This launch comes about a year after the social networking giant first demoed the concept of social VR and almost three years after the $3Bn Oculus acquisition. Facebook Spaces that launched today as public beta is a new VR app where you hang out with friends in a fun, interactive virtual environment as if you were in the same room. On their end, you appear as your virtual avatar.
Harassment is a major potential issue with social VR applications, but Facebook seems to have shortcut some of that problem by restricting users to only inviting people to Spaces who they're connected to on the social network.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company was focused on "building community" among its users. There's "a million things we want to add", he says. It enables users to virtually be in-person with friends and family in VR, heaving fun and meaningful experiences no matter where everyone might be. To begin with, it selects six photos of the user from their Facebook profile. Users can then share these selfies on their Facebook feeds, much like they would with a regular selfie. It's also possible to change any number of specific features, such as hairstyle or hair color.
But before you can start virtual reality video conferencing, you're going to need a digital version of you, or as Facebook keeps referring to them as, an avatar.
[Photo: courtesy of Facebook] They can also use a marker tool to create 3D objects, which they can then manipulate and trade back and forth between users in Spaces. These chatrooms can be altered in several unique ways like immersing you in a 360-degree video or engulfing you in a different environment like the outer reaches of earth's atmosphere. Facebook said that it hasn't finished developing Facebook Spaces yet, and you can expect the company to launch new features in the coming months. Among them is AltspaceVR. And that, of course, is what everyone has been waiting for ever since Zuckerberg bought Oculus. The app will allow people to join a shared, immersive video call, represented by a personalized avatar. Here's looking forward to what's next.