Meta wants you to work in virtual reality. here how it

Meta Platforms Inc. has made it clear that it wants to penetrate the business world with virtual reality technology. So I tested the base Tuesday morning, joining the company’s Connect developer conference via the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset.

The conference was hosted in the company’s Horizon Worlds app, which the company said will soon be filled with basic corporate productivity offerings from Microsoft, Adobe, Accenture and Zoom. Digital avatars that look like cartoon versions of us, except legless (more on that later), will have access to PDFs, Word documents, breakout rooms, and whiteboard meetings.

It’s going to be an adjustment, and it will take more than a few familiar tools for me to win.

Attending the event was not as easy as pulling up a video link. I had to enter the company’s Horizon Worlds app, the virtual universe where people can create and connect with their own mini experiences, and fire up the Connect conference from my events queue. A bright blue loading screen with a flashing “Warning” sign dropped my avatar down a hallway leading to a vast virtual courtyard, with some multi-storey buildings, greenery, and a water swirling gently rolling meta logo. facility was.

For those with some video game familiarity, I’d put the world closer to Roblox or The Sims. The basic, non-flaky design made it easy to navigate. I could tell when my avatar was climbing – er, floating – stairs. The sounds of nature, the bubbling water and the subdued conversations of a few other users around me gave me the feeling of being there. But the dark sky gave no indication of the time or the season; The smell of my real-world coffee was my only reminder that the work day was starting.

A sign for Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address directed me into the courtyard, so I used two joysticks — one grateful for my experience as a casual gamer — to maneuver around the fountain, a few up the stairs and one In the Horizon version of the Metaverse Amphitheater. I was not expected to “walk” to the event, I was about a minute late, but I did get a sign saying 1,200 people were already there.

I didn’t expect that I would have to move around to move around in different parts of the presentation. I began to imagine how the average businessman wearing a headset might feel, fumbling to find his hand controller after setting it up to type mid-meeting.

Then I started to panic that I don’t have a headset and I can’t type at the same time. Apparently, there is a way to set the headset to “see” the world around you through the tiny cameras on the device. I didn’t know how to enable it, and was left squeaking through the nose hole to clack on my keyboard, retrieve my controller, and pull up my Slack or Twitter on my real-world laptop .

At first it seemed unnecessary to watch the presentation in this medium. The meta exec appeared via pre-recorded video, announcing various products in their actual skin; I took my avatar to the bottom for a better view of the landing. Some quirky touches were exclusively available in VR, such as video game characters floating outside the screen or millennial-aesthetic architecture.

It looks like event etiquette in VR is still under development. I had to move to avoid hearing a few dozen people in my room talking during presentations, and a poor soul with a stuffy nose constantly sniffing and blowing it.

Then, a brand new Zuckerberg avatar appeared on stage, wearing a gray sweater, skinny blue jeans, and tech-brow sneakers, which is what he has in real life. He told his virtual audience exactly what they wanted to hear: Soon, they’d get legs. The announcement was a hit. All the avatars swam across the stage to celebrate, like a Sims concert stopped by a virtual banister (even in the Metaverse, Zuckerberg gets protection). Some threw confetti or a thumbs-up emoji to the wind.

Then, it was over. For a reporter like me, the end of the “in-person” event is not the end of our work, and I had planned to interview some of the attendees. But I wasn’t fast enough for those power-off switches as people went back to their real lives or other virtual worlds. The courtyard was empty. And my face hurt.

The PC Mag Quest 2 holds the headset at 17.7 ounces (1.1 lb). Even after adjusting and re-adjusting the straps, that weight was pulling on my face, smudging my makeup and breaking the anti-aging rule of never tugging at the skin. After writing this, I pulled out my cosmetic bag for touch-ups, and wondered how many people who work on virtual reality at Meta wear makeup every day. On Tuesday, the company said more photorealistic avatars are coming, but I still want to present an un-blurred version of myself in the real world even when the headset is turned off.

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