Imagine being able to get together with your co-workers, share what you’re working on in real time, see and hear each other, without being in the same room or even the same city. That’s called a Zoom meeting. Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms, a newly revealed attempt by the social network to use its Oculus VR division for something other than eNtErTaInMeNt, is very much a similar concept. Only you need a Facebook-made VR headset to play.
Horizon Workrooms: Zero Dawn
Okay, so we’re dumping on this new idea because it’s Facebook and they’re big enough to look after themselves. Horizon Workrooms is basically a Zoom meeting with VR goggles but the company really wants you to be excited about it. Maybe they’re even right but that means they might have a point about the whole ‘metaverse’ thing. The feature, which is in beta right now and is available to anyone with an Oculus Quest 2, “…lets people come together to work in the same virtual room, regardless of physical distance.”
It does this by combining Oculus hand tracking with a VR environment, throws in a little spatial audio (so people sound like they’re further away when they look further away), a little mixed reality (it’ll show compatible keyboards in the virtual space) and screen-sharing so you can have an in-person meeting without having an in-person meeting. Only you’ve all got to look like you were a demo character model for The Sims 2.
Which is all a very sarcastic way of saying that we wouldn’t be averse to trying it out. Early reports of Horizon Workrooms suggest that it’s more than it appears to be from the outside, goofy character avatars aside. Those without a VR headset costing several thousand rands can dial in to the meeting using a webcam, and the virtual space supports up to sixteen VR attendees and up to 50 video attendees.
It still sounds like Zoom with extra steps but Facebook has promised that “Workrooms will not use your work conversations and materials to inform ads on Facebook. Additionally, Passthrough processes images and videos of your physical environment from the device sensors locally. Facebook and third-party apps do not access, view or use these images or videos to target ads.” Which is fine for now, but the company is known for changing its mind about this sort of thing a few years after the fact, because money. Still, we’ll give Horizon Workrooms a shot. Just as soon as we can round up more than one Oculus Quest 2.