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Facebook’s First Social VR Released

Facebook’s First Social VR Released

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, may have opened their F8 event yesterday in fine form proselytising about AR – and if you haven’t caught up with his opening address, find out the key points here- but he wasn’t the only member of senior management to take to the stage to disclose the social media company’s progress in the sector.

 

As you might expect from Facebook’s Head of Social VR, Rachael Franklin assured us that, “We’re building VR with people at the centre”. And to put that into practice, she gave us our first look at what she called, “The first Facebook product to bring VR to life.”

Franklin observed that, “Even though you’re wearing a headset, it’s still you in VR... and the technology lets your humanity shine through... VR has the promise to be the most powerful social platform.”

 

Facebook Spaces

Announced and released on the same day, Franklin describes Facebook Spaces as, “A space for you to be yourself with your real friends wherever you are”. She also said, “It’s awesome!”

Facebook Spaces lets you view Facebook content with friends in VR, including 360 videos and photos. You can also draw in the air with a virtual marker to create virtual objects.

The software has been built around three pillars of the social computing platform:

  1. Be yourself
  2. Your friends
  3. Your space

 

Don’t Shoot The Messenger

Facebook Spaces isn’t a closed system, as it’s integrated with Messenger Video Calls, “So you can just call your friends and give them a window into your virtual world”. Bridging the divide between VR/AR, smartphones and PCs, this functionality should accelerate adoption of the technology.

Integration with conventional Messenger should ensure Spaces' success.
 

Avatars Made Easy

Users need avatars to exist in a virtual space and Facebook hopes to make the process of creating one as straightforward as possible. Franklin said, “We use machine learning to quickly suggest AI generated avatar options waiting for you to choose based on your Facebook pictures”. She went on to add that, “You can customise them until you’re happy.” There’s no word on whether we can create a three-headed dog called Fluffy...

It seems VR is no refuge from the selfie stick, making numerous appearances at F8.

And because no F8 presentation would be complete without it, Franklin reminded us that, “We’re sharing a very early version as we explore the beginnings of Social VR”.

 

You can download Facebook Spaces for Rift and Touch in beta now from the Early Access section of the Oculus Store

 

F8 2017 continues today, with a focus on long-term investments in connectivity, AI, VR, AR and hardware. Check back for updates.

Editor

Steve has been a games journalist on and off since the first PlayStation made games ‘cool’, but he’s never forgotten the thrill of finding a Space Invaders machine in the wild. Neuromancer is one of his favourite books and The Matrix is one of his favourite movies, so he’s been ready for VR all his life.

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