Virtual reality is often a solo experience — you throw on a headset, plug in some headphones and tune out the world while you play a game or watch a movie.
Facebook thinks it can make make VR more social, and now it has an actual product so people can spend time with other real people in a virtual world.
The product, called “Spaces,” lets users create a digital avatar based on their actual Facebook profile photo, and interact as that person in a virtual world where they can meet other real-world friends.
For example: Two friends who live across the country from one another could put on headsets, open Spaces on the Oculus Rift and meet anywhere in the world as their respective avatars.
Others in the virtual reality industry, including AltspaceVR, have similar products where users can hang out in a virtual world and play games as digital avatars. It’s too soon to know whether or not social VR will help the industry move more mainstream. Right now, VR is limited to a small number of users, primarily gamers, who are willing to fork over money for expensive headsets. Plus, there are plenty of other ways for people to communicate from a distance without a headset.
Still, Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and this is yet another way to do that. Spaces was announced at Facebook’s F8 developer conference Tuesday; it is based on the vision for “social VR” that Facebook unveiled at the same conference in 2016.
Now that vision is a reality — at least for some Facebook users. The Spaces product is launching in beta on Facebook’s Oculus Rift. Here’s Facebook’s promo video for how it might work in real life.
Posted by Facebook Tips on Monday, April 17, 2017
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.