VR technology can be considered as an attempt to put people at the center of computing experience and to close virtual distance. With more immersion, UI, fewer controllers and wires out of the way, and more natural and realistic avatars VR have completely changed the digital world.
Various companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are now investing in developing both hardware and software that revolves around VR and Facebook is no different.
A good social experience isn’t only when you just get to chat or video call online, it’s also when you feel like you have the ability to define the space around you – Facebook Horizon gives you that ability!
To have a perfect experience though, a good internet connection is important just like the one that you can get with Windstream Internet Service, which brings internet speed of up to 100 Mbps with no contract issues or data cap. Plus, you can choose from a number of plans.
WHAT IS HORIZON?
Horizon is Facebook’s most recent attempt in encouraging social networking through VR. Horizon will let you create a world of your own with the help of the previously launched VR gadgets by Oculus. You can have your avatar and do fun activities alone or with friends you make from around the world.
HOW CAN I ACCESS HORIZON?
You can access Horizon as an app on the Oculus VR headset. Since it’s still in the test version, it is accessible to a few people who can access it with their Facebook profiles.
Before we jump into more details, let’s understand its hardware components:
Oculus VR is the brainchild of the social media giant that specializes in making hardware for Virtual Reality apps and software. Oculus headsets required for Horizon are the product of this very company. The headsets were released in 2016 and have become very popular among consumers. Its main products consist of Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Go, and compatible apps and games.
In 2016 September at OC6, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new software update as well called Oculus Link that would allow you to access cross-platform content. Meaning, that if you have a gaming PC, a USBC port and a Quest, then with Oculus Link you would be able to access all the Rift content on your Quest.
- Oculus Quest – it is a completely wireless VR headset that doesn’t need to be connected to your PC or phone in order to work. IT doesn’t require any external sensors either; the sensors are already inside the headset. It has a build-in-audio system that delivers 3D sound so you don’t have to wear headphones. It comes with two torch controllers that help you in the games that require you to use both hands. Beat Saber especially is one of its most popular games. The sensors utilize data from the gyroscope and accelerometer every millisecond to build a 3D map of the playspace. Oculus is capable of scanning your entire home including your walls and ceilings to give you a correct representation of your place.
- Oculus Rift S – Similar to Quest, Oculus Rift was also designed to give users an uninterrupted VR experience, where they naturally get to interact with 3D environments. Rift is an older brother of the Quest, and hence it was not completely wireless. It had to be connected to the PC via Windows. Since it requires Windows, Rift is sold with Xbox One wireless gamepads. The Rift headgear has a resolution of 1080 × 1200 and an OLED eye panel that refreshes at 90 Hz. The headset consists of a USB port that enables you to connect a headset or controller when needed.
At the September 2019 OC6, Mark also announced the hand tracking update on Quest! It uses deep learning and Quest’s onboard cameras to determine the position of your hands and then translates this into VR.
In general, it is obvious that Facebook’s Oculus has to face some barriers in terms of cost and content. Price is the biggest barrier in consumer adoption, and to those who can afford the device, they are mostly not impressed by the content because gamers don’t expect anything less than Xbox and PS4 level content.
As the world is progressing in technology, people are finding social communities in VR more interesting. They are inclined towards virtual concerts and world-building, even if it’s not something competitive like a game – just like in Fortnite. In future social media might become virtual spaces, especially for a younger audience to socialize online in VR. Hence, Facebook could really benefit by integrating more social and community-driven features into VR experiences.
BACK TO HORIZON…
Now that we have understood about its components, let’s dig deep into Horizon. Do you remember an old Facebook game that you used to love playing – Farmville? Ever wondered what it’s like if you were actually in the game and experiencing everything in VR? Well, Horizon is a lot similar and better. It is like a first-person Sims, with VR features and more interactivity.
Your avatars start in a town square and you have to choose what to wear, luckily you only have to decide the shirt because the avatars have no legs to wear pants. You can be whoever you want to be, and however, you want to be. There are no restrictions, no social boundaries; it is a free environment where no one will judge.
The Horizon World Builder will allow you to create anything you can imagine, be it a vacation spot that you have been meaning to visit or a gaming arena to hang out with your friends within VR and that too without the need to know how to code or any external software download or hardware. In Horizon, you do what you imagine, you can design a tropical beach, hang out with your friends or even create sculptures, paint, build a castle for yourself or a custom T-shirt for your avatar- all of this is possible because of Oculus Medium sculpting feature.
If you ever get stuck or feel lost, you can get help from the Horizon locals who are wandering around the landscape ready to guide you anytime. Don’t worry about not getting enough personal space; in Horizon you can define your own personal space boundaries so no one will disturb you in it. As a social interactive VR space, this was a very smart thing on Facebook’s part. The conventional muting, blocking and reporting tools will all be available, just like they are in Facebook itself.
Horizon is built to be an inclusive and welcoming community; you can get to know and interact with the avatars of people from all around the world. The avatars are very expressive and diverse so you can match them exactly with your actual personality. It is a step-up in building a social infrastructure that will be very important in the near future. Hanging out with friends, sharing ideas, joining groups, creating events; basically, everything that you are able to do online and more, but with a touch of VR, and that makes all the difference.
Horizon is you living in your Facebook account. From a business perspective, it is a great approach and it is not unimaginable that Horizon would have billboards showing ads of brands just like we see on Facebook. Plus, it will also have Facebook run-up shops from where you can buy things for your avatar’s home, clothes and whatnot. This can be a great way to earn money through ads in your VR world. The malls could be full of big brands like Nike etc. It is not possible to not talk about e-sports and gaming communities when we are talking about VR. Since Horizon is all about VR, chances of gaming communities and e-sports integration in the VR world of Horizon are quite high.
The bigger the launch the more chances for Horizon to get brand advertising and sponsorship opportunities that might lead to new virtual ad formats and new ways of brand integration in VR. The challenge at hand is to get the maximum number of users for Horizon. Facebook has been around for almost 15 years, most of the millennials don’t even prefer Facebook anymore because they feel there is nothing happening or exciting to it and some of its apps are for people of their parent’s age. VR is something that would attract the young generation because they want something new and different. This target audience is looking for new ways of socializing and feeling part of the community of people of similar age. It is a very smart move before Facebook becomes obsolete.
SUMMING IT UP!
It is pretty amazing how far technology has come, from Oculus Rift to Quest to hand-tracking on Quest and now Facebook Horizon. It’s very exciting to see how people are going to react to the new form of Facebook and it will be interesting to see how people and brands will unleash their creativity on this platform. The beta version is ready for sign-ups as a starter, but there is still time for the main course to be served.