Selfies in VR: Facebook Reveals Social VR Prototype


Facebook today revealed an early prototype of a social VR space during their F8 developer conference, presented on-stage live by Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer and by Social VR product manager Michael Booth some 30 miles away.

Like all online social VR applications, Schoepfer and Booth entered Facebook’s environment using a pair of VR headsets, of course in this case the Oculus Rift and Touch hand controllers. Showing off the interactive space together, despite the distance between them, the two toured through 360 photos—presented as bowling ball-sized spheres that grew into the world around them—drew drawings and even took a virtual selfie to upload directly to the Facebook News Feed.

selfie facebook social vr

Booth writes in his Facebook post that touring London virtually was “almost as good as being there.” Booth continues:

“This is just the beginning of our exploration into how people can connect and share using today’s VR technology. There’s a lot more work to do and many more challenges to solve—such as how to better model ourselves within VR, so we can elevate ‘presence’ from a disembodied head and hands to a more expressive model of a person. Our engineering and research teams are also working to improve the tracking, optics, and audio technologies that make VR feel so real. There’s much more to come as my team and Daniel James’ team continue to push forward, working closely alongside Oculus and other teams at Facebook, as VR evolves into an increasingly important computing platform.”

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Many of the conventions we see in the newly revealed social space aren’t exactly ground shaking—complete with your standard floating heads and armless hands—but the fact that Facebook is throwing their weight behind it directly instead of letting Oculus develop could mean tighter integration into Facebook’s traditional platform.

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And while we don’t claim to be Kremlinologists, the company’s prototype shows a modified head model asset that appears to be taken from Oculus’ Toybox demo, a crazy sandbox prototype built to show off the Oculus Touch controllers in action. Though it may appear that the new social VR prototype is based on Toybox, anyone who’s played it before will probably tell you that it’s one of the coolest social VR experiences, with much more interactivity than what we saw from Facebook today.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Zobeid

    From this small clip, I’d conclude that they’ve got a long haul to catch up with. . . High Fidelity. . . and Project Sansar. . .

    I know some people will say FB has all the money and name recognition in the world, and therefore will easily dominate social VR. Based on past experience, it just doesn’t work that way.

    • DiGiCT Ltd

      Yeah, some things are just as they are and should stay 2d, same for just porting 2d into VR will also not work most of times.

  • Ian Shook

    Well this is dumb. A selfie (dumb) of two floating virtual avatars (dumb) with a backdrop of a static 360 photo (dumb) and nobody is better off because of it. How about a realistic 3D cafe with a place to chit chat? Or a roller coaster with a friend? or jenga in a living room? or playroom where we can race RC cars together? Static Stero photoshospheres are not VR. Those are like the dairy-free cheese of VR.

    • Bryan Ischo

      100% this.

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        also 100% dislike it, what an idea lol.

    • philb

      Before you get upset they may be leaving this open to 3rd party apps. In the future you may be able to import you own 3rd party 3D rendered head. Already I know of stand alone application that will reshape an .obj head and texture map it with user image. Not always perfect but works most times.

      • brandon9271

        and that doesn’t sound creepy.. lol :)

    • Hopeful

      Some of what you suggested already exists, search for “Altspacevr”

      Allows to play tabletop games (D&D already available), watch movies and youtube clips in the same room, different backgrounds etc.

  • victor

    The VR selfie part is just plain creepie!

  • Rlee

    heh, this is the dumbest thing I’ve seen yet. Facebook will ruin VR.

  • V.B.

    Sansar will probably be cooler & more fun!!!! :))