Facebook released its new virtual reality office meeting software, Horizon Workrooms, to enable work from home Virtual Reality (VR) experience. The first version would work with Oculus devices which are not yet widely used. Now Facebook has announced that it’s teaming up with Zoom to integrate Workrooms even more deeply into everyday work flows, starting next year.
Regardless of physical distance, people will be able to meet up inside Workrooms and feel like they’re in the same room together. With immersive features like avatars and 3D spatial audio, and the ability to access the desktop computer and keyboard seamlessly from VR, Workrooms are designed to improve the team’s ability to collaborate, communicate, and connect. And starting next year, Facebook we’ll be taking Workrooms to the next level, letting users easily join Zoom Meetings and use Zoom Whiteboard all from within VR.
The new product is another sign that Facebook is investing heavily in its VR- and AR-filled “meta-verse,” which CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently described as an “embodied internet” where people communicate through digital representations of themselves. Facebook recently created an executive team to build out the meta-verse, and as of last March, nearly a fifth of the company was working on AR or VR, according to recent media reports.
How Workrooms works
When you’re in a Horizon Workrooms meeting, the idea is that it should feel almost like you’re actually in the same physical space as the other people in the room.
Based on what we know from Facebook’s demo videos and product descriptions, participants are supposed to experience a kind of “mixed reality,” which combines aspects of the virtual world with the real one — for example, you can still type on your actual computer keyboard and have that register in the simulated meeting room.
Once you’re in the meeting room, you can do all the things you’d do in a regular video conference, but with some enhancements. For example, you can collaborate on a virtual whiteboard, which you can write on using hand gestures (which the Oculus headset tracks) or an Oculus hand-held controller.