Facebook has tested a virtual-reality remote work app which allows users of the company’s Oculus Quest 2 headsets to conduct meetings as avatar versions of themselves. The beta test of Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms app comes as companies continue to work from home.
The social media giant sees its latest launch as an early step toward building the futuristic “metaverse” that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has touted in recent weeks.
The world’s largest social network has invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality. Facebook bets this space will be the next big computing platform.
Facebook’s vice president of its Reality Labs group, Andrew Bosworth, said the new Workrooms app gives “a good sense” of how the company envisions elements of the “metaverse.”
The term “metaverse” is used to describe immersive, shared spaces accessed across different platforms where the physical and digital converge. Zuckerberg has described it as an “embodied internet.”
In July, Facebook said it was creating a product team 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 showed how Workrooms users can design avatar versions of themselves to meet in virtual reality conference rooms and collaborate on shared whiteboards or documents, still interacting with their own physical desk and computer keyboard. The app, free through the Quest 2 headsets, which cost about $300, allows up to 16 people together in VR and up to 50 total including video conference participants. Bosworth said Facebook is using Workrooms regularly for internal meetings.
In the meantime, Reuters reports that Facebook recently halted sales of its Oculus Quest 2 headsets and recalled the foam face-liners due to reports of skin irritation in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The recall notice said it affected about 4 million units in the United States.