How Facebook Spaces Enables Social Interaction in Virtual Environments

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How Facebook Spaces Enables Social Interaction in Virtual Environments

Facebook is beta testing a new service called Facebook Spaces designed to enable people to interact socially in a completely virtual environment. Facebook Spaces, which was announced April 18 at the company's F8 developers' conference in San Jose, Calif., works with the company’s Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch devices. It's one part video game one part real-world activity. Facebook Spaces lets users act as themselves in the virtual environment, share memories from the social network with other users and take virtual memories that can be shared back on the real-world Facebook. Facebook Spaces is an ambitious effort by Facebook to not only to sell more Oculus hardware, but also create a virtual beachhead where people can collectively experience a virtual world.

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It All Starts With Oculus

The only way to experience the full Facebook Spaces experience is with Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch VR devices. Users download the Spaces application from Oculus Store, then sign in to their Facebook accounts and turn on Spaces to explore their social network in a virtual world. Other VR headsets don’t work with Spaces, at least for now.

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What to Know About Profile Creation

The Profile creation procedure for Spaces is involved. Users first must choose a photo they want to use as the “face” for their virtual avatar. Then they can add custom features to create the look they want in the virtual world. After that, it’s time to interact.

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Users Interact With Their Social Network

Facebook Spaces is designed for interaction between users in their social networks. Users connected through the real-world Facebook can also interact in Spaces if they’re also Spaces users. Ultimately, Facebook Spaces could create groups of users who make up and interact in a massive virtual world.

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Spaces Is Designed to Stimulate Creativity

Facebook said it wants to make Spaces fun. To that end, users in Spaces can create different 3D effects and drawings that can be shared with other users and those in the real world. Facebook envisions users creating personally drawn emojis and even games such as Tic-Tac-Toe.

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It Provides a New Way to ‘Relive Memories’

Facebook Spaces will come with features the company said will let users “relive memories.” For instance, two friends can relive the time they went to Paris by calling up those photos or videos from their profiles and looking at them through Spaces.

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There Is a Business Opportunity With Facebook Pages

Facebook Spaces also will enable users to interact with business Facebook Pages. Exactly how this works and what businesses need to do to take advantage of this capability isn’t quite clear. But Spaces could provide a new means for businesses to interact with the social network’s users.

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Spaces Integrates With Facebook Messenger

Although Facebook Spaces is designed for Oculus devices, users can share content to those without the virtual hardware through Messenger. Those Messenger users will be able to get a “window” into the virtual world, but not interact in the same way as they could with an Oculus.

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Yes, a Virtual Selfie Stick

This virtual world also includes a virtual selfie stick. Users can take selfies of their virtual avatars, add drawings and other content to their faces and share them with others whether they are using Spaces or not.

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Controlling the User Experience

Facebook is instituting controls on Spaces to give users some peace of mind. Specifically, users will be able to pause from the virtual action and retreat to a private room where others can’t contact them. It also will be possible to mute friends or remove them entirely.

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Spaces Is a Work in Progress

Facebook Spaces is available now in the Oculus Store, but the app is only a beta version for testing and evaluation. Facebook emphasized that Spaces is a work in progress and will change over time. Facebook also promised to listen to user feedback.

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