Facebook is bringing virtual reality to a whole new level.
Today, the platform launched Horizon Workrooms, a virtual-reality service that allows people to hold virtual work meetings as avatars.
The app is accessible as a free download to those who have Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2, a virtual reality headset.
Per Facebook, the Oculus Remote Desktop companion app for Macs and Windows allows users to bring their desktop into the virtual meeting with them.
“Working from VR doesn’t mean you have to leave your regular tools behind. Workrooms is a mixed reality experience, letting you bring your physical desk and compatible tracked keyboard into the virtual room with you, where you can see them sitting on the virtual meeting table in front of you,” the press release reads.
The rooms also have what Facebook refers to as “a virtual whiteboard as big as your ideas.” The whiteboard allows attendees to write out ideas together in real time. And, spatial audio technology allows attendees to hear noises around them just as they would if they were in the room in real life.
“Our new avatars, which we launched earlier this year, offer a huge variety of customization options and feel more expressive and natural, helping you feel like you’re really there with your colleagues,” the release reads. “The conversation sounds more lifelike too—with our high quality, low latency spatial audio, you’ll hear the people around you based on where they’re seated, just like they’d sound in a real room, making conversations flow smoothly.”
A VR workroom and real estate
In the world of real estate, where most agents have been away from their offices for over a year, an app like Facebook’s could offer a refreshing layer of engagement to the work day.
“Facebook’s digital work rooms provide a fun alternative for agents and employees who are simply Zoomed out. I think we are all suffering from a bit of that,” Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, told Inman. “However, I don’t think it will fully recreate the energy and momentum of an in-person, collaborative workspace. Given that we are not yet out of the woods with Covid, this does present another creative virtual option to keep workflow going.”
In addition to meeting with colleagues, agents can also use the app to stay connected with their clients.
“Workrooms will be another innovative and interesting way for real estate agents to connect with their buyers and sellers. It seems like a fun and stimulating way to conduct digital meetings rather than through Zoom or a similar medium. Many people are burnt out on Zoom meetings and this is a fun alternative,” Compass broker Michael J. Franco told Inman.
However, Nicole Beauchamp, an agent with Engels and Volkers, questions how often virtual-reality resources like Facebook’s new app will be used by professionals the real estate world.
“Virtual reality is coming to a point where it could help bridge those connections. It seems, to me, that this should be the moment in time when VR really takes off,” she said. “But I also wonder, to some degree, how generational differences are impacting our reactions to various components, and also, if the need for additional devices is still impeding [adoption of the technology].”