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Connect 2021: Our vision for the metaverse

Today at Connect 2021, Mark Zuckerberg laid out our vision of the metaverse as the successor to the mobile internet — a set of interconnected digital spaces that lets you do things you can’t do in the physical world. Importantly, it’ll be characterized by social presence, the feeling that you’re right there with another person, no matter where in the world you happen to be. In keeping with that vision, he also announced a new brand for our company, Meta, to better reflect our focus moving forward. This is an exciting new chapter for the company, and we’re excited to help bring the metaverse to life.

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The metaverse is still a ways off, but parts of it are already here — and even more are on the horizon. During today’s keynote, we shared a look at what we’re building to improve virtual and augmented reality as we know them today and the steps we’re taking to help realize the full social potential of the metaverse in the future.

Horizon Home

We introduced Horizon Home, our early vision for a home base in the metaverse. This is the first thing you see when you put on your Quest headset. Until now, it’s just been called Home because the experience wasn’t social. Soon, you’ll be able to invite your friends to join you in Horizon Home, where you can hang out, watch videos, and jump into games and apps together.

Horizon Home is the latest addition to Horizon, our social platform to help people create and interact with each other in the metaverse. It joins Horizon Worlds, currently available in beta, and Horizon Workrooms, our flagship productivity solution. And now Venues is joining the party as Horizon Venues. Your all-access pass to concerts, sports, and more, Horizon Venues lets you enjoy the energy of live events from the comfort of home. NBA games are returning in early November, so stay tuned for more details.

Messenger calls in VR

Earlier this year we launched Messenger support in VR, letting you send a quick message to friends from inside the headset. But why type when you can talk? Later this year, we’re bringing Messenger audio calls to VR. You’ll be able to jump into an audio call with friends from any Messenger-enabled platform and eventually hang out or travel to VR destinations together.

Gaming

From AR chess with longtime friends to intense battles with new ones, gaming is certain to be as prevalent in the metaverse as it is today. During the Connect Keynote, we shared that Beat Saber recently surpassed $100 million USD in gross lifetime revenue on the Quest Platform alone — and teased some exciting new updates for the coming months.

We announced that the Rockstar Games classic Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is in development for Quest 2. Get a new perspective on Los Santos, San Fierro, and Las Venturas as you experience (again or for the first time) one of gaming’s most iconic open worlds. This is a project many years in the making, and we can’t wait to show you more of it.

We also announced a number of new games and updates, including a five-title partnership with Vertigo Games and new events for VR battle royale POPULATION: ONE. Check out the Oculus Blog for even more gaming news.

Fitness

Many of you are supplementing or even replacing your old gym routine with VR exercise these days, and we want to make your Quest 2 the best piece of gym equipment it can be. Next year we’ll launch a new set of accessories, the Active Pack for Quest 2. The Active Pack includes new grips for the Touch controllers that will help you stay in control while you sweat, and an exercise-optimized facial interface will make it easier to wipe everything down afterwards, so you can keep hitting your Oculus Move goals for years to come.

If you need some variety in your routine, don’t worry: There’s a lot coming before the end of the year, including the recently-added Boxing mode for Supernatural, a new FitXR fitness studio, and hand-tracked bodyweight exercises in Player 22 by Rezzil, which has helped train pro athletes across a number of different sports.

The future of work

The metaverse will eventually encompass work, entertainment, and everything in between. Like phones and laptops today, our platform needs to be flexible enough to accommodate all these different use cases.

Soon we’ll begin testing Quest for Business — a new suite of features designed for businesses, but which runs on the same consumer Quest 2 headset you can buy today. Quest for Business will let you log in to your Quest 2 headset with a Work Account, an upcoming business-only login that will allow you to collaborate with coworkers and access productivity apps like Horizon Workrooms and Gravity Sketch without using your personal Facebook account. Quest for Business will also enable access to dedicated platform functions that businesses need for work, like account management, IDP and SSO integration, third-party mobile device management, and more.

We’re taking great care developing Quest for Business to make sure we get it right, so stay tuned for more details in the future. We plan to start in limited beta this year, expand to more beta participants in 2022, and fully launch to all businesses in 2023.

We’re also making it easier to carry your work from your monitor to Quest 2 and back again. Today we announced that services like Slack, Dropbox, Facebook and Instagram, and many more will soon work in VR as 2D panel apps in Horizon Home, and you’ll be able to download them from the Quest Store. This new capability will let you chat with work colleagues, access your files, update your social feeds, and more without having to remove your headset.

Today we’re introducing a new personal workspace environment in Horizon Home, called Studio. And later this year we’ll add customizable rooms in Horizon Workrooms, giving you the ability to choose from a wide variety of different environments to get work done, and place your own company logos or team posters in your rooms. Click here to learn more.

Presence Platform

We announced Presence Platform, a suite of machine perception and AI capabilities — including Passthrough, Spatial Anchors, and Scene Understanding — that will let developers build more realistic mixed reality, interaction, and voice experiences that seamlessly blend virtual content with a user’s physical world.

As part of Presence Platform, we introduced Interaction SDK, which will make it easier for developers to add high-quality hand interactions to their apps by providing a library of common gestures. We’re also adding Voice SDK, for those times when your voice is the most intuitive input method.

We shipped Passthrough API to developers earlier this year, and developers have created some incredible experiments with it—truly groundbreaking experiences that blend virtual content with the real world. And now we want to get them into your hands as well. With our next SDK release, developers will be able to ship their mixed-reality apps on the Oculus Store and App Lab.

We’re really excited to see what developers make, and we’re already working on the technologies like Spatial Anchors and Scene Understanding Capabilities that will make these mixed-reality experiences even more seamless in the future.

Click here to learn more.

Project Cambria

We gave people a sneak peek at our next-generation all-in-one VR hardware, Project Cambria, launching next year. This won’t be a Quest 2 replacement, or a Quest 3. Project Cambria will be a high-end device at a higher price point, packed with all the latest advanced technologies, including improved social presence, color Passthrough, pancake optics, and a lot more. The experiences developers create with Presence Platform will really shine when the hardware leaps forward, and we’re designing Project Cambria for people who want to start testing out a new kind of computing on the cutting edge of what’s possible today. We’re excited to share more, so stay tuned.

Spark AR updates

With hundreds of thousands of Spark AR creators in the community today, AR continues to be a growing medium for expression and connection. In fact, more than 700 million people use their AR effects each month.

It’s creators and developers who will really build the metaverse and fill it with the content and experiences that will delight and inform. Mobile AR effects today offer a glimpse of what we’ll see in the future with AR glasses and how we’re working to bring this future within reach. We’re working on new tools that Spark AR creators can use to place digital objects in the physical world and let people interact with them, realistically, with depth and occlusion. We’re also testing the ability for creators and brands to connect multiple AR effects across different physical locations into cohesive AR storytelling experiences, like guided tours or scavenger hunts. And to make it so even more people can contribute AR content, we’ve created a new app, codenamed Polar, that makes AR creation possible for novice creators with no prior experience in art, design, or programming.

To help beginner and advanced creators alike improve their skills and make a living building AR effects using Spark AR, we’re expanding our professional curriculum and adding a certification process, making it easier to market their validated skills, and putting our Spark AR curriculum on Coursera and edX for broader access. Click here to learn more.

Educational investment

Beyond entertainment and social experiences, the metaverse stands to radically transform the way we learn as well. We’re already seeing this with educational content and immersive training in healthcare, the automotive industry, and more.

Building these experiences takes time, effort, and — most importantly — talented people. Today we announced a new $150 million USD initiative to train the next generation of creators building immersive educational content. And we’re working with game engine developer Unity to help people gain the skills they need to create incredible AR and VR content.

We’re also partnering with a number of institutions to help bring to life their visions for immersive and collaborative learning experiences — VictoryXR and Byjus FutureSchool; nonprofits like Generation, Urban Arts Partnership, and the Peace Literacy Institute; and learning organizations, including a number of historically Black colleges and universities.

The future

A lot of pieces need to be built before we get to the metaverse proper. At Connect today, we reviewed some of that work. In September, we released Ray-Ban Stories in partnership with EssilorLuxottica. The first stylish, all-day wearable smart glasses that let you capture, share, and listen without breaking your flow, Ray-Ban Stories have demonstrated what’s possible when you’re able to stay present in the world around you. As we look ahead toward AR glasses with an always-available assistant, research Michael Abrash’s team is doing offers a glimpse of challenges there.

We looked at our research into photorealistic avatars and real-time, 3D reconstructions of real-world locations, which offer the current state of the art for VR. And we talked about some of the technology that will be needed to enable people to do things in the metaverse.

We showed — for the first time — how wrist-based electromyography (EMG) input technology that we believe will be key to controlling future devices — could one day allow you to send a message in AR with your hand resting comfortably at your side.

We also showed our progress on AI that understands your context and can give you a simple set of choices based on that context. We demoed a series of assistant-related smart home experiences enabled by Project Aria.

These experiences are proofs of concept for the types of interactions AR glasses will one day bring to us. Our first fully-fledged AR glasses — Project Nazare — are still a few years out, but we’re excited by the progress we’ve made and look forward to the road ahead.

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