Facebook Previews the Next Stages of Digital Connection at its Connect 2021 Conference
With a corporate name change, Facebook is expressing its developing focus on the expanding metaverse notion, which it believes will enable individuals, and Facebook (or ‘Meta’), evolve their interaction processes in nearly every aspect.
Which could have a big impact on how we work and play – and today, Facebook has previewed a few of those next level features at its annual Connect AR/VR conference, including new AR tools, advanced VR options and other, longer-term hardware projects that are set to become central to the new Facebook model.
Here’s a look at some of the key announcements.
Even while it has been said that no single corporation would own the metaverse (we all know Facebook will try anyway), Facebook’s first move toward owning it will be to construct the necessary connecting layer that will unite individuals within the digital reality. Horizon Home is Facebook’s main push in this area, with the new platform incorporated into the Oculus VR experience’s basis.
As explained by Facebook:
“Soon, you’ll be able to invite your friends to join you in Horizon Home, where you can hang out, watch videos, and jump into games and apps together.”
Users will be able to exchange messages, conduct video or audio conversations, and schedule meet-ups for collaborative experiences in the digital domain, as shown in the video. Which will soon be supplemented by services such as ‘Venues,’ which will allow users to ‘experience the energy of live events from the comfort of their own home,’ including NBA games and other sports within the area.
This is a critical component of Facebook’s developing metaverse campaign, and although it may not be the most glamorous or interesting of its recent announcements, nothing else works without it.
Another major announcement is the development of a VR version of the Rockstar Games classic ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’, providing an even more immersive experience for the millions of GTA fans worldwide.
While VR gear sales have been increasing and more developers are jumping on board, no huge, compelling VR titles have been able to make it into a larger, popular consideration. The technology is one thing, and it has an attractiveness for specialized gamers, but the true drive for VR is to bring in the public and get people talking about their VR experiences on a larger scale.
GTA in VR will almost surely achieve that, and although it will take some time to build – Facebook has yet to reveal any pictures or examples – it might be the thing that propels VR adoption to new heights.
For context, GTA games have cumulatively sold over 350 million copies worldwide, with the most recent GTA title selling 150 million in its own right. That’s a huge fan base that will be very keen on this next-level experience.
VR for business
Facebook is also working on new virtual reality technologies to help people work from home more effectively, in line with the WFH trend.
Facebook has announced that it will begin testing its new ‘Quest for Business’ platform soon, which will allow users to log in to their Quest VR headsets with a Work Account and facilitate collaborative work environments, giving you the feeling of being in the same physical space as colleagues while working remotely.
With the ability to “transport your work from your monitor to Quest 2 and back again,” this might be even more useful than real desks and locations.
“Today we announced that services like Slack, Dropbox, Facebook and Instagram, and many more will soon work in VR as 2D panel apps in Horizon Home, and you’ll be able to download them from the Quest Store.”
Such integrations will provide more collaborative work options, that could revolutionize remote working processes, and improve productivity and engagement.
Facebook also shared details of its upcoming AR development initiatives, including new training programs for aspiring digital creators and advanced spatial understanding in AR, which will facilitate new forms of display and engagement.
On the training front, which will help Facebook build a broader range of AR experiences, the company announced a new ‘Polar’ AR creation app, which will help people with no prior experience in art, design, or programming to build AR experiences.
And finally, Facebook’s launching a new, $150 million initiative “to train the next generation of creators building immersive educational content”.
Elements like this are key in AR innovation, as they expand the pool of creativity beyond Facebook’s own development teams, which will facilitate a far broader range of AR engagement and interaction options across its apps.
World and People AR
Facebook’s also developing advanced AR capacity, with body tracking to facilitate more immersive AR features, and ‘World AR’ geo-anchored experiences.
Snap already has variations of both, with Facebook playing catch up on these tools. But each will form a key part of the company’s evolving AR glasses experience, with digital overlays to be revealed through the frames, providing a range of new utility and entertainment options.
On another front, Facebook’s also working with BMW to develop AR features that could eventually help drivers navigate their surroundings.
The race for AR supremacy will heat up over the coming months, and Facebook will be a key player, and it’ll be interesting to see where it can take its AR glasses, as it advances beyond the initial Ray Ban Stories model.
The Next Level
Real-time 3D reconstructions of humans, which provide accurate renderings of themselves in a digital world, are among Facebook’s most sophisticated AR and VR initiatives, as is its ongoing work on wristbands that can detect nerve impulses and utilize them as a trigger for digital reaction.
All of them will play a role in the next stage of digital connectivity, and while it may seem like a long way off, these current developments are making progress and will arrive sooner than you think.
The next stage of digital connection will occur in the virtual domain, and as seen by the growing popularity of NFTs and other digital-only initiatives, interest in that stage is growing. When you examine how much time young people are spending in virtual worlds like Fortnite, Roblox, and others throughout the epidemic, and how it will affect their interacting behaviors, it’s easy to understand how the next stage will emerge within the present capacity.
That will eventually alter everything, and for marketers, it will open up a slew of new chances to learn, adapt, and improve your strategy.
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