Explained: What Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms Tells Us About Mark Zuckerberg’s Big Plan to Create a Virtual Reality “Metaverse”

The term is “metaverse.” Facebook Managing Director Mark Zuckerberg mentioned this new tech buzzword on your company’s latest earnings call. By metaverse, Zuckerberg meant the next phase of the Internet where our physical world merges with the virtual one, creating an entirely new environment. That’s right, think, how we will work, play and live in the future. In fact, Zuckerberg is so convinced of the concept that he has a comprehensive plan to turn his billion dollar social media business into a metaverse business in the next few years.

So how does Facebook account for Zuckerberg’s vision of a virtual reality “metaverse”? Or is it just a bold dream right now? We explain.

Facebook wants to go beyond smartphones: the iPhone made a comeback in 2007, and although Apple Still selling it by the millions and will continue to do so, it’s clear that tech companies are now looking beyond smartphones for growth. Zuckerberg’s alternate reality mixes the real world with digital imagination and the smartphone really has no place in that mix. You need a new kind of device, probably a virtual reality (VR) headset from the era produced by Zuckerberg’s Oculus.

Horizon work rooms is a first step towards a virtual reality “metaverse”: With Oculus, Zuckerberg’s plan is to move directly from smartphones and laptops to virtual reality headsets to engage billions of users with Facebook in one go. more immersive way. While Facebook has had limited success in bringing virtual reality to mainstream consumers despite spending billions of dollars, last week the company took the first major step in expanding the technology’s potential to work by launching Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality version of Zoom and Slack.

The basic idea here is to ditch the old style of video conferencing using a webcam and instead use a VR headset (for example, the Oculus Quest 2) from Facebook to meet up in a VR space. Facebook presents its Horizon Workrooms as a new way to interact with colleagues, but, of course, in virtual reality. Workers can create avatars (those cartoon-like characters in 3D animated workspaces) and communicate with their coworkers in virtual meetings. While Horizon Workrooms is still in beta testing, Facebook is already allowing its Oculus Quest 2 users to test the app.

While not quite Metaverse yet, Horizon seems like a natural extension of Zuckerberg’s strategy to introduce virtual reality as the next computing platform. Zuckerberg himself acknowledged that it will take several years to develop the metaverse experience, but the launch of Workrooms amid the pandemic when everyone is connected remotely shows that our workplace is changing. People will continue to work remotely, with some restrictions, once things are formalized. But you need to rethink the desktop, and to do so, you must switch to immersive technology. Workrooms, in a way, bring everyone together in the same virtual room, regardless of physical distance. Unlike a Zoom meeting, where you have the option to turn off the camera or microphone and go unnoticed while the meeting is still in progress, with Horizon you can view and chat with your virtual avatars. You can see them standing up, giving a presentation, who raised their hand in the meeting, and instantly know who is not there, even if their avatar is.

… But Facebook is an advertising company: Facebook spends billions on the subway and there is a reason behind it. While Facebook will sell the hardware through Oculus VR headsets, the real money will be on advertising.

Zuckerberg has said before that meta-reverse advertising is at the heart of the strategy, but how is Facebook going to bring commerce to this digital world?

If you’ve ever heard of Minecreaft, Robolox, and Fortnite, you know how these platforms and games sell digital goods to users. For example, the Gucci Dionysus bag recently sold for 350,000 Robux, around $ 4,115, and was only available on the Roblox online gaming platform. Gucci’s presence on Roblox shows that a lot of money can be made on the initially popular gaming platform with kids, which is fast becoming a leading metaverse platform for everyone.

Zuckerberg’s dream of “metavers” would take years to come to fruition – the concept of a metaverse seems intriguing at first. In fact, its origins come from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where the Metaverse was a virtual world. Zuckerberg talks about taking a new direction, moving from mobile computing to building a virtual reality ecosystem.

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But it would also mean the end of the social network that we all know. The meaning of social networks will change in a subverse world and the way you will experience it. Instagram and Facebook seem natural on smartphones, but who knows how they become a virtual space.

Then there are also hardware limitations. Not only are they bulky, but the Oculus earbuds aren’t ready for the metaverse yet. The biggest problem with the whole Metaverse concept is that it looks like a fancy marketing campaign to increase adoption of VR and AR headsets.

Facebook may have created the social media economy on its own, but this time there are other big players who also want us to live in a metaverse future. Not only does Zuckerberg have to develop the hardware, software and expertise on his own, he also requires a large investment to create the basic infrastructure and billions of dollars of investment to make the metaverse a reality. Based on Facebook’s history of privacy and misinformation, consumers may not choose to live in a virtual reality “metaverse”.