Speaker 1: I just had a meeting with mark Zuckerberg. We talked about the future of work. I took notes on my laptop with my ghost hands that's because we were meeting in VR with Facebook's new workspace called horizon workrooms horizon work rooms is a VR app. And to use it, you need an Oculus quest two headset. This is Facebook's VR headset. That's been out since last fall. The idea [00:00:30] is that you put this on and then all of a sudden you're in some sort of a workspace with a whole bunch of other people moving around and talking and sitting at your desks. There have been other VR apps like, like this spatial has something like this that I've tried in the past year or so, where you get to meet with people and you get to walk around virtual things. Microsoft has a new tool called Microsoft mesh.
Speaker 1: That's looking to do a similar thing with holographic avatars and AR and VR, but where Facebook's horizon workrooms gets a lot weirder and [00:01:00] more interesting is that it takes your computer with you and your desk. So when I did the demo, I had to scan my desk as part of the experience. Oculus actually had this tool built into the quest too, to bring your desk and even some keyboards into VR to type and work on that screen that you're wearing on your face. Now, work rooms also pulls off another trick. It casts your computer screen into the VR experience and what it feels [00:01:30] like is it displays a hovering screen in front of your desk. Kind of like a disembodied monitor between that and my keyboard, which I could see floating in front of me. I felt like I had a computer that I could work on.
Speaker 1: I was working in slack. I was doing Google doc stuff while I was attending the meeting, which was crazy. That's the thing about VR right now is you put on the headset and then you're trapped in this world where you can't get back to your other devices. If you're diving into this virtual universe, why can't you take your [00:02:00] other tech tools with you? The other thing you can do in horizon we're work rooms is draw on a whiteboard. There's a really clever trick where your controller can flip around and become a marker in the world. So if I write on my actual desk, it turns into a drawing that I can then post onto the whiteboard. And even the table that you're sitting at can change configurations will. We were all sitting at this multifaceted circular table that looked like we were all together, but [00:02:30] I could feel my own desk surface that can reconfigure into a different type of conference room table, or even row like a classroom where suddenly we were all looking at a whiteboard and then we went back again. But it's pretty much a seated experience. Facebook starting with laptops, and it's a beta app. So things were a little weird, like Marcus Zuckerberg dropped in to talk to me and a bunch of other reporters in that room. The idea is like
Speaker 2: You go in wherever you are, you can have your perfect setup. You can have all the, all your, your different monitors. [00:03:00] Um, you know, people can, can stop in and, and collaborate quickly, but it's, it's really great for kind of focused work. Um, and that will get better over time. The second areas around collaboration, which is really what this is focused on, which is, you know, the, the notion that like we shouldn't really have to have to physically be together to, to feel present or call elaborate or brainstorm.
Speaker 1: Sometimes my hands didn't always move the way I wanted them to there's hand tracking, which happens via the Oculus quest two front cameras. So you can move your hands [00:03:30] around point at people or wave. Sometimes that drops out or it gets a little jittery. It might look like I was raising my hand when I wasn't. And they then finally, there's the fact that you're a cartoon avatar now that's because when you're working in VR, there's no camera. That's looking at what you really are looking like in the real world. Now in a whole world full of zooms and Hangouts and FaceTimes, we're used to seeing ourselves flat and our actual faces, VR flips that so that [00:04:00] you're able to move around, but you lose your actual face. Eventually Facebook wants to develop super realistic avatars that approximate our real world selves, or maybe at some point, AR glasses can find a way to scan us with cameras and show that part too.
Speaker 1: But that's why when you look at what I'm doing in this work app, it looks cartoonish, cuz it's the best thing that can happen right now. What you gain in that sense that I can look around at the table. I lose that sense of, Hey, [00:04:30] that reporter. I know what's he really looking at or mark Zuckerberg? Is that him? I believe it's him. Sounds like him. Actually. Mark Zuckerberg also appeared on a video, a chat beforehand and men beamed in as the avatar. Now what's particularly interesting about horizon. Workroom is this is something that Facebook's been using for the last six months or so. When I got to talk to mark Zuckerberg earlier this year, he had mentioned that people at Facebook were dog fooding are using this type of VR work app to [00:05:00] see how it function. This is that app and the pitch is that it's something that's more creative and more like being in an office than just zooming.
Speaker 1: So not something that you use all the time, but something that you might use, if you feel like you wanna get together with the team and chat a bit. Now I've used VR theater apps and other types of experiences that have put me are with people. And it does have a kind of a transporting presence type thing. It makes me feel a little more relaxed than a zoom plus [00:05:30] I can wear whatever I want. I mean, I was wearing cargo shorts and a crappy New York jet shirt. And nobody knew, I mean, that's kind of thing you can get away with in VR because there are no cameras looking at you. I wouldn't really want to do you that all the time, but it points out a kind of comfort. I don't feel like I'm being seen. I feel like I can be heard and I can still have some presence.
Speaker 1: That's a little bit different than what zoom is. Like. It's not quite the same fatigue, but I felt a different fatigue, which was just having this headset on all the time. So where does this all go from here? [00:06:00] Facebook has had great ambitions, not just in VR and AR, but in this idea of the, metaverse trying to build some sort of social glue between all of your devices so that you can work in and out of VR and in and out of maybe their future AR glasses that put your holograms and other things into the real world that stuff's not all fully here yet, but Facebook is trying to build other tools similar to horizon workrooms. In fact, they have this whole other app called Facebook horizon. [00:06:30] That's a creative tool for building your own worlds with these same types of avatars that hasn't launched yet, but it looks like work rooms is one piece of that puzzle.
Speaker 1: I also asked mark Zuckerberg about what about other devices? Things like phones. Could you take your phone out and work on it in VR? Which seems like it would be incredibly useful, not yet, but eventually as you can imagine, these devices are gonna get smaller. More like my glasses. I think that's the goal, but the ecosystem battle is huge. You've [00:07:00] got a lot of companies playing in the space and they all want a piece of this puzzle and a part of your homework environment, what apps will work, which ones will feel comfortable and what ones will companies gravitate to. We don't know. So Facebook's pioneering something. That's very interesting, but it's very early days. There are a lot of different work tools in VR. And after an hour, my eyes felt pretty tired. I needed a break and I do a lot of VR. So obviously there's a real limit to how much you actually wanna spend doing this, but Facebook's [00:07:30] also working on bringing other people into it, who aren't wearing VR headsets work rooms works with people who are doing video chat on computers and phones.
Speaker 1: You could send an invite link and have them hop in. We actually saw a screen where people were talking in one of those little zoom like grids while we were all appearing as avatars. It's one smaller step to where this future of virtual work might go. And I've been working at home for a year and a half plus I wouldn't wanna do all my VR, but the [00:08:00] ability to bring my laptop in a VR really changed the experience. And I hope that there are more tools that allow you to do that to a lot of devices to work together, cuz VR can't just be on an island and Facebook's metaverse needs a lot of hook and help from other partners too.
Speaker 2: You know, I think video conferencing has gotten, has taken us pretty far, but I, um, but I, I don't know. I mean, I can, I can just tell you that when as we start, you know, planning to go back into the office, um, you know, I I'm, I'm not super excited about, about [00:08:30] just continuing to have just this, um, you know, have most video, most meetings be over video. Um, uh, and what we're trying to move towards is a world where, uh, a lot of what we do is, is in here and the people who can't be in here can, can be on video so you people can feel present that way. If they're, if, if people aren't together in person physically. So we're, we're focused on this, we think it's gonna be a big use case for VR.