Facebook has created an immersive AI environment App called Horizon to encourage people into spending more time in the world of VR. The new Facebook VR app will be a mixture of social places where users can mingle and chat, and other areas where they can play games against each other.
People will inhabit and explore the virtual spaces via a cartoon avatar. The app will be made available and tested in early 2020, by a small group of Facebook users.
Details regarding Facebook’s Horizon App and early footage of the virtual space were shown off at Facebook’s Oculus Connect 6 developer conference this week. Facebook recently stated that anyone using Horizon would be able to call on human “guides” to help them navigate and become more familiar with the virtual environment.
The guides will not be “moderators” who will police behaviour, said Facebook. It added that it would include tools that let people manage how they interact with other users. It will also have options that let people shape and build their own part of the environment. They will also be able to design their own avatars.
The complete AR environment has been given a cartoon-like feel as it is intended to be used on Facebook’s Oculus Quest headset, which does not have the high resolution graphics of PC-linked headsets. Sam Machkovech, a tech reporter for publication Ars Technica, who has tried Horizon, stated that Facebook had put “a ton of work” into the version he used, to make it as welcoming as possible.
However he stated that Horizon was “yet another” combination of apps, chat and avatars which Facebook had produced in just a few years. He suggested that it was still searching for a good combination that proved properly tempting to users. “We’re still waiting for Facebook to inspire confidence that it will launch a social-VR app and stick with it for more than two years,” he wrote.
User that are interested in joining Horizon can sign up to be an early beta tester.The whole creation of Horizon means Facebook will shut down its current VR hang-outs – Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms. Both will close late October 2019.
Facebook’s meteoric expansion of VR comes as Samsung cuts some support for the tech.Samsung also stated that it was dropping it’s support for Gear VR technology in its Galaxy Note 10 smartphone. The Note 10 nor the Note 10 Plus will be compatible with the Gear VR system.
Samsung’s phone-based VR uses a headset into which a smartphone slots, to produce the immersive experience. Industry experts suggest that interest in phone-based VR systems such as Gear VR will decline as standalone devices, like the Oculus Quest, thus will become more widely available.