Facebook Spaces unveiled as new virtual reality ‘hang out’ space

On Tuesday, Facebook unveiled its newest platform at its annual developers’ conference, a place you can hang out with your social media friends in virtual reality (VR).

Facebook Spaces gives users the opportunity to create a personalized avatar using their Facebook photos. Through this avatar, users can interact with others in a virtual world.

The test version of Facebook Spaces is based on the use of Oculus Rift headgear.

Facebook Spaces lets Rift users “hang out” with friends in virtual worlds as if they were in the same room in the real world, according to a demonstration by Rachel Franklin, who heads the social VR team at the California-based firm.

“We have only just scratched the surface of social virtual reality technology,” she said.

While kicking off the conference in the heart of Silicon Valley, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg also launched a mission to make smartphone cameras windows to augmented reality, focusing on what people have in hand instead of waiting for high-tech eyewear.

He called smartphone cameras an initial and promising platform for augmented-reality features in applications tailored to synch with the social network.

“I am confident now we are going to push this augmented-reality platform forward,” Zuckerberg said, predicting the technology would eventually be incorporated into eyeglasses.

“We are going to make the camera the first mainstream augmented-reality platform.”

He noted an array of things that could easily fill their roles virtually, such as game boards or television screens, with users being able to easily play or view without need for physical versions.

An upbeat Zuckerberg, who fired off jokes, also showed how digital plants, animals, masks and more could be added to real scenes viewed through smartphone cameras in the same manner that games such as Pokemon Go let people catch animated creatures in the world around them.

“Augmented reality will help us mix the digital and the physical in new ways,” Zuckerberg said during a keynote presentation.


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