With this announcement on the metaverse facebook launched the open beta of horizon workrooms, the future of work from home and remote working a vr workplace. 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, because we had covered for 18 months, um people working Remotely we will have this kind of weird gap in the road maps, so we talk about collaboration and communication and i think this is better for a lot of those things as well. But the creativity piece is the thing im, the most excited about that you do have a place where, when we do our staff meetings in work rooms um, we like hang out like like when we dont have an agenda. We still are chatting. It feels like so apparently, facebook has been already using horizon workrooms internally for its meetings. Alex heath is a senior reporter with a verge and he had the chance to attend a press briefing in virtual reality, where mark zuckerberg showed up to discuss.

Facebooks ambitions on the metaverse alex joins us to share with us his experience and his viewpoint now. Um alex its good to have you on our show tonight, thanks for having me, so you had the opportunity to take part in this uh facebooks horizon workrooms uh meeting. I suppose – and i suppose this was in a form of a press briefing now. First of all, id like to ask you what your experience was like. It was definitely unique. Ive never done a full meeting in virtual reality before ive used virtual reality, like most people have used it probably for gaming, but its kind of a new thing. In the last couple of years where companies like facebook are starting to push virtual reality for productivity for uh meetings, and so this was facebooks first time showing this new um meeting software in vr off to the public, and i was in a room with mark zuckerberg. The founder and ceo and um it was definitely a unique experience. So uh tell me: how does this app work? I mean, how does it pick up hand, gestures and facial expressions uh? What about the horizon workshop impressed you the most, i would say how it actually um combined the real and the virtual world to the degree that this is the first time i experienced virtual reality where i could bring my computer screen my laptop screen into vr with Me through a companion app on on your computer, and so you can actually be kind of connected to the rest of the internet, as you would normally experience it through your computer through having that screen with you and then the the quest headset has hand tracking, because There are cameras on the front of it and so um you dont actually need to have controllers.

You can use your hands and i was waving around at people and um and because of uh audio in the headset. You can hear things as if they were coming from a particular point in the room. So at one point someone was speaking behind me and it actually sounded like they were behind me, wow, so uh, the audio uh sounds up pretty good. Now, as its still the beta version im sure there were some limitations and glitches during the meeting. What were some of the biggest challenges you or other participants face? As you took part in this meeting, i would say the experience of actually getting into the work room for the first time is why i think this software will not become mainstream anytime soon, its still relatively complicated to get set up. You have to use a website. Oddly enough, you cant sign up in the headset. You have to do it on the web and then you have to enter a pairing code on the website in the headset, which happens while youre wearing the headset. So imagine trying to read something on your laptop screen. While you have a headset on trying to enter it into the key its just a very um unintuitive experience its, not something that i think most people would go through. The trouble of doing just to get into a meeting when zoom like how were talking is so easy. So i think, as it gets easier, more people will find it compelling, because you do really feel like youre in the same space with someone in a way that we dont feel now in kind of two dimensional space.

When you have someone sitting next to you. That sounds like theyre next to you, its a lot more immersive right right, so um from your experience with this open beta app on facebook. Were you able to pick up the perks of conducting a meeting in the metaverse? I mean you just told us about. You know how you felt like you were actually in the same room with the rest of the people. What would you say are the biggest benefits of these? I would say memory recall actually um, and this is something mark zuckerberg actually talked to us about in the meeting is like he does. A lot of calls like most of us are now with zoom all day long or on your computer screen, and he said they all kind of run together. I dont really remember things in them as well as i do when im meeting someone in person and i think theres some truth to that. I actually this meeting is pretty memorable, not just because it was my first vr meeting but because i actually do feel like. I was there in a weird way to a degree that i dont feel like on just normal calls, and so i do think theres that element of like feeling there and having the memory recall that that i think is is profound. Even when the tech is so limited, as it is now, its only going to get more immersive over time were going to start seeing stuff from apple and other companies that is going to be incredibly immersive over the next few years.

So do you see this um as really the future of meeting rooms? I think it will be a significant part of how people meet and collaborate when they are physically together, but i think again that it will take several years. I dont really think vr will be something that tens of millions of people are using every day for, like i said, maybe three to five years optimistically um, but a lot of the giant tech companies are betting on that happening for sure right, and you just mentioned Apple as one but other companies will definitely be following suit and creating a metaverse meeting rooms as such. Do you think itll uh only be limited to a select few tech companies like facebook, or do you see this as a trend that will really prevail over? You know general companies, i think, at the beginning, its going to be a handful of companies, because this technology is very expensive and hard to develop, and you know theres a reason that all the most valuable tech companies in the world are the ones working on it. Really pushing the boundary its just a very hard problem to create these kind of metaverse like experiences where you feel very immersed in a dirt digital space, and so i think its the most well funded largest tech companies like apple microsoft, potentially amazon, definitely facebook. And then some smaller companies like snapchat that are really investing in this as a category and once they make it a reality.

I think youll see a lot of other people come in behind them and kind of fill that market out right. So you you put a timeline of maybe three to five years until um. The average person like myself would actually you know, participate in a meeting of such um. Is that a good enough time frame for uh ceos like zuckerberg, is that the time frame that theyre putting uh theyre really uh gearing towards well the thing with these tech companies? Is they always want um everything to have happened yesterday? So you know theres almost almost like a joke inside apple or facebook, when theyre talking about the timelines for this hardware, um theyre, saying you know its always three or four years out and thats, even what they tell employees and it never is actually three or four Years out there, its always slipping every year, one or two years, so the timelines have already slipped since ive been reporting on it from where people thought it would be so it could take longer. I mean again, these are very hard tech problems, but i think the techs going to be very accessible in three to five years to where it would almost be hard for you not to just try it because its so easy to do all right. Um alex heath, a senior reporter for the verge on his very own experience in facebooks horizon workrooms. Thank you alex for speaking with us tonight.