Facebook teases new AR and VR tools to ‘supercharge’ remote work

If, like us, you’ve been spending more time online since the beginning of our national lockdown, you’ve likely explored or have ventured into fully remote work throughout the crisis – and since tailoring several of its products towards isolated living (such as Messenger Rooms), Facebook now appears to be shifting towards developing technologies that could assist remote work.

Facebook’s head of AR and VR, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, has revealed some of Facebook’s internal prototypes in a new tweet, which aims to ‘supercharge’ remote working capabilities during this time.

The concept, though naturally unrefined, shows an interesting demonstration of a remote work scenario where an employee would be able to manipulate virtual windows with their hands using gestures found on smartphones such as pinch, drag, and zoom.

In a new blog post,  a Facebook representative opined that “In the future, we could create a super-powered augmented workspace with multiple customizable screens in VR, unbounded from the limits of ​physical monitors. It would leverage technologies like Passthrough to create a mixed reality productivity experience that allows people to switch between real and virtual worlds at any time, improving spatial awareness while offering the flexibility we’re accustomed to with laptops and other common devices… By combining the flexibility of new inputs like hand tracking with the familiarity of everyday input devices like a keyboard and mouse, we could give people the best of both worlds.”

Passthrough is a key technology aboard Facebook’s Oculus headsets, which couples forward-facing cameras with a traditional VR headset. The end result is ‘mixed reality’, which marries a digital layer over physical objects and surfaces. Think being able to project and manipulate your PC’s screen onto a wall or thin air, and you’ve got the idea.

Facebook’s CEO and co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has furthermore released ambitious plans to further reinforce remote work at the company. It likely wouldn’t be surprising if some of these mixed reality features – beyond being used at Facebook, internally – would eventually wind up in Workplace for Facebook; the firm’s enterprise productivity suite.

What are your thoughts? Would AR and VR empower your own work? Let us know in the comments below.