Horizon Workrooms (Product Review)

My summary of Horizon Workrooms before using it? – I won’t be able to use Horizon Workrooms as I believe this is a virtual meeting room product that I can only access through an Oculus wearable device.

How does Horizon Workrooms explain itself in the first minute? – “Remote collaboration reimagined” reads the headline on the blog page where the open beta of Horizon Workrooms was announced. Meta (Facebook) introduces Workrooms as “our flagship collaboration experience that lets people come together to work in the same virtual room, regardless of physical distance.”

Image Credit: https://www.oculus.com/blog/workrooms/

How does Horizon Workrooms work?

  • Avatars and spatial audio – Users can create and customise their avatars in a such way that the avatar feel as natural as possible. Applying spatial audio, the conversation should sounds more lifelike too. Oculus promises high quality, low latency spatial audio, through which users can hear the people around them based on where they’re seated.
  • Mixed reality – Horizon Workrooms is a mixed reality experience which means that you can still use your physical desk and keyboard in your virtual reality workroom. If you use the Oculus Remote Desktop companion app for Mac and Windows. Through this companion app, users will have one-click access to your entire computer from VR, pairing an Oculus headset to stream what’s on the computer into VR.

Image Credit: https://www.oculus.com/blog/new-day-new-you-avatars-are-more-expressive-and-customizable-starting-today/

  • Virtual whiteboard – Every room in Workrooms offers infinite whiteboard space so that people can collaborate or sketch things out together in real time. Users pin images from your computer on the whiteboard and then mark them up and review with colleagues.

Image Credit: https://www.oculus.com/workrooms/features/

  • Room configurability – I like the idea of being able to configure a virtual room to suit your needs. Think about using your room for a presentation, collaboration or just a conversation. Workrooms offers a seating layout for every gathering occasion, with the room scaling up and down depending on how many people are in the room.

Image credit: https://vr-expert.com/a-new-era-of-work-facebook-horizon-workrooms/

  • Join in VR or by video call: If users don’t have a VR headset, they can also dial into a virtual room by video call. Video participants will show up on a video screen in the virtual room, just like a real conference room. Horizon Workrooms supports up to 16 people in VR together, and up to 50 people total on a call, including video participants.
  • Meeting notes, file sharing, calendar integration, and chat: The Workrooms web app makes it easier to collaborate whether you’re in VR or at your computer. Every room in Workrooms comes with a place on the web to capture notes and action items while you’re in a meeting, share links and files, and chat with your team. You can also sync your Outlook or Google Calendar to make it easier to schedule meetings and send invites.

Image credit: https://hothardware.com/news/facebook-oculus-horizon-workrooms-vr-meetings

Main learning point: My first impressions of Horizon Workrooms deliver on my expectations. I can see how how we can use virtual meeting rooms to collaborate effectively, but the success of products like Horizon will depend on the sales of the required hardware.

In the absence of mainstream adoption of VR devices like Oculus, the ability to join a virtual room via video call will help the adoption of this new way of collaborating.

Related links for further learning:

  1. https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/2514011888645651/
  2. https://about.fb.com/news/2021/08/introducing-horizon-workrooms-remote-collaboration-reimagined/
  3. https://hothardware.com/news/facebook-oculus-horizon-workrooms-vr-meetings
  4. http://consc.net/reality/
  5. https://support.oculus.com/articles/horizon/connect-and-collaborate-in-horizon-workrooms/index-collaborate-in-workrooms/
  6. https://www.reviewgeek.com/95372/trying-facebooks-vr-horizon-workspace-felt-like-the-future-no-one-will-embrace/
  7. https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/virtual-mark-zuckerberg-showed-me-facebooks-new-vr-workplace-solution/

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