In early 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion and promised the world that virtual reality video games, and more, would be on the way. That was over three years ago, which is a very long time in the tech world.
Since then, we’ve seen many VR headsets come to market – Google’s Cardboard and Daydream headsets, Sony’s PlayStation VR, and HTC’s Vive just to name a few. On Tuesday, we finally saw what the company has been up to since acquiring one of the leaders in VR technology.
During Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a huge chunk of the keynote to talk about Facebook Spaces, the venture in which the social media platform is introducing virtual reality into everyday life for its users.
Virtual Reality Meets Social Media
When Facebook bought Oculus VR, Zuckerberg made it clear that the company wanted to be the first to introduce a new way of communicating with family and friends that was more interactive, more personal, and more… well… social.
“This is really a new communication platform,” said Zuckerberg back in 2014. “By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”
Spaces is just the first of many products to come from Facebook’s virtual reality mission. It’s a way to connect with someone on the other side of the world as if you are sitting right next to them.
You can share your own experiences with friends or make new ones from the comfort of your own home, but feels as if you’re traveling all over the place. By living in a virtual world, even just for a few minutes a day, the entire social experience is forever altered – and that’s Facebook’s ultimate goal.
Using ‘Spaces’ to Create, Entertain and Even Work
Facebook Spaces allows you to create an avatar of yourself to go on these adventures in virtual reality. The avatars aren’t the most life-like, but they’re more of a huge step up from a character you would create on the Wii.
In time, I’m sure features will be added to give a more realistic look to the avatars, but for now these will do.
After you’ve made your avatar, you decide what to do (or not do) next. Meet up with friends at a designated ‘space’ and have fun. Spaces lets users draw 3D objects that are completely animated along with the rest of the frame in which the user is participating in.
Say it’s someone’s birthday and you just can’t make it to the celebration. Hang out with your friend in a virtual reality setting and make them a cake yourself. It’s not as good as the real deal, obviously, but it’s a way to engage on a more personal level when you can’t physically be part of a real world experience.
One feature that wasn’t really discussed, but has been tossed around a bit by developers, is using Facebook Spaces for work. We live in a remote world where many people work from home or travel while they meet deadlines, go to meetings, and more.
Having a virtual space to meet with coworkers or clients gives companies and their customers a completely new way to conduct business. It’s more personal (and more fun) than a phone or video call, easier to avoid scheduling conflicts as setup is easy and it can be done anywhere, and it fits well into our growing business environment that is constantly on-the-go.
Plus, there’s no mess to clean up afterward and everyone can stay in their pajamas. Oh, modern technology, how we love thee.
The Future of Communication
Zuckerberg and his team have a 10-year plan for creating more advances in both virtual reality and social media communications. Programs are being developed to help artists create filters and stickers for the new augmented reality camera features.
Facebook will also begin offering Developer Circles exclusively to those who want to help improve the site and all of its extensions. The company will be expanding its reach into our reality, no matter what the cost or how long it takes.