San Francisco (AFP)

Facebook presented a new professional collaboration service on Thursday that allows users to come together via Oculus virtual reality headsets, one more step towards building the "metaverse", a universe where reality and the internet will eventually come together. mix harmoniously, according to the Californian firm.

In the "workrooms", participants appear around a round table in the form of personalized avatars, which resemble cartoon characters.

They can interact via their microphone, draw on a virtual whiteboard using remote controls that replicate their gestures or even broadcast the screen in front of them, in the room where they are physically.

"Workrooms are our flagship collaborative product that allows people to come and work in the same room, despite the physical distance," the company said in a statement on the blog of Oculus, the brand of virtual reality headsets ( VR) acquired by Facebook in 2014.

“It works just as well in virtual reality as it does on the web and it's designed to improve your team's ability to collaborate,” she added.

the new technology is available in beta to users of Quest 2 headsets. Their colleagues who do not have this equipment can join meetings via video calls.

At the end of July, Facebook announced the creation of a team dedicated to the "metaverse", that is to say a "meta-universe" where the real and the virtual merge, a vision of science fiction already present in video games.

The metaverse represents the successor to the mobile internet and the future of the social network, according to its founder Mark Zuckerberg.

"To accomplish our vision of the metaverse, we need to build the connective fabric between (the different) digital spaces - in order to overcome physical limitations and to be able to move between them with the same ease as between rooms in one's space. house ", had detailed the boss on his Facebook profile.

Gradually, screens, holograms, VR headsets and augmented reality glasses are supposed to allow fluid "movements" of virtual universes in physical places, like "teleportations", he explained.

"The essential quality of the metaverse will be the presence - the feeling of really being there with people - and FRL (Facebook Reality Labs, the division in charge of the project, editor's note) builds products that bring presence in different digital spaces For years".

Oculus has largely focused on video games so far, but the division is also exploring other applications, from tourism to telecommuting.

© 2021 AFP