Is this VR’s killer app that will catapult it into the mainstream? Facebook showed a demo of Horizon Workrooms, a new feature for Oculus Quest 2 that will enable people to meet their friends and colleagues in a virtual space while working with a virtual monitor and a virtual keyboard and desk that you can both physically feel. And yes it’s now available for Quest 2. Here’s the demo:
VR is seen as a tool for entertainment with the vast majority of apps consisting of games or viewing experiences. It has received glowing reviews but thus far it has not yet become a mainstream device for consumers. But that could change soon with Horizon Workplace, which could become the killer app that sends a VR headset to every office worker in the industrialized world.
The world has been gripped by the pandemic, with companies wondering how to get workers back into the office safely. At the same time, many workers have grown accustomed to working from home, saving commute time and being able to work in their pajamas.
Horizon Workplace lets you use your Quest 2 VR headset to meet and work in VR. Although there have been several apps for meeting people in VR, Horizon Workplace is unique in enabling you to digitize your desk and work with a keyboard, both of which you can physically touch.
How does it work? The desk is actually your own desk at home, which you digitize by using your Quest 2 controller to trace its dimensions. The keyboard is a special keyboard that can be seen in VR. It also screencasts your monitor so that you can see it in VR. Here’s a demo of the VR keyboard and virtual monitor:
In the new version of Horizon Workrooms, you can cast your desktop or laptop screen and be able to work with “real” apps, not just the Oculus browser.
For companies, Horizon Workrooms could reduce overhead: eliminate or reduce rent, utility costs, security costs, possibly insurance as well. Those are big incentives to move their office to VR and could more than offset the costs of a VR headset for every office worker.
One problem with Horizon Workrooms is that it’s still in beta (I’m using build 13) and the mouse / trackpad tracking is wonky and is offset by about 2 inches to the right of the cursor. So when my cursor is over an icon, the icon is actually hovering over a point that is about 2 inches to the right. This is true whether I use my real keyboard or the Logitech K830 keyboard, so it appears to be an issue with the Oculus Remote Desktop software. This makes the mouse / trackpad unusable right now.
Another limit is that my Logitech K830 keyboard has to be able to connect to my desktop PC. If I move to another room, the connection is lost, which renders the keyboard useless. This limits one of the promises of working in VR which is to enable you to take your office anywhere.
Here’s an in-depth look at Horizon Workrooms by CNet:
What do you think of Horizon Workplace? Let me know in the comments!