Staff toiling away at home while offices are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic could soon be using a virtual reality office after Facebook revealed new methods of collaborating with colleagues.
As workers try to get to grips with virtual meetings on Zoom, the social network’s VR arm is developing ways to bring the corporate desk into the spare room.
Facebook’s head of VR posted a teaser video on Twitter showing how an office desk could be projected in front of the user at home - complete with multiple PC screens - while they are strapped into a powerful Oculus Rift, Quest or Go headset.
Facebook bought Oculus VR in a $2billion (£1.62 billion today) cash and stocks deal in 2014.
The system uses technology called Passthrough to create an overlay in augmented or mixed reality.
As we think through supercharging remote work and productivity, we've been working on mixed reality concepts that builds on existing technologies like Passthrough to allow people to switch between real and virtual worlds pic.twitter.com/cJCEXDxC7b— Boz (@boztank)May 21, 2020
It can apparently also achieve the effect of appearing like the worker is using a physical keyboard when in reality they are typing in thin air.
The virtual workspace is part of Facebook's plans to create what it called “a super-powered augmented workspace with multiple customisable screens in VR, unbounded from the limits of physical monitors”.
So while the wearer is looking at a digitally-project display, the world around them is real so a monitor can appear to sit on the worker’s home desk.
Programmers have also been working on allowing people's avatars to make "complex facial expressions", while they have a headset on covering their eyes, to encourage "lifelike collaboration".
It comes as the company said it expects half of its staff to work remotely over the next five to 10 years.
Accompanying the eight-second concept video, Facebook VR boss Andrew Bosworth said it was “real footage using prototype headsets”.
Mr Bosworth said: “We’re always experimenting with future concepts using different hardware configurations as part of our proof-of-experience process.
“As we think through supercharging remote work and productivity, we've been working on mixed reality concepts that builds on existing technologies like Passthrough to allow people to switch between real and virtual worlds.”