VivaTech: we participated in a virtual meeting in the Meta metaverse

If the meeting is not necessarily shorter, it will already be more innovative. The Meta group presents to VivaTech its vision of the metaverse, these virtual worlds of which the American group wants to become the reference with its Horizons.

His recipe? Make these universes more immersive with the help of virtual reality powered by Oculus headsets. As a demonstration of the interest and curiosity around this brand new concept, the large Meta stand is always full, especially to try out the Horizon Workrooms, the “metaverted” meeting rooms.

So how does it work? We sit in an office, put on the Quest 2 headphones, and set off for a meeting around a virtual table with fairly well-designed avatars. Faces and bodies move well and the cartoonish feeling fades quickly.

The Oculus Quest 2 headset immerses the user in the meeting.

The joysticks are used only to access the interface and are placed in front of you. Technology has recently taken a huge leap forward with hand detection. The helmet detects them and reproduces all movements perfectly and right down to the fingertips. This reactivity strengthens the immersion in virtuality and everything quickly becomes natural.

We turn to our neighbor, the host of our meeting, who guides the guests in the first gestures to master. The speech is clear and our interlocutor seems really close. “It is the spatialization of sound that is the most important element in our metaverse,” explains Antoine Bordes, director of the AI ​​research laboratory at Meta. “This will recreate a complicity and spontaneity in the exchanges, there will be only more photorealistic avatars able to project the non-verbal as the arch of the eyebrows” he assures.

The virtual environment adopts the codes of classic meetings.
The virtual environment adopts the codes of classic meetings.

Hearing another person on the other side of the table, with a slightly more distant sound, changes the perception of the room and imitates a classic meeting in which everyone speaks more or less loudly. The furniture changes in the blink of an eye: this “meeting” is exported to a beach or in the heart of a futuristic city. On the left, a screen broadcasts the live video while on the right a large blackboard is used to present the day’s ideas.

Workrooms also lets you grab a virtual pen to draw on it or jot down traces during a “brainstorm”. The tool is therefore quite collaborative and responsive. Problem: The controller disconnects just when it is our turn to test this pen, the “tracking” is lost and the application crashes.

The user can use a palette of tools to express themselves on the virtual whiteboard.
The user can use a palette of tools to express themselves on the virtual whiteboard.

The experience is objectively more impressive than previously imagined as Meta has made progress in getting as close as possible to a physical encounter. Next step: a mixed reality meeting where the metaverse will overlap the office environment. Meta’s next helmet, called Cambria, should begin to transport us into this future of work as early as the next school year.

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