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Meta adding personal boundary system to VR worlds

It's an effort to push back against harassment in virtual reality.

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Horizon Worlds has online games and user-created spaces.
Meta

Meta is adding personal boundaries to its Horizon virtual reality experiences in an attempt to push back against harassment in VR, the company said Friday.

The system, rolling out now for Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues, creates an invisible bubble of personal space around a user's avatar. This effectively puts what feels like about four feet of distance between that person and others and is designed to make it easier to avoid unwanted interactions, Meta said.

If someone tries to move too close, the system will halt that person's progress, Meta said. Previously, an avatar's hands would disappear if the avatar invaded someone else's personal space. Avatars will still be able to do things like give high fives and fist bumps, but unwanted touching should be much harder.

"We believe personal boundary is a powerful example of how VR has the potential to help people interact comfortably," Meta said in its blog post.

Harassment in virtual reality was around long before the company formerly known as Facebook opened Horizon Worlds, its virtual meeting space and gaming hub, to the public in December. Users of earlier Facebook VR experiences have reported harassment, including taunting, obscene gestures and racial slurs. 

Personal boundaries will be always on by default, Meta said Friday, adding that in the future the company may look at adding new user controls, like the ability for people to change the size of their boundary.