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The new software, available as a free app for Oculus Quest 2 VR headset owners, will be called Horizon Workrooms and aims to offer workers a way to meet in a virtual conference room. Currently, the application’s sessions support up to 16 VR headset users at once, with each person represented by a customizable avatar they will directly control. For a single meeting, up to 50 participants can join as regular video callers who can appear on a screen in the virtual room.
Those inside the workspace with a headset will also be able to use their fingers and hands while discussing any work plans, and when they speak their avatars will match their speech.
"The pandemic in the last 18 months has only given us greater confidence in the importance of this as a technology," said Facebook Reality Labs VP Andrew Bosworth, who added that the FB team has been using Horizon internally for a year already.
"It basically gives you the opportunity to, you know, sit around a table with people and work, and brainstorm and whiteboard ideas," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, per CBS News. "For people who can't be there through virtual reality, they could just video conference in. So you can include everyone. But it's this pretty amazing experience where, you know, you feel like you're really right there with your colleagues."
While Facebook has mostly utilized its Oculus VR platform for video games, this isn’t the first time the company has deployed the technology for something other than gaming. In 2016 and ’17, the company debuted the apps Oculus Rooms and Facebook Spaces, although both were shut down in October 2019.