Let me guess. You’ve been on Facebook for as long as you can remember, but you’re one of “those people” that hardly logs on anymore? Or you post messages but don’t really have the time to look at your News Feed?
You’re not alone, and Facebook knows!
Despite recently passing two billion active users, Facebook has an aging demographic. Today, people are “on” Facebook like they are “on” Gmail. For many, Facebook has become a communication tool. It’s a way of keeping everyone you know in one place in case you ever need to message them. But the full spectrum of Facebook’s social features are, at times, overshadowed by millennial-hogging competitors.
That’s why Facebook has spent years focusing less on our standard social engagement features and instead moved towards becoming the new “homepage” of the internet: a search tool, a communication tool, and now, a way of hanging out with your friends in a virtual room.
Facebook Spaces is a new Virtual Reality app that allows you to hang out with friends in a virtual environment. While this technology is not new to long-time users of the virtual world Second Life, it is a new platform for Facebook to cross-promote their social media site with Oculus.
It has been two years since Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion–and this at a time when the entire virtual reality industry was said to be worth only $3 billion. Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement on Facebook (no surprise there). He said: “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. … [At] this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences. This is where Oculus comes in.”
How it Works
Facebook Spaces launched in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch on April 18, 2017. Through the Facebook Spaces app, you’re first prompted to create an identity. You start by choosing a photo of yourself and customizing your look with specific VR features. This identity represents the real you in the virtual world and is meant to make you feel like you’re hanging out in person.
Once you’re comfortable with your new avatar, you can get together by inviting your Facebook friends to join you in a virtual world.
In Facebook Spaces, you can draw 3D photos in the air and change your backgrounds and environment by choosing a variety of 360 videos that can transport you into this new space.
Facebook Spaces also lets you call a friend in the real world via Messenger video calling and bring them into your virtual world.
It’s still too early to tell if Facebook’s investment in Oculus will pay off. But Mark and co. are betting on a future in which social is virtual and the younger generations will care.
What do you think? Will you be part of a virtual reality social future?