Facebook Delves Into Virtual Reality

By Emma Cesar

At Facebook’s annual F8 conference earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the company’s latest offering: a social, virtual reality app called Facebook Spaces. The app, which will allow participants to see their friends and family in an interactive, digital space, arrives three years after Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of the virtual reality company Oculus in 2014. The app will use Oculus Rift gear and touch sensors to create a virtual world for its users.

Facebook Spaces allows its users to integrate Facebook’s timeline and News Feed interfaces into the virtual reality world, create avatars based on their own appearances, choose from a plethora of 360-degree virtual hangout spaces, and provide an opportunity to hang out with friends from anywhere in the world. Users can draw 3D objects, watch videos, view pictures, play games, and even share their creations or chat with non-VR friends through Facebook Messenger’s instant video feature. The app also features several customization options for your avatar, including eye color, hairstyle, facial features, and more.

“It’s an extension of who you are and the technology lets your humanity shine through,” Rachel Franklin, Head of Social VR at Facebook, said during her keynote talk at the F8 conference.

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In order to ensure that the app remains a positive place for all of its users, developers have also included the option to “pause” the app, allowing quiet time away from friends. Players of Facebook Spaces also have the ability to mute or remove specific friends from their space for any reason.

The Facebook Spaces app, now available in beta, offers a unique, new way to connect with friends and family virtually. Although still in development, Facebook plans to expand and improve upon their new app. Franklin added, “we’ve only just scratched the surface of social VR technology,” alluding to future advancements within the technology and promising to bring Facebook Spaces to additional platforms over time.