Meetings on Zoom or on other video link platforms have become commonplace in times of smartworking, to the point that between uses and abuses over time there has also been a sort of rejection of these forms of connection in favor of real meetings. Meanwhile, Facebook presented a video meeting and conference app based on Virtual Reality. Horizon Workrooms is free to Oculus Quest 2 headset users and allows socializing in VR far beyond entertainment uses such as gaming. The app allows you to meet in a virtual conference room, each represented by a customizable cartoon-like avatar that appears with the upper body on top of a virtual chair and around the table. It supports up to 50 participants in a single meeting, although others, if any, can join without avatars within a grid in the virtual meeting room. Meeting attendees wearing the headset can use their real fingers and hands to gesticulate in VR, and their avatar’s mouths move realistically as they speak. A virtual whiteboard allows people to share pictures or give presentations. Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of Facebook Reality Labs explained that the app has been used internally at Facebook for about a year: “The pandemic in the last 18 months has only given us more confidence in the importance of this technology.” Facebook and its subsidiary Oculus had previously launched the Oculus Rooms and Facebook Spaces apps that allowed small groups of users to come together in VR. However, the company closed both apps during 2019. This new version, however, anticipates Facebook’s declared intentions to aim to generate a real metaverse, a sort of parallel virtual reality. “Let’s not talk about being present on the internet, but to be present in person in digital spaces ”explained Mark Zuckerberg, hypothesizing a decentralized world in which physical distances are canceled, both in work, in education and in leisure, but without the coldness of experience through a screen. Revenues for Facebook, Zuckerberg explained to analysts, will not come from hardware. “Our business model will not derive from the sale of devices at premium prices, our goal is rather to reach as many people as possible”. The aim will therefore be to make VR headsets as affordable as possible so that people can access the metaverse and become part of its economy. Avatars, digital clothing and accessories, apps, content: there is a world of intangibles ready to be purchased. A bit like it already happens in video games like Minecraft and Fortnite, but with a plus: “Much of the experience of the metaverse” explained Zuckerberg “comes from the possibility of bringing your goods and purchases with you from one experience to another” and added “It will be the closest thing to teleportation that we can experience.”
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