Last October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at Oculus Connect 3 and demoed a seemingly far-off app where friends could speak and interact in VR. Today, the first day of the annual Facebook Developers Conference, a nearly identical app called Facebook Spaces launches in beta.
With Facebook Spaces, Oculus Rift users can interact with friends and family in a virtual alternate universe, a metaverse for social exploits like exploring Facebook content, video calling friends, taking VR selfies and diversions like drawing 3D objects with virtual markers. Each user is represented by a customized cartoon avatar.
While VR evangelists have long claimed that it will one day become commonplace to interact virtually, Spaces represents a substantive push to make this sci-fi-like prediction a reality. Similar apps already exist (such as Oculus Rooms and Parties, and third-party apps like AltSpace VR), but backed by the might of Facebook (which owns Oculus), this one is poised to become more widespread.
Facebook Spaces requires a Rift headset and Touch controllers, not to mention a VR-ready PC. Cost alone is a significant barrier against the mainstream embrace of social VR, but others – such as hardware limitations and goggle-induced nausea – are also potential hurdles.
Apart from the Rift setup, you'll also need a Facebook account in order to try Spaces. The beta version of the app is available for free in the Oculus Store.
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