Facebook Inc. is trying to expand its virtual horizons.
Oculus's virtual reality team on Wednesday announced Facebook Horizon, described as "the ever-expanding world of VR," where people can interact with others as digital avatars. Users will be able to add features and elements to the world, which Facebook says is "constantly growing with extraordinary creations made by Horizon citizens."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the program on stage at the annual Oculus Developers Conference in San Jose, California.
The product comes across as a blend of a number of past and current virtual world design proposals ̵
The company did not explain exactly how Horizon would work. Facebook said the product will launch as a closed beta test in 2020, and he shared some additional details in a blog post Wednesday afternoon. Consumers will be able to interact with each other on a virtual city square and then jump to different parts of the world using "magic portals – called telepods."
Facebook has long described virtual reality as a technology that aligns with its mission to connect everyone around the world. But VR has never made the mainstream the way Facebook had ever hoped, and the most popular VR experiences were more soothing. Games, for example, are still the most common use case of VR, and putting on a headset can help you connect with others online, but it doesn't work well when you are in the physical presence of others.
Horizon is Facebook's latest effort to change that and a chance to bring a more social element to virtual reality.
"It's kind of our bread and butter as a company," Zuckerberg said. "We build many of the best social experiences for phones and computers, and we want to do it for virtual reality as well."
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The company has tried a similar approach in the past. Oculus now offers a feature called Oculus Rooms that allows people to spend time together in digital space using VR. The horizon aims to be larger – a place where you can jump between different games and areas with more people than the Rooms are activated.
Facebook announced a handful of other conference updates, including a hands-on deployment plan for its latest VR headset, the Oculus Quest. Hand tracking means that people will be able to use their hand movements to interact with a game or application on the device without the need for physical controllers. The announcement came less than 48 hours after Facebook said it agreed to acquire CTRL-Labs, a brain-starting computer trying to build a technology that would allow people to interact with a digital screen using only theirs thoughts.
September 26, 2019 9:42 AM IST