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Facebook promises immersive virtual reality meetings with Horizon Workrooms

Facebook promises immersive virtual reality meetings with Horizon Workrooms

VR meetings have not yet reached their full potential, but Facebook says its VR environment will be improved through video calls for team collaboration.

Facebook on Thursday revealed its vision to make remote meetings more captivating by introducing Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality application for team collaboration. But persuading employees to wear virtual reality headsets for conference meetings or companies to buy hardware could be a difficult sale, analysts say.

Facebook presented Horizon , its virtual reality social space accessed through Oculus VR headphones, last year, although it remains in private beta. However, this latest version, Horizon Workrooms, aims to replicate meetings in conference rooms, with colleagues being described as animated avatars.

According to a blog post Facebook , Horizon Workrooms can improve team communication and collaboration, “whether it’s gathering together to brainstorm or create a whiteboard an idea, work on a document, listen to updates from your team. , to attend a meeting and socialize or simply to have better conversations that flow more naturally ”.

Other features include mixed reality keyboards that allow users to access their laptop while in virtual space, manual tracking for more expressive avatar animations, and a spatial audio system that adjusts the way people call others. People based on their relative locations in the virtual camera. .

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Facebook is not the only technology company that focuses on virtual reality collaboration. Spatial application allowed virtual encounters with 3D avatars for several years, while the Microsoft Mesh app for HoloLens, announced earlier this year , has a similar purpose.

However, the adoption of such technologies has not yet reached widespread acceptance in the workplace and faces several obstacles, such as fatigue due to wearing bulky headphones and the business cost of implementing devices for employees. (Oculus Quest 2 devices cost around $ 300.)

Outside of niche applications, such as complex training or engineering review scenarios, the buyer’s interest in virtual reality for remote collaboration remains low, according to research by analytics firm Metrigy.

«I don’t see the virtual reality used to replace the average video conferencing soon because of the cost, bandwidth, complexity and lack of desire of most people to immerse themselves in VR experiences,» said Irwin Lazar, president and CEO of Metrigy. analyst.

«They also do not allow easy sharing of content,» he said. «I guess they’ll find some level of adoption for virtual events before they meet.»

Raul Castanon, a senior research analyst at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, said the business use of virtual environment applications boomed during the pandemic, although adoption levels remain relatively low.

Adoption tends toward a specific vertical use, he said, with the production and health sectors as early adopters. Common use cases in these industries include product design, training and remote assistance, as well as collaborative meetings.

«I hope that the adoption of Horizon Workrooms initially follows these trends and can be extended to cover broader horizontal cases as well as use cases in other verticals, such as retail, field work and technical assistance,» Castanon said.