Facebook, Virtual reality ’s Horizon Workrooms for Oculus Quest 2
We talked about the future of work. I took notes on my laptop with my ghost hands thats, because we were meeting in vr with facebooks new workspace called horizon workrooms horizon workrooms is a vr app and to use it, you need an oculus quest, 2 headset. This is facebooks vr, headset thats been out since last fall. The idea is that you put this on and then all of a sudden youre in some sort of a work space with a whole bunch of other people moving around and talking and sitting at your desks. There have been other vr apps, like this spatial, has something like this, that ive tried in the past year or so, where you get to meet with people, and you get to walk around virtual things. Microsoft has a new tool called microsoft, mesh thats looking to do a similar thing with holographic avatars in ar and vr, but were facebooks horizon. Workrooms gets a lot weirder and more interesting is that it takes your computer with you and your desk. So when i did the demo, i had to scan my desk as part of the experience. Oculus actually had this tool built into the quest too, to bring your desk and even some keyboards into vr to type and work on that screen that youre wearing on your face now workrooms also pulls off another trick. It casts your computer screen into the vr experience and what it feels like is it displays a hovering screen in front of your desk kind of like a disembodied monitor between that and my keyboard, which i could see floating in front of me.
I felt like i had a computer that i could work on. I was working in slack. I was doing google docs stuff. While i was attending the meeting, which was crazy, thats the thing about vr right now, is you put on the headset and then youre trapped in this world, where you cant get back to your other devices if youre diving into this virtual universe, why cant you take Your other tech tools with you, the other thing you can do in horizon workrooms – is draw on a whiteboard theres, a really clever trick, where your controller can flip around and become a marker in the world. So if i write on my actual desk, it turns into a drawing that i can then post onto the whiteboard and even the table that youre sitting at can change. Configurations were all sitting at this multi faceted circular table that look like were all together, but i could feel my own desk surface that can reconfigure into a different type of conference, room table or even rows like a classroom where, suddenly we were all looking at a Whiteboard and then we went back again, but its pretty much a seated experience, facebooks, starting with laptops and its a beta app. So things were a little weird like mark, zuckerberg dropped in to talk to me and a bunch of other reporters in that room. The idea is, like you go in wherever you are, you can have your perfect setup.
You can have all your your different monitors, um. You know people can can stop in and collaborate quickly, but its its really great for kind of focused work, um and that will get better over time. The second area is around collaboration, which is really what this is focused on, which is you know the notion that, like we, shouldnt really have to have to physically be together to feel present or collaborate or brainstorm. Sometimes my hands didnt always move the way i wanted them to theres hand tracking, which happens via the oculus quest ii front cameras, so you can move your hands around point at people or wave. Sometimes that drops out or it gets a little jittery. It might look like i was raising my hand when i wasnt and then finally theres the fact that youre a cartoon, avatar and thats, because when youre working in vr theres no camera thats. Looking at what you really are looking like in the real world. Now, in a whole, world, full of zooms and hangouts and face times were used to seeing ourselves flat and our actual faces, vr flips that so that youre able to move around, but you lose your actual face. Eventually, facebook wants to develop super realistic, avatars that approximate our real world selves or maybe at some point ar glasses, can find a way to scan us with cameras and show that part too, but thats. Why, when you look at what im doing in this work app, it looks cartoonish because its the best thing that can happen right now.
What you gain in that sense that i can look around at the table. I lose that sense of hey that reporter. I know whats he really looking at or mark zuckerberg. Is that him? I believe its him sounds like him actually mark zuckerberg also appeared on a video chat beforehand and then beamed in as the avatar now whats, particularly interesting about horizon workrooms is this is something that facebooks been using for the last six months or so. When i got to talk to mark zuckerberg earlier this year, he had mentioned that people at facebook were dog fooding or using this type of vr work app to see how it functioned. This is that app and the pitch is that its something thats, more creative and more like being in an office than just zooming, so not something that you use all the time, but something you might use if you feel like you want to get together with the Team and chat a bit now: ive used vr, theater, apps and other types of experiences that have put me together with people, and it does have a kind of a a transporting presence. Type thing it makes me feel a little more relaxed than a zoom plus. I can wear whatever i want. I mean i was wearing cargo shorts and a crappy new york jets shirt and nobody knew i mean thats kind of thing you can get away with in vr, because there are no cameras.
Looking at you, i wouldnt really want to do that all the time, but it points out a kind of comfort. I dont feel like im being seen, i feel like i can be heard and i can still have some presence thats a little bit different than what zoom is like its not quite the same fatigue. But i felt a different fatigue, which was just having this headset on all the time. So where does this all go from here? Facebook has had great ambitions, not just in vr and ar, but in this idea of the metaverse trying to build some sort of social glue between all of your devices so that you can work in and out of vr and in and out of maybe their future Ar glasses that project, holograms and other things into the real world that stuffs not all fully here yet but facebook is trying to build other tools similar to horizon workrooms. In fact, they have this whole other app called facebook horizon thats a creative tool for building your own worlds, with these same types of avatars that hasnt launched yet, but it looks like workrooms, is one piece of that puzzle. I also asked mark zuckerberg about what about other devices things like phones. Could you take your phone out and work on it in vr, which seems like it would be incredibly useful? Not yet, but eventually, as you can imagine, these devices are going to get smaller more.
Like my glasses, i think thats the goal, but the ecosystem battle is huge. Youve got a lot of companies playing in the space and they all want a piece of this puzzle and a part of your homework environment. What apps will work, which ones will feel comfortable and what ones will companies gravitate to? We dont know so facebooks pioneering something thats very interesting, but its very early days. There are a lot of different work tools in vr and after an hour, my eyes felt pretty tired. I needed a break and i do a lot of vr so obviously theres a real limit to how much you actually want to spend doing this, but facebooks also working on bringing other people into it, who arent wearing vr headsets workrooms works with people who are doing Video chat on computers and phones, you could send an invite link and have them hop in. We actually saw a screen where people were talking in one of those little zoom like grids, while we were all appearing as avatars its one smaller step to where this future of virtual work might go and ive been working at home for a year and a half Plus i wouldnt want to do all my work in vr, but the ability to bring my laptop in a vr really changed the experience, and i hope that there are more tools that allow you to do that to allow devices to work together because vr cant just Be on an island and facebooks metaverse needs a lot of hook and help from other partners too.
You know, i think video conferencing has gotten has taken us pretty far, but um, but i dont know i mean i can. I can just tell you that when, as we start, you know planning to go back into the office um, you know im im, not super excited about about just continuing to have just this um. You know have most video most meetings be over video um and what were trying to move towards is a world where uh, a lot of what we do is is in here, and the people who cant be in here can can be on video.