Facebook is hoping to reunite people in the same meeting room once again – albeit, a virtual one with avatars of colleagues, gesture tracking and infinite whiteboards.
With remote working now a common part of everyday life since the pandemic struck, the social network wants to emulate the full collaborative experience of meeting physically in the same room.
Horizon Workrooms allows workers to put on an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset and be transported to a CGI environment with a mixed-reality desk where they can see and work from their computer screen and keyboard. There is also hand tracking that mimics every move in the virtual world, as well as video conferencing integration.
The technology means you can see an avatar version of colleagues sat around a table with you and 360-degree views of the entire room when looking around.
At the moment, the rooms can host up to 16 people in VR together.
Spatial audio is also used to make sounds more lifelike, so users hear people around them based on where they are seated.
An infinite virtual whiteboard can be used to brainstorm in real-time using a controller, though hands are the main input for most other tasks.
Staff at Facebook have already been using the tool internally to bring people together once more, but the firm is now releasing a free public trial for businesses to test.
Those without a VR headset available can still jump in and participate as a traditional video caller instead.
The social network has assured users that the system will not be used to inform ads and that other people are not able to see your computer screen in Workrooms unless you choose to share it.
“We think VR will fundamentally transform the way we work as a new computing platform, defying distance to help people collaborate better from anywhere,” Facebook said.
“Horizon Workrooms is a big first step towards this vision, and we look forward to hearing your feedback.”