“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected.”
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and Co-founder
Nine years later, Zuckerberg continues to work towards that same mission, this time in a parallel universe.
Earlier last week, he revealed his company’s new name– Meta, at the Connect Conference. This change was in tune with Facebook’s growing obsession with Metaverse, the ‘New North Star’ at Facebook. As Zuckerberg defined earlier, Meta is the amalgamation of social networking, AI, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
Parent company Meta will encompass the social media platform Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Quest VR headset, and its Horizon VR platform.
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Facebook is now undertaking new projects and has many collaborations and partnerships planned in its pipeline to further accelerate its Metaverse. We have curated a list of present and future partnerships by Meta to attain its metaverse ambitions— a virtual reality universe that the tech giant considers as the future.
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Meta has recently partnered with Israeli startup Spike to launch one of its first 2D productivity applications on its virtual reality platform. The Spike application helps in the transformation of regular emails into chat-like conversations. Thus, bringing in team collaborations, tasks, and video calls into one place and allowing users to attend meetings virtually in VR.
Spike has recently been launched in the Oculus store. It works on iPhones, Android devices, Mac and PC. More recently, it is available on the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. While free to use for individuals, Spike costs $7 to $12 per month for small businesses.
Meta announced a $150 million initiative to train creators in building immersive educational content for people. To facilitate the same, Meta is working with game engine developer Unity to create Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) content.
Additionally, Meta is partnering with institutions such as BYJU’s FutureSchool and VictoryXR to bring immersive and collaborative learning experiences to life. It is also partnering with nonprofits like Generation, Urban Arts Partnership and Peace Literacy Institute, among other colleges and universities, to promote the same.
Advancements in Spark AR
Facebook’s in-house studio tool for AR effects, Spark AR, has four lakh creators. With AR continuing to be a growing means for expression and connection, the 700 million people using Spark AR will soon be able to build the Metaverse and fill it with content and experiences. Meta is working on tools that creators can use to place digital objects in the physical world, allowing individuals to interact with them. Additionally, Meta has also created a new app– Polar– to make AR creation possible for beginners with no experience in design, art or programming.
In line with this, to help beginners and advanced creators be at the same level and improve their skills alike, Meta is expanding its professional curriculum. It has partnered with Coursera and edX to make its Spark AR curriculum available to the masses.
Going ahead, Metaverse will be a cumulation of work and play and everything in between. To ensure seamlessness, Meta is also testing Quest for Business– features designed for businesses to run on the Quest 2 headsets. Zuckerberg has plans to start its limited beta testing this year itself and further expand in 2002, launching it fully for businesses in 2023.
Zuckerberg predicts that more than a billion people will reach the Metaverse in the next decade, converting it into an entire ecosystem for interaction, working and creating content and products. Meta’s quest seems genuine; many critics are of the opinion that this is a distraction from Facebook’s controversial leaked documents. Meta’s AR glasses– Project Nazare continues to be a couple of years away, but the team is gearing up to jump-start the road ahead.