May 17, 2022

Meta: Adds Social hangouts to Quest VR Home Space 

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Meta Quest virtual reality headsets will soon proffer a choice for hanging out with other people on your home screen. The v41 Quest update will add a multiuser Horizon Home space.

Meta announced the previous year at Connect. Horizon Home allows people to put on their headsets and request other Quest users to jump into social experiences, including observing VR videos as a group. It’s an action toward a larger Horizon-branded “metaverse” that Meta has been rolling out piecemeal over the past few years.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Home’s rollout in a video with Free Solo climber Alex Honnold, offering a brief system demo. Zuckerberg and Honnold emerge as Horizon’s traditional legless avatars and pop into a 360-degree video of Honnold free ascending the Dolomites, then trade to a space landscape for more chatting. In the Facebook post, Zuckerberg says more chances for customizing your Home space are “currently in development.” 

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Horizon Home joins Meta’s Horizon Workrooms VR meeting software and its Horizon Worlds creative and social platform. It’s similar to Facebook Spaces, a 2017 app where you could play minigames with friends and take virtual selfies. Unfortunately, spaces shut down in 2019 to make way for Horizon, and it never emerged to reach the rage of independent VR hangout apps like VRChat, BigScreen, and Rec Room. And until now, the Quest home screen has been a solitary experience where players could move around and pull up apps.

Meta Quest
Meta Quest

In theory, Home has the advantage of being directly integrated into the core Quest experience. Meta has also ramped up its virtual and augmented reality efforts as it has attempted to transition past its traditional social networking business. The hardware part of that strategy is still in flux, with Meta canceling plans for an upcoming smartwatch and an early consumer-focused AR headset focusing on longer-term AR glasses. But VR software is a much nearer-term bet, and here, Meta is filling a noticeable ecosystem gap for easy, small-scale virtual meetups.

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Horizon Workrooms: Remote Association Reimagined

The manner we work is changing. More people are functioning remotely, more people like to be flexible work options, and more people are re-thinking what it indicates to be in an office. But remote work still has plenty of challenges without suitable connective devices.

For example, working without colleagues can feel isolating at times, and brainstorming with other people doesn’t feel exact if you’re not in the same room. So today, we’re enthusiastic about launching the open beta of Horizon Workrooms, available for free to download on Oculus Quest 2 in nations where Quest 2 is supported.

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Workrooms are the flagship collaboration experience that allows people to come together to work in the same virtual room, regardless of physical distance. It functions across both virtual reality and the web and is conceived to improve your team’s ability to communicate, collaborate, and connect remotely through the power of VR. Whether that’s bringing together to brainstorm or whiteboard an idea, performing on a document, hearing updates from your team, hanging out and socializing, or having better conversations that flow more naturally.

Meta Quest
Meta Quest

Workrooms bring some of our best new technologies together for the first time into one experience on Quest 2. Using features like a mixed-reality desk and keyboard tracking, remote desktop streaming, hand tracking, spatial audio, video conferencing integration, and the new Oculus Avatars, they’ve created a different kind of productivity experience.

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Workrooms are virtual meeting areas where you and your colleagues can perform better together from anywhere. For example, you can enter a meeting in VR as an avatar or dial into the virtual room from the computer by video call. In addition, you can employ a substantial virtual whiteboard to sketch ideas together, get your laptop and keyboard into VR to operate together with others or have expressive conversations that feel more like you’re together in person.

meta-quest-horizon-work-space-1

Horizon Workrooms: Features

  • Fetch your computer, desk, and keyboard into VR with you: Working from VR doesn’t suggest you have to leave your everyday tools behind. Workrooms are a hybrid reality experience, letting you get your physical desk and compatible tracked keyboard into the virtual room with you, where you can notice them sitting on the virtual meeting table in front of you. With the new Oculus Remote Desktop companion app for Mac and Windows, you’ll have fast one-click access to your entire computer from VR. You can take notes during your meetings, bring your files into VR, and even share your screen with colleagues. See here for details on compatible devices.
  • Feel like you’re together with avatars and spatial audio: Feel more connected and have more natural conversations using our new and improved Oculus Avatars and spatial audio technology. Our new avatars, launched earlier this year, offer various customization options and feel more expressive and natural, helping you feel like you’re there with your colleagues. The conversation rings more lifelike, too—with our high quality, low latency spatial audio, you’ll listen to the people around you based on where they’re seated, just like they’d sound in an actual room, making conversations flow smoothly.
  • A virtual whiteboard as big as your ideas: Every room in Workrooms delivers infinite whiteboard space so you can sketch things together in real-time. For the first time, you can operate your controller in a new way by flipping it around and writing with it like a pen, either on the physical desk in front of you or standing with others on the whiteboard. You can pin photos from your computer on the whiteboard, mark them up, and review them with colleagues. Your whiteboards stick around in Workrooms for as long as you need them, so you can come back any time and continue working from the same room. And once you’re done, you can export any whiteboard out of VR to share as an image on your computer.
  • A room to suit every task: You can configure the virtual room’s layout to match your necessities. Whether you’re focused on collaboration, conversation, or presentation, there’s a seating layout for every event, and the whole room scales up and down to fit the size of your group.
  • Join in VR or video call: Not everyone will always have a VR headset handy so you can dial into a room from your computer by video call. You can invite guests to dial in, too, just by sharing a meeting link. Video participants will emerge on a video screen in the virtual room, just like an actual conference room. We support up to 16 people in VR together and up to 50 people total on a call, including video participants.
  • Designed to use your hands: Workrooms is one of our first experiences designed from the start to use your hands, not controllers, as your primary input. It helps to create a more natural and expressive social experience and lets you switch more easily between physical tools like your keyboard and controllers when needed. (To ensure the best experience, you’ll need to enable hand tracking to use Workrooms.)
  • Meeting notes, file sharing, calendar integration, and chat: The Workrooms web app, offered in countries where Facebook is available, makes it easier to collaborate, whether in VR or at your computer. Every room in Workrooms has a place on the web to capture notes and action items while you’re in a meeting, share links and files, and chat with your team. You can also sync your Outlook or Google Calendar to make scheduling appointments and sending invites more accessible.
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Using Workrooms requires a Workrooms account, separate from your Oculus or Facebook accounts. However, your Oculus username may be visible to other users in some cases — for example, if someone reports you for violating our policies and your username appears in the tool. And to experience Workrooms in VR, you’ll need to access the app on Quest 2, which requires a Facebook login. Your use of Workrooms will not make any updates to your Facebook profile or timeline unless you choose to do so.

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