Mark Zuckerberg has laid out his vision to transform Facebook from a social media network into a “metaverse company” in the next five years.
A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.
The Facebook CEO described it as “an embodied internet where instead of just viewing content – you are in it”.
He told The Verge people shouldn’t live through “small, glowing rectangles”.
“That’s not really how people are made to interact,” he said, speaking of reliance on mobile phones.
“A lot of the meetings that we have today, you’re looking at a grid of faces on a screen. That’s not how we process things either.”
One application of the metaverse he gave was being able to jump virtually into a 3D concert after initially watching on a mobile phone screen.
“You feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness,” he said.
Facebook is also working on an “infinite office” that lets users create their ideal workplace through VR.
“In the future, instead of just doing this over a phone call, you’ll be able to sit as a hologram on my couch, or I’ll be able to sit as a hologram on your couch, and it’ll actually feel like we’re in the same place, even if we’re in different states or hundreds of miles apart,” he said. “I think that is really powerful.”
Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality, spending $2bn (£1.46bn) on acquiring Oculus, which develops its VR products.
In 2019, it launched Facebook Horizon – an invitation-only immersive environment where users can mingle and chat in a virtual space with a cartoon avatar through Oculus headsets.
Zuckerberg admitted current VR headsets were “a bit clunky” and needed improving for people to work in them all day.
But he argued that Facebook’s metaverse would be “accessible across… different computing platforms” including VR, AR (augmented reality), PC, mobile devices and games consoles.
The concept of a metaverse is popular with tech companies who believe it could be a new 3D internet, connecting digital worlds where people hang out in virtual reality.
Its origins come from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where it served as a virtual-reality-based successor to the internet.
Tech firms have tried to implement metaverse elements in popular games including Animal Crossing, Fortnite and Roblox.
This includes planning live events such as concerts and tournaments where millions of players can interact from around the globe. BBC.