Facebook Spaces is the social media company’s virtual reality (VR) application that allows users to interact in a virtual environment as if they were in the same room. Spaces uses personalized 3D avatars for friend interaction.
Facebook Spaces generates VR rooms for people to come together and share Facebook content with one another through VR headsets and controllers, almost like conversing with friends around a virtual coffee table as people would in physical reality.
Spaces uses simplified, cartoonish 3D characters (aka avatars) with a likeness to the user. The avatars for user interaction can be generated manually or from a user’s tagged photos. Spaces makes rooms for linked VR users to hang out together, have voice chats, share media and take VR video tours.
Users control Spaces by way of controllers like the Oculus Touch, engaging a central control table. Pictures, music and videos can be selected from pages on the table and played for all the users in a space to see and hear. New 360-degree video or 3D backgrounds (spaces) are selected as orbs from the table and, when placed, expand to fill the virtual world. Other actions include a virtual 3D sketching pen that allows users to sketch 3D objects and a camera for selfies. There are a limited number of actions in Spaces; Facebook says this is because the focus is more on interaction and sharing the experience with friends.
Facebook created Spaces because they saw the potential for social VR, which was reinforced with their acquisition of Oculus VR, well-known for their popular Oculus Rift VR headset, for $2 billion in March 2014. CEO Mark Zuckerburg claims that VR will be “the most social platform ever” as they seek to provide a personal, day-to-day VR experience. While Spaces is still in beta, Oculus Rift and Touch users can currently get early access while support for other VR headsets will be added at a later time.