Facebook’s Future of Work Is a VR Office with Big Head Avatars

By using the Oculus Quest 2’s controllers, users can trace out a personal working space inside their virtual office, while the Oculus Remote Desktop companion app lets you create virtual representations of your physical computer and even your keyboard in VR, so as to give users a better sense of their surroundings along with full access to their notes and files.

Additionally, thanks to its support for low-latency spatial audio, anytime you’re in a workspace with others (like a virtual conference room), the Quest 2 can make other people sound as if they are in the same room as you are depending on how far away they are, letting you drift in and out of conversations just by moving around. And if you’re not happy with the way your avatar or virtual office look, Facebook says there’s a huge variety of customization options to mess around with.

Horizon workrooms virtual keyboard and display.

For those with compatible computers and peripherals, users will be able to create virtual representations of their physical desk setup in Horizon Workrooms.
Image: Facebook

When it comes to being productive, Facebook also equips every virtual room with a virtual whiteboard, so people can sketch out ideas or diagrams while their colleagues follow along, with the whiteboards also supporting the ability to pin digital images from your files as needed. And when you’re done, you can even save all of your virtual whiteboards to revisit later or export them for traditional 2D viewing.

Also, thanks to built-in support for hand tracking, Workrooms users aren’t forced to employ the Quest 2’s controllers for everything while also enabling hand gestures for more natural communication. And for those who don’t have a VR headset, you can still participate in VR meetings in Horizon Workrooms using your webcam via a traditional invite link, with Facebook supporting up to 16 people in VR and up to a total of 50 people in a single call. And just like standard video meetings, you can still share files, take notes, and sync meetings with your Outlook or Google calendars.

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Horizon Workrooms video call support

While Workrooms is intended as a VR-driven experience, colleagues without a VR headset can still attend meetings in 2D via a traditional video call.
Image: Facebook

Of course, with Facebook’s increased focus on supporting privacy and security, the company says that Workrooms will not use data from your virtual meetings to influence advertising and that your colleagues will be unable to view what’s on your virtual desktop unless you give them explicit permission. Finally, in the event that a person or even a whole team does something that violates Facebook’s community and VR conduct policies, users will be able to report people to a team admin or Facebook itself, with users able to include data/recordings from the incident for Facebook to review and handle accordingly.

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So while Horizon Workrooms might seem a bit awkward or unnecessary right now (those avatars really don’t help), with more and more people looking to work remotely, the idea of improved VR collaboration tools does make a bit of sense.

Horizon Workrooms is available in beta form today as a free download, which you can sign up for here.

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Fitbit Charge 5 Leaks Reveal New Color Touchscreen

Fitbit Charge 5 Leaks Reveal New Color Touchscreen

The Charge line has mostly stuck to iterative updates over the years, and as one of the company’s most popular products, Fitbit’s adopted an “if it ain’t broke” strategy. One interesting point will be battery life. Fitbit’s multi-day battery life helps set its gadgets apart in a world increasingly dominated by premium smartwatches that can barely last longer than a day. However, color touchscreens are much more power-hungry compared to monochrome screens. It wasn’t an issue on the Luxe, but then again, the Luxe didn’t have built-in GPS either.

It makes sense that Fitbit would focus more on its trackers this year. Not only did it come out guns blazing last year, but it’s also not likely to make much headway on the premium smartwatch front until next year. While CEO James Park said at Google I/O that the company would be working on a Wear OS 3 smartwatch, Google recently noted that the new platform wouldn’t be coming to non-Samsung watches until mid-2022 at the earliest. That would also give Qualcomm time to shape the hell up and deliver wearable chips that actually use tech from this decade.

We won’t have to wait too long to find out more about the Charge 5. Fitbit generally keeps to a spring-fall launch cadence, and it usually holds a launch event sometime around the end of August.

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Someone Made a Playable Clone of Pokémon for the Pebble Smartwatch

Grab This Playable Clone of Pokémon for the Pebble Smartwatch Fast

Pebblemon is currently available through the Rebble.io repository, which was created shortly after the company died as a place to continue to allow users to maintain their smart wearables, and to give developers a way to distribute new apps. If you don’t already use it, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to get it to play nice with your Pebble watch, but it doesn’t appear terribly difficult. Alternately, Allen has provided all of his source code through GitHub, if you’re in the mood to compile or adapt it into something else yourself.

There are two things to keep in mind if you want to try Pebblemon out: it’s only compatible with the Pebble Time, Pebble Time Round, and Pebble 2 models—not the original version of the wearable—and you’re going to want to jump on this as soon as possible because there’s a very good chance Nintendo’s eager lawyers are already aware of the game, and are already working to wipe it off the face of the Earth.