We’ve talked a lot about the metaverse lately, but how do we get there? We continue to invest heavily in developers and our developer ecosystem so that they can find success and build groundbreaking games—and we announced some exciting upcoming projects today, including the Rockstar Games classic Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in development for Quest 2.
The metaverse, though, is much larger than gaming. It’s a place for entertainment, yes—but also for work, for socializing, for education, for fitness, and so much more. Building the metaverse means building VR into a general computing platform, like your phone or laptop today.
We’re making progress on that front. Today at Connect 2021, we expanded on our vision of the metaverse—but more importantly, we showed off the steps we’re taking to make VR a more capable and versatile platform. Our next phase of VR releases includes a more social Home space, a new platform for your favorite internet apps, Quest for Business (which will be accessed via new Work Accounts) for those trying out virtual work, a fitness-centric accessories pack for all you Beat Saber Expert+ players, new tools so developers can build incredible mixed-reality experiences, and more. The metaverse may be a ways off, but we’re taking concrete steps now to make sure VR can accommodate a wide breadth of experiences.
You’ll find details about every major VR platform announcement at Connect 2021 below, and some of the tools we’re creating in the near-term. We hope you’ll join us in building VR into the computing platform of the future.
Make no mistake: VR is a social platform, and soon it’ll be easier than ever to get together with your friends. Turn on Quest 2 at the moment, and you’ll see your Home—maybe it’s a snowy mountain lodge, a city apartment, or even a room full of Myst artifacts. We’ve given you some options, but until now you were the only one to see it.
Horizon Home will change that. Launching soon as an update to the existing Home experience, this is our early vision for your Home in the metaverse—a social space where you can bring friends to hang out, watch videos together, or jump into POPULATION: ONEwith your squad.
And we want it to feel like your home, so in the future we’ll make it easier for anyone to build and customize their own space. Your corner of the metaverse should reflect you and your personality. That capability is a little further out, but we hope it gives you an idea of where we see VR heading.
Horizon Worlds, Horizon Workrooms, Horizon Home—the social experiences under the Horizon umbrella continue to expand. 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.
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 uses in one device.
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. We have a deep dive on Quest for Business and why we’re building it, but the key difference: 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 from the Oculus Store like Horizon Workrooms and Gravity Sketch without using your personal Facebook account details. Quest for Business will also enable companies to access dedicated platform functions that they need, like account management, mobile device management (MDM) solutions, SSO integration, 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’ll be winding down our existing Oculus for Business program later this year in preparation, as we plan to start offering Quest for Business in closed beta this year, expand to more beta participants in 2022, and fully launch to all businesses in 2023.
And if you’re going to work in the metaverse, you’re going to want to be comfortable. We’re introducing a new personal workspace environment in Horizon Home today, so you can trade out that snowy mountain lodge for something a bit more professional if you’re sitting down to get some work done. To find it, navigate to Settings, select “Virtual Environment,” install the “Studio” option, then apply the environment and jump in. We’re also making it possible to customize your surroundings in Horizon Workrooms as well. Later this year you’ll be able to choose from a wider variety of environments, which you can then customize with a custom logo and posters (motivational or otherwise).
We’re breaking down barriers between the general computing platforms of today and tomorrow. There are plenty of services you use on your phone and laptop every day, and you shouldn’t lose access to them when you put on your headset.
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. We love how immersive VR can be, but sometimes you just need to know what’s going on out in the world or quickly check something off your to-do list between gaming sessions. Now you can chat with work colleagues, access your files, update your social feeds, and simply get more done without having to remove your headset—or even leave your Home environment. Plus VR offers the opportunity for more space and flexibility than physical screens when using these services.
You’ll see the first apps in the Store today, including Facebook, Instagram, Smartsheet, and Spike. More apps will follow soon, like Dropbox, Monday.com, MURAL, My5 (UK), Pluto TV, and Slack. But this is just the start, and we’re hoping to make Home a more multifunctional hub for all your favorite services over time as more developers ship apps to the Store using the Progressive Web App industry standard.
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 that makes it easier to wipe everything down afterwards, so you can keep hitting your Oculus Move goals for years to come.
Change up your routine, while you’re at it. The acclaimed Supernatural added a boxing mode recently, and before the end of the year you’ll see 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.
We want it to be easier to communicate with friends outside of VR. Earlier this year we launched Messenger support in VR, letting you send a quick message to friends to let them know you’ll be late for your weekly Walkabout Mini Golf session—or to let someone know it’s time to stop playing Pistol Whip because dinner’s ready.
But why type when you can talk? Soon 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.
Building the metaverse necessitates experiences that feel more natural and authentic. This is a complicated challenge, but at Connect we announced Presence Platform—a suite of new capabilities that will enable developers to build more immersive mixed-reality experiences.
First up is Passthrough API. 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 physical 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 in the Oculus Store and on App Lab, and you’ll see new experiences soon from Unity Labs, Spatial, YouTube VR, and more. We’re really excited to see what developers make, and we’re already working on the technologies that will make these mixed-reality experiences even more incredible in the future—technologies like Spatial Anchors and Scene understanding capabilities that will help virtual objects seamlessly blend with your actual physical environment.
We’re also constantly rethinking how you interact with VR. Five years ago, that meant a gamepad. Next came Touch controllers, letting players use their “hands” in VR via a groundbreaking new control scheme. And then we added hand tracking to the Quest Platform, so you really could use your hands in VR.
Today we’re introducing 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. Voice SDK lets developers integrate your voice into games and apps, so you can hop into FitXR and say “Surprise me!” on days where any workout is the right workout. Like Passthrough API earlier this year, Interaction SDK and Voice SDK will be released as experimental capabilities for now, enabling developers to start building and testing prototypes. Stay tuned to the Oculus Developer Blog for updates, both on the initial rollout and future updates.
We expect to add more capabilities to Presence Platform over time as we build out the tools necessary to help create the metaverse.
Outside of Presence Platform, we're investing in new quality-of-life features and tools for developers so that they can continue to create groundbreaking experiences without sweating the small stuff.
Today we’re announcing Cloud Backup, a new (and much simpler) system that stores game progress and settings for participating games. If you replace your headset, restore it to factory settings, or even uninstall and then reinstall a game, Cloud Backup should come in handy. We’re hoping this improves the player’s experience, but we’ve also made it as easy as possible for developers. Apps are opted-in by default (though developers can control this setting). Cloud Backup will be available later this year.
We’re also making it easier for people to play games together and for developers to build active multiplayer communities. Earlier this year we gave developers the ability to add a new “Invite to App” button and Invite Links, helping players get into the action together without fussing over logistics. But we’ve got more capabilities coming before the end of the year! Soon we’ll open up our invite system so that developers—with minor tweaks to their existing multiplayer systems—can let players send invites without leaving the game itself. We’ll also be adding an “Ask to Join” section to the Quest interface so players can hop into a friend’s game. And for those who haven’t built out their VR friends list yet? We’re building new systems that make it easier to discover and friend other players.
Lastly, an update on Avatars. Earlier this year we began rolling out our new Avatars, starting with a handful of apps. We want to get them into the hands of more developers though, and we’re excited to announce that the new Avatars SDK will launch for Unity in December, with Unreal Engine 4 to follow.
For more developer updates, be sure to check out the Developer State of the Union session.
VR isn’t all fun and games. If you’ve ever traveled the world with Wander, explored Japan with Tokyo Origami, or admired the heavens in Titans of Space PLUS, then you know that VR can be a powerful tool for education as well.
But building these experiences takes time, effort, and—most importantly—talented people. That’s why we’re investing $150 million USD over three years to build an ecosystem that supports learning in the metaverse. Our focus will be training the next generation of AR/VR creators, transforming the way we learn through high-quality immersive experiences, and increasing access to education through technology. We’re working with game engine developer Unity to help people gain the skills necessary to create incredible AR and VR content, bundling Unity’s “Create with VR for Educators” tool and training with our Quest 2 devices for nonprofits and educational institutions.
We’re also partnering with a number of institutions to help bring their visions for immersive and collaborative learning experiences to life—VictoryXR and BYJU’S FutureSchool; nonprofits like Generation, Urban Arts Partnership, and the Peace Literacy Institute; and learning organizations, including a number of historically Black colleges and universities.
Finally, we’re building for the future. We’ve outlined our vision for the metaverse, but a lot of pieces need to be built before we get there. At Connect today we teased some of that work, including research Michael Abrash’s team is doing into photorealistic and stylized avatars and 3D reconstructions of real-world locations. Today’s VR meetings are a massive step up from video calls, but we want the future to feel almost indistinguishable from meeting in-person.
We also provided a sneak peek of our next-generation all-in-one VR hardware, Project Cambria, launching next year.
This isn’t a Quest 2 replacement, or a Quest 3. Project Cambria will be a high-end device at a higher price point, because it’s going to be 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—which includes Passthrough API, improved hand and voice interactions, and so on—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.
AR will be an important part of the future too. We’re building wrist-based EMG input technology that we believe will be key to controlling future devices—allowing you to make selections, type at full speed, and more with subtle, intuitive gestures. We’re also continuing to invest in Spark AR, expanding our curriculum to train creators on our tools, providing certification to help creators demonstrate their skills, and providing them with new capabilities—like the ability to build out “scavenger hunts” by linking real-world locations together, which we’re rolling out next year. You can catch up on more of today’s AR news over on Tech@.
A lot of work exists between where we’re at now and where we see the metaverse. We’re excited though, and we hope you’ll come with us on the journey—whether that’s at home with Quest 2, or even here at Meta helping us build everything we’ve unveiled today.
Thanks for joining us for another Connect, and stay tuned for more news here on the Oculus Blog in the near future.