By Michelle D. Madsen

As another step toward developing the metaverse, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, says it will be adding an upgrade to its Quest 2 headsets that will allow users to more easily interact with one another in virtual reality.

The update for the Quest model being developed by Meta’s Oculus headset unit is expected to enable users to enter virtual settings with their friends, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page on Friday.

An inside view of the Quest 2 headset, which will allow users to access the Horizon World virtual reality platform. (Meta)

“I’m here to announce the ability to, as soon as you put on your Quest 2 headset, to have people hang out with you in a social environment.,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I’m here to announce the ability to, as soon as you put on your Quest 2 headset, to have people hang out with you.”

The latest software upgrade will enable users to access the Horizon World virtual reality platform, which  Meta first made available in North America at the end of last year.

Meta is also working on a feature that would enable users to create their own virtual worlds in which they may hold gatherings of avatars, Zuckerberg said in his post.

Players use the company’s VR headsets to take part in Meta’s Horizon Worlds online game, which is still a long way from being a fully functional metaverse. Once that does happen, activities carried out online, such as conversing with a buddy, will feel as if they are taking place in real life.

For now, the technology does make it possible for users to get together online with friends or strangers, participate in gaming and immerse themselves in 360-degree video content.

A front view of the Quest 2 VR headset, another move by the parent company of Facebook into the metaverse. (Meta) 

Meta implemented a minimum distance between users’ avatars early this year to prevent harassment. A function called “personal barrier” creates a space ring around the digital proxies of the users.

This is the latest push into the metaverse by Meta. Last October, Facebook changed the name of its parent company to Meta to underscore in part its goal to transition away from being a social media platform and toward its vision for the future of virtual reality.

Its metaverse offerings also include tools for working remotely, which has surged in popularity and necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gaming industry has been embracing Meta’s technology, with Fortnite and Roblox players, in particular, developing an affinity for it in recent months.

Produced in association with MetaNews.

Edited by Richard Pretorius and Matthew B. Hall

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