Facebook is taking some big steps in the next generation of digital connectivity, with a change of company name signaling its development focus on expanding the metaverse concept, which it believes will help people, and Facebook (or ‘Meta’) evolving its interactive processes, to almost every way.
Which could have a big impact on how we work and play – and today at its annual Connect AR / VR conference, Facebook unveiled several of these next-level features, including new AR tools, advanced VR options and other, longer-term hardware projects that would should become central to the new Facebook model.
Here’s a look at some of the key announcements.
Facebook’s first step toward owning a metaverse – although it is repeatedly said that no company will own that space (we all know Facebook will try anyway) – will be to build an essential layer of connectivity that will connect people within the digital realm. Horizon Home is Facebook’s key driver in this regard, with a new platform built into the foundation of the Oculus VR experience.
As Facebook explains:
“Soon you’ll be able to invite your friends to join you at Horizon Home, where you can hang out, watch videos and jump into games and apps together.”
As you can see in the video, users will be able to send messages, make video or audio calls, and organize meetings for a collaborative experience in the digital realm. Which will soon expand even further with features like ‘Venues’, which will allow users to’enjoy the energy of live events from the comfort of your home ’, including NBA games and other indoor sports.
This is a key element of Facebook’s evolving metaverse, and while it may not be the sexiest, nor the most exciting of its new announcements, without this layer of connectivity nothing else works.
Another significant announcement is the development of the VR version of the Rockstar Games classic ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’, which provides an even more impressive experience for millions of GTA fans around the world.
This is a crucial next step for VR, as as sales of VR headsets grow and more developers come to the ship, so far there have been no big, compelling VR titles that could transform it into a larger, mainstream consideration. Technology is one thing, and there’s an appeal to niche game enthusiasts in it, but the real impetus for VR lies in attracting the masses and encouraging people to talk about their VR experiences on a wider scale.
GTA in VR will almost certainly do that, and while some development will be needed – and Facebook has yet to have screenshots or examples to share – this could end up being a thing that will greatly increase VR adoption.
For context, GTA games have sold cumulatively in over 350 million copies worldwide, and the latest GTA title has sold in 150 million alone. It’s a huge fan base that will be thrilled with this next-level experience.
VR for work
Facebook is also developing new VR tools to better enable work at home, relying on the WFH shift.
Facebook says it will soon begin testing its new ‘Quest for Business’ platform, which will allow users to sign in to their Quest VR headsets with a work account, and will facilitate collaborative work environments, giving you the feeling of being in the same physical space as and colleagues while working remotely.
And it could actually be even more functional than physical desks and space, with the capacity to “transfer your work from your monitor to Quest 2 and back.”
“Today we announced that the services are like Slack,, Dropbox,, Facebook i Instagram, and many others will soon be working in VR as 2D panel applications in Horizon Home, and you will be able to download them from the Quest Store. ”
Such integrations will provide more options for collaborative work, which could revolutionize remote workflows and improve productivity and engagement.
Facebook has also shared details about its upcoming AR development initiatives, including new training programs for ambitious 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 wider range of AR experiences, the company has announced a new ‘Polar’ app for creating AR, which will help people with no previous experience in art, design or programming to build AR experiences.
Facebook is also launching a new certification process within its Spark AR platform, which will also see the addition of new AR creation courses to Coursera i edX.
And finally, Facebook is launching a new initiative, worth $ 150 million, “to train the next generation of creators to create impressive educational content.”
Such elements are key in AR innovation, as they expand the pool of creativity beyond Facebook’s own development teams, which will facilitate a far wider range of AR engagement and interaction options across all of its applications.
World and people AR
Facebook is also developing advanced AR capabilities, with body tracking to facilitate more impressive AR functions and “World AR” geo-anchored experiences.
Snap already has variations of both, with Facebook playing to keep up with these tools. But each will form a key part of AR glasses ’evolving experience, with digital flaps to be revealed through the frames, providing a range of new useful and fun options.
On the other front, Facebook is also working with BMW to develop AR features that could possibly help drivers navigate their environment.
The race for supremacy in AR will heat up in the coming months, and Facebook will be a key player and it will be interesting to see where it can take its AR glasses as it progresses beyond the initial Ray Ban Stories model.
Facebook’s more advanced AR and VR projects include real-time 3D reconstructions of people, providing realistic representations of themselves in a digital environment, and his ongoing work on bracelets that can detect nerve impulses and use them as a trigger for a digital response.
All of this will play a role in the next phase of the digital connection, and while it may still seem far away, these latest advances are coming and will be here before you know it.
The next level of digital connectivity will take place in the virtual realm, and as we have seen with the growing popularity of NFT and other digital projects, enthusiasm for that next phase is growing. And when you consider the amount of time young people now spend in Fortnite, Roblox and other virtual worlds in the midst of a pandemic, and how this will affect their interactive behavior, it’s not hard to see the next phase evolving within current capacity.
That will eventually change everything – and for marketing professionals, it will mean all the new opportunities for learning, adapting and developing within your approach.
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