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Facebook Launches VR Meetings But Why

‘Workrooms’ allows the distributed workforce to come together in a virtual conference room, but will the high-tech collaboration solution find mass appeal?

If you hate Zoom, you’re sure to despise Facebook’s new solution for better remote collaboration. Horizon Workrooms allows users with an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset to “meet” at a virtual conference room, interacting via a cartoonish avatar. It’s sort of like embodying your own Bitmoji if it were cut in half, with the torso just hovering above a virtual desk chair.

Facebook VR meeting

Or as some on Twitter have dubbed it: “Animal Crossing for work meetings.”

The Workrooms app is free to use (though an Oculus headset will set you back a few hundred bucks). Up to 16 people on VR headsets can gather virtually around a sturdy pixel-board conference table. The app allows 50 people in the meeting, but the others would join as video callers who appear on a flat screen in the virtual meeting room. Participants wearing VR headsets can use their hands to gesture during meetings, and their avatars’ mouths also move while they speak. The space includes a virtual whiteboard that allows people to share pictures or make presentations.

“The pandemic in the last 18 months has only given us greater confidence in the importance of this as a technology,” Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook Reality Labs, said during a presentation to announce the app, according to CNN Business.

Facebook says it’s been using the Workrooms technology internally for the last year. Calling it their “flagship collaboration experience,” the company says it’s a melding of several technologies, including mixed-reality desk and keyboard tracking, hand tracking, remote desktop streaming, videoconferencing integration, spatial audio and the aforementioned avatars. “We think it’s one of the best ways to work if you can’t be physically together,” Facebook wrote in its announcement of the new technology.

In addition to the high-tech hand tracking features, the app also offers more traditional meeting features, like file sharing, calendar integration, chat and meeting notes.

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