It’s been a little over three years since Facebook acquired Oculus for $2b and since then, little has been known about just how Facebook intends to integrate virtual reality into its social media platform until October last year. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demoed what looks like the future where you can chat with people using your own VR avatar. Using your VR Oculus VR headset in future, you’ll be able to connect more with people just like you do now only this time it’ll be in a virtual environment.
But on Tuesday Facebook made it all official by announcing Spaces which they say is the first integration of virtual reality (VR) into mainstream social media. They launched a beta version of Spaces on Oculus Rift + Touch and this means that those who have Oculus products will soon be able to link their Facebook account for a whole new way of using Facebook in a virtual environment where voice and avatar dominate.
As depicted by Facebook, up to four friends can join a space and do just about anything they would have done on Facebook there. In a space, friends can make Messenger video calls, chat, draw and even watch 360 videos and that’s about it for now until some other features are added.
The other thing to note about Spaces is that you can control the experience at any time and this includes pausing actions and muting your friends or removing them from your space.
As cool as Spaces sounds, it’s just a tip of the iceberg according in the long term VR Facebook plan but as Mark Zuckerberg himself puts it, the full potentials of virtual reality may not be realised in the next 10 years and this is evident in the number of Facebook employees dedicated to this. We hear the figure stands between 30 and 50 but if Spaces is well received by users, you can expect this number to keep growing well into the next decade.
That said, Facebook is bringing a mix of virtual and augmented realties into play here and that’s the future is.
Facebook Spaces launched in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch, and you can download it now from the Oculus Store.