Remote collaboration has become customary in most offices since the Covid pandemic limited the ability to traveleven just to go to the office. In a short time, however, the vast majority of companies have adapted, in the simplest and most immediate way possible: meetings and communications moved to digital channels, especially through Zoom and Teams, which brought together – albeit only virtually – colleagues and partners.
Video communication apps have proven to be extremely effective in bringing people who are far away, but according to Facebook a lot more can be done using virtual reality and, in particular, the Oculus Quest 2 viewer has already released the beta version of Horizon work rooms, its new remote collaboration experience for business users.
Horizon Workrooms: Oculus Quest 2 becomes a tool for companies
Applications like Zoom, Teams, Cisco Webex, etc. shortened the distance, making remote meetings more lively, engaging and effective. It’s not like meeting in person, of course, but it’s a huge step up from a traditional phone call. According to Facebook, however, more can be done through technology and, in particular, virtual reality. To show the world its vision, the company launched (in open beta) Horizon Workrooms, a remote collaboration app that leverages the Oculus Quest 2 headset to bring attendees closer together and make meetings more engaging.
The concept is simple: if a video brings us closer to our interlocutors, even if they are on the other side of the world, an avatar can only be even more effective. Thanks to the viewer, in fact, it is possible to enter “literally” into a shared meeting room, with participants sitting around a desk, or moving around the room, instead of appearing as simple video windows. . Avatars that show emotions through their facial expressions and move realistically, also thanks to the support of thehand tracking.
They aren’t photorealistic, it is true, but they are more appealing than the streams captured by the often poor quality cameras built into portable devices. Spatial audio then makes it possible to immerse yourself even more in the atmosphere, by locating the origin of the sounds according to the disposition of the participants.
As this is a remote collaboration app, special attention has been paid to features like internal chats, link and document sharing, and there is no shortage of a shared virtual whiteboard. Once the meeting is over, whiteboards and notes taken by participants will not disappear, but will remain accessible even later.
Manual tracking or physical input device? The choice is in the hands of the user!
Being a remote collaboration application, Horizon work rooms allows users to fully immerse themselves in the virtual world, even abandoning physical devices. Do we want to take notes? Thanks to hand tracking, it will no longer be necessary to use a physical keyboard to write notes: just move your fingers on the desk to use a virtual keyboard, or take notes with “pen” on a virtual sheet. That won’t prevent those who prefer it from relying on physical input devices, alternating them with real ones without ever leaving the virtual room.
The best results are obtained by adopting keyboard tracking, like the Logitech K830: a this address, the (short) list of those currently supported.
Not just VR: even those who don’t have a viewer can participate
To fully immerse yourself in virtual meetings, you need an Oculus Quest 2 viewer, a device that is not that common, especially in the business environment. Facebook has understood that if it is to ensure the success of Horizon Workrooms cannot exclude those who are not equipped with virtual reality devices and have chosen to make the rooms accessible to all, via a simple video camera. In this case, remote participants without a VR device will be displayed on a virtual room screen, much like remote connections during conferences or business meetings.
The maximum number of participants for each virtual room is 50 people, corn only 16 simultaneously in VR: the others must participate by video call.