That focus on Oculus Rift is expanding today with the announcement that Facebook Spaces is launching in beta form. Facebooks Spaces is a separate VR app that allows you to interact with your friends “in a fun, interactive virtual environment as if you were in the same room.”
Similar to how you can create your own avatars on console platforms like the Xbox One, you’ll be able to create your own likeness to represent your virtual self. Facebook goes a step further by allowing you to choose an existing Facebook photo to jumpstart the process for your digital avatar. From there, you’ll be able to change things like your hairstyle, facial features and eye color.
However, the biggest barrier to sharing in the Facebook Spaces VR experience with friends is that all of you will need to have an Oculus Rift to participate. You may have hundreds of friends linked in on your account, but you could probably count the number of friends that have a Rift on one hand. And there’s no guarantee that you’d even want to partake in virtual interactions with that exclusive group of “friends”.
You’ll be able to invite friends to join you, where you’ll be able to draw using a virtual magic marker, share 360 videos, make video calls in Messenger, and even take VR selfies (which sounds quite silly when you think about it). Facebook goes on to explain that you have full control over the experience, with Social VR Head Rachel Franklin writing, “You have control of your experience, including the ability to pause at any time. Pausing moves you into a quiet space where you can take a break away from other people and activities.
“You can also choose to mute your friends or remove them from your space. Facebook Spaces is all about connecting with friends and family that you know and trust, and we’re committed to making VR a positive place for all.”
Facebook Spaces is launching first on the Oculus Rift, but it will eventually be spread out to other VR platforms; perhaps even the HTC Vive if we’re lucky.