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Meeting Face to Face in Virtual Reality

While a virtual meeting is currently a group of people getting together on Zoom or MS Teams, Facebook has plans for a whole new method.

Using the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset, participants could meet in a virtual room as though they are all actually together. Provided all participants have the compatible Virtual Reality headset you could be sitting at your desk at home and join the Horizon Workroom where you’ll see you meeting participants.

Being part of the experience, you can design and model your avatar to look just like you, customizing everything from hair colour to the size of your nose. The headset doesn’t just allow you to look around the room but also interact with it. The Oculus Quest 2 has a joystick for each hand which means you could still mimic hand gestures in a meeting.

Taking the hand motion into consideration Horizon Workrooms will also allow you to annotate on a whiteboard, on objects or a presentation using your hands just like holding a whiteboard marker.

During meetings you’ll be able to bring content in for demonstration such as a PowerPoint file or video but you’ll also be able to invite guests who are not part of the Oculus or Horizon Workrooms system. They could join using a webcam and they wouldn’t be represented as characters in the world but appear like someone connected on a screen in the room.

Horizon Workrooms will support up to 16 people together in VR and up to 50 extra people on a video call. The service is available free for those using Oculus Quest 2 in supported countries.

Geoff’s Take: When you consider how distracted you can be when on a Zoom meeting (opening other tabs, looking at your phone) you have to imagine that an experience like this, which is totally immersive, could be a game changer. The obvious first obstacle is the acquisition of the headsets but participants who will use the service, perhaps a team that regularly meets. We could be moving to a world where students and then workers have a VR headset as a standard, like a smartphone is today.

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