Workrooms team with friends and/or colleagues.

Create a Workrooms account- separate from your Facebook or Oculus account and agree to the terms of use.

For those who don’t have their VR gear or don’t want to use it, they can call into the workrooms with a standard webcam and microphone and show up on a virtual television screen within the workspace

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Tasha Musyoki
Tasha Musyoki
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