Facebook's Weird VR 'Spaces' Experiment is Now Ready for Launch

Yesterday (19th of April), Facebook trotted onto the stage of their F8 conference and let the world know what they've been up to. Included in the presentations were a computer that lets you type with nothing but your brain, 360° video that knows where you're going to look, and hardware that lets you hear though your skin.

All these things are still very much in the developmental phase, however, and we probably won't be seeing any of them for months or years yet. Meanwhile, something which was showcased late last year is ready for the public - Facebook Spaces.

Spaces is a kind of VR chatroom that purports to allow users to interact in VR in the same way they would in real life. You can watch videos, play games, draw and interact in a number of other different ways, provided you're availed of an Oculus Rift and Touch. During the F8 conference, it was announced that the service is now in open beta.

At the Oculus Connect conference last year, Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated how the technology could allow you to jump into chatrooms with people, edit the background, take 'mixed reality' selfies and even jack in using Messenger. The version of Spaces which is now available is virtually identical to the one Zuckerberg showed off in October.

Once thrown into Spaces, you find yourself in control of an avatar - a floating torso with a vague approximation of your own face and customisable clothing. From the landing area, you can use a panel on your wrist and a console just in front of you to call up games, doodle images or search the web for photos and videos to pull into this virtual world.

Anything you doodle takes on physical form, so if you wanted to draw a big stick to swing around, or a ball to hurl, you can. You can also fiddle with the surroundings, either picking from a list of pre-rendered ones or pulling a 360° photo from your Facebook. That's the real kicker, you have full access to all your Facebook content, to do with what you please.

Your avatar also sports a range of different facial cues, which can be activated with various different hand motions. For example, placing your hands over your eyes will make your avatar act scared. In a cute way, mind. This is the biggest leap forward Facebook have taken in VR yet, and it will definitely interesting to see how the public at large react to it. The ones lucky enough to own an Oculus, that is.

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