May 07, 2021 10 mins, 12 secs
"What we saw was virtual reality is really about this sense of presence and therefore, it's about social connection, more than it's about whatever the technology is." .

"We want to get as many people as possible to be able to experience virtual reality and be able to jump into the metaverse and … to have these social experiences within that," he adds.

Facebook is getting closer to launching this world in the form of a large-scale social metaverse called Facebook Horizon that, with creative tools and user-created worlds, looks reminiscent of apps like AltspaceVR, Rec Room, and maybe even Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft.

If we're already there with the fidelity of experiences that are possible today, to me that just says, wow, in five years this is going to be clearly better on almost all of these fronts for a lot of the things that we do." .

At the same time, you're right that with the pandemic and more people shifting toward being more remote more of the time, that's just put even more importance on building technologies that give us a sense of presence, and that help us feel like we're together and really get to connect naturally, whether that's socially or professionally or for entertainment and playing games.

That's always been the promise of virtual and augmented reality.

Every other communication tool that we've built up to this point is trying to approximate that, but virtual and augmented reality are the first ones that really deliver that sense of presence.

When you're talking about virtual reality, in the sense of presence, there really is something that's incredibly important about it being wireless.

If you [have a] wire that's wrapped around your neck or draped over your shoulder and it's touching you, it really just breaks the whole illusion and sense of presence?

We have really exciting products in the road map for down the line that I just think are going to be really awesome.

Traditionally, if you wanted to get a virtual reality device that had more power, the thing that you did was you wired [it] into a PC or some other computer, that's one way to do it.

It's the ability to now stream games from your PC, so you can take advantage of the power of the PC and still have a wireless experience, which is really important.

I mean, it's one of the things that's been quite exciting with Quest 2 -- seeing it broadened out.

So you see apps like FitXR and Supernatural, which are basically subscription services where you can take different classes doing boxing or dancing or different things.

It's almost like Peloton?

It's just kind of as easy to jump into, and you're paying a subscription.

Now it's not coming out anytime soon, but that's certainly something that we're excited about and having different products that basically can serve different use cases really well.

That's one of my favorite things on Quest.

And I think it's pretty clear why people really like it. .

Do you set up a space in your home that's a dedicated VR zone where you do these things, and is there any time of day where you might do workouts with this.

All the things that we're going to focus on, including the future Quest Pro work that we're thinking about, that's just going to be a killer part of it.

Over the last year, especially during the pandemic, when I couldn't see a lot of these people in person, it was just really a neat thing to be able to do.

We've talked a bit about things like eye tracking and face tracking, and you're talking now about things like different health sensors, whether that's heart rate monitoring or the different other kinds of fitness sensors that you might have on a fitness watch.

And then the question for us is going to be, well, how do we innovate on what that's going to look like and be able to deliver something that's a high-end product? .

We want to get as many people as possible to be able to experience virtual reality and be able to jump into the metaverse and then be able to have these social experiences within that.

Yeah, this is a big project for us because there needs to be a social fabric that goes across all of the different layers of virtual reality.

And it also spans not just social use cases, it's not just gaming.

I think it's also going to be work and collaboration and productivity, and that's a big thing that we focused on.

I have to say, one of the things that I've been excited about as we start thinking about what the policies are going to be around how employees start returning to the offices, and after the pandemic clears up, one of the things that I hope is that, going forward at Facebook, in addition to doing videoconferences and stuff like that, I want to basically have our culture be that a lot of our employees are holding meetings in VR, in something like Horizon.

In the beginning, when we got started working on virtual reality, what we saw was virtual reality is really about this sense of presence, and therefore, it's about social connection more than it's about whatever the technology is?

I would expect that as these things get built out more, whether it's just use cases for hanging out and chatting, or playing different things together, or working together and collaborating, I would bet that those will be a lot of the biggest uses of this over the long term.

And I think it will play a big role toward helping to build out this broader metaverse that will go across all of virtual and augmented reality.

I certainly think that this is going to rethink what our perception of social experiences are.

And so, similarly, I think that what you're going to see with the metaverse and people interacting in virtual and augmented reality is it's probably at least as different if not more from all these 2D-type interfaces, even though there will be some similarities.

And the tools didn't exist yet to do this, but the ultimate thing that I really hoped to do one day was build out this kind of 3D immersive world where people can build different things.

I feel like now that's starting to become possible with all this technology.

So now, we're literally able to start building and imagining some of these experiences that are like the holy grail of social experiences, because you're going to be able to -- with AR glasses in the future, when we're having this conversation -- you'll be a hologram sitting on my couch next to me, rather than doing this over video or doing this over audio.

I do think the social experiences here are going to be different, but pretty awesome. .

And I think getting a chance to build that from the ground up, not within sort of a box or platform that's defined by other companies, who have their own sense of what a computer or a phone or something are, but really getting to design that whole experience from first principles around how people should be able to be present and connected with each other, is a lot of the most exciting work that we're doing.

I think about that excitement -- you bring up dreaming this as a kid, and we talked about using VR in the here and now, and what it's becoming for people.

My 13-year-old nephew was asking me to ask you about if you're going to be adding more things like that.

So I think it's probably quite a ways off that we'd really build something like this.

And different things like the weighting of the device are designed for people who have a certain amount of neck strength, for example.

Those are things that I think will have to be overcome before you design even just hardware that I think really makes sense for younger kids to be wearing for an extended period of time?

I think over the long term, education is certainly going to be one of the really promising verticals here.

There was actually an experiment that was run, comparing heart surgeons with training in 3D, so that they can see the heart and see some of the things that they were doing, compared to people who had just been in lectures and experienced it in a more theoretical way.

So giving people the ability to do things hands-on and to experience them I think is going to beat being lectured to or just reading a book a lot of times in the future.

But in a lot of ways, I think virtual reality is the ultimate, because it literally lets you embody someone and walk in their shoes, and experience some of what they're actually seeing and feeling around them.

So I think that's going to be pretty powerful for not just school-type learning, but culture and sharing each other's experiences, and getting more empathy for what other people are experiencing around the world as well.

I don't think this is ever going to be something that we here at Facebook just decide, here's how it should be for younger kids and therefore we're going to go do it.

This will be something that -- this is not the top priority or near priority anytime soon, there's a lot of other challenges that I think we need to solve to help expand virtual reality and help more people experience this -- but I do think you're highlighting what I think, you know, in kind of a 10- to 20-year future, I think people are going to want to use this in this way.

But for example, you can conceivably have a meeting that's hosted in virtual reality, where some people who aren't in virtual reality can videoconference in and be a part of the meeting, just like if you were in a physical meeting; you can have a screen, and people could be on that screen.

I think being able to make it so as many people who are not together can feel like they're present -- and I think virtual reality can be a big part of that -- that to me seems like a good direction for us to go in.

So if you're sitting in a room with someone, if you're on on my right, and we're sitting on a couch, we have a shared memory where it's like, all right, I remember that you were kind of sitting next to me, you're on my right on the couch, and if you're on my right, that means I'm on your left, so we kind of have a shared sense of what's going on in the space, and all of our different memories -- my visual memories of thinking of turning to my right and seeing you, my audio memory as I'm hearing the audio coming from the right -- that stuff all ends up being pretty important in terms of imprinting memories, and feeling like this is a real experience where you're present in a space together

I find that when I'm on a bunch of video calls, they all kind of blend together and I have a hard time remembering exactly which call something was said on, or it's just kind of harder to place it because there's no real sense of space

Even though the avatars aren't quite fully defined yet -- although we did just roll out a new avatar system, which is pretty good, and is certainly a big step in this direction -- even without that piece kind of fully being in its final state yet, I still think there are a lot of advantages to the presence that you get in virtual reality compared to the other modes of communication that we have

If we're already there with the fidelity of experiences that are possible today, to me that just says, wow, in five years this is going to be clearly better on almost all of these fronts for a lot of the things that we do


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