Social Virtual Reality Is Gonna Be Huge

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Social Virtual Reality Is Gonna Be Huge
November 8, 2016

VR isn’t just for recreation right now, it is becoming massively popular thanks to sense of being immersed in time and space. No matter where you are, you can enter different world just by putting on headset.
 
Over the last year we’ve witnessed explosion of content for VR, luckily not only new games were created.
 
The genre is expanding to include also social VR, which is basically ‘connecting two or more real people in a virtual world’, as explained by Facebook on it’s F8 developer conference.

Why social VR will be huge in digital entertainment?
 
Immersive 3D environments offer much more than just more realistic video gaming.
 
Thanks to it’s nature, VR provide experience across all mediums. It’s a matter of time when leading content providers like Facebook, Oculus will decide to put more effort into this technology.
 
Once they decide they want to fulfill our need for social interactions, huge amount on people will realise that this thechnology is the future.
 
We firmly believe that in near future users will be able and, more importantly, want to interact with their friends and family in VR. They will be able to re-visit every memory, e.g. sister’s wedding, Eurotrip 2017 with Mike and Julie, etc., you name it.
 
All that with a real feeling of presence, as if user is really there on the scene. Co-experience is the next huge thing.

That’s why we’ve decided to create quick summary of social VR content available right now or in near future.
 
Facebook/Oculus Social
 
Although Facebook didn’t release anything publicly yet, it has two teams working on social VR.
 
On F8 developer conference two of their employees in separate locations put on Facebook’s Oculus Rift headsets and met in London. Their digital avatars were able to chat and experienced London. They even took a selfie and shared it directly to Facebook page.

One of challenges is to make avatars more real, right now they look like cartoons, not much like real person. One of possible solutions might be scanning your face and body with mobile device.

On Oculus Connect conference in October, company showed avatars with realistic eyes that blink and lips that try to imitate motion of talking.
 
Company wrote in a blogpost:
 
Our avatars can display emotions and expressions like ‘smiling,’ ‘confused,’ ‘skeptical,’ or ‘listening’.
 
Social media platform also unveiled ‘Oculus Rooms’ — virtual spaces where up to eight people can meet, watch TV, listen to music or play games together.
 
AltSpace VR
 
Available for HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift AltSpace VR is probably closest to what idea behind social VR is all about now.

Real people can meet in virtual world and communicate, play games together and participate in various events.

After choosing avatar you can explore various spaces, host your own event or choose to go to events created, with even hundreds of users around you from all over the world e.g. session of D&D or Election Night. You can also watch YouTube and play Twitch stream.
 
AltSpace’s strength lies in very easy communication, however, some concerns were raised recently due to drop of active users. It is still unclear what will be the future of this social VR app. You can read more about it here.
 
High Fidelity
 
This spiritual successor to Second Life is open sourced and supports HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Hydra PrioVR and Leap Motion. You can jump in with friends, chat and interact with virtual spaces.
 
Still in beta, High Fidelity offers creating new world, sculpting models and creating logic in JavaScript to tell the world how the interaction should work.

What seems to be really promising is sensor-based capture of gaze, facial expressions and body language.
 
Also, if you can code it, you can build practically anything into High Fidelity’s worlds. Right now around 70 of them are available.
 
Project Sansar
 
Developed by LindenLabs, creators of aforementioned Second Life, Sansar will be new platform for creating VR experiences.
 
It will empower people to create, share and monetize their own multi-user, interactive virtual experiences, without requiring engineering resources.
 
Users will be able to explore and socialize through expressive avatars, using text and voice chat.
 
Date of release was moved to early 2017, but it is available for creators by invitation. You can apply here.
 
VRChat
 
VRChat is available on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It’s Unity SDK allows users to create new virtual worlds. They can also play and create with people from all around the world.

Moreover, you can customize your private space. Avatars can be customized as well or chosen from those created by other users.
 
vTime
 
Released for Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard this free app allows to interact with family and friends in still growing library of virtual environments.
 
It allows customization of avatar and chatting inside your 360 photo gallery.
 
cluster.
 
Idea behind cluster. is to offer meet ups for creators who don’t want to leave their home.

They can participate in various events just by using their headsets. Meetings vary from small and private to huge ones with thousand of participants.

This app created in Japan is right now available on Oculus Rift. Even if more than 1,000 connections are established simultaneously, users are unlikely to feel a heavy load on the system.
 
VRchive
 
Still in alpha phase, this social media platform encourages you to view and share 360 photos with global VR community.
 
It’s goal is to make spherical panoramas as accessible as YouTube.
 
Summary
 
With the rapid growth of VR technology that we witness right now, VR content is blooming too. Although there are some places where it’s possible to socialize, there still are huge uncharted areas.
 
It’s a matter of time when headsets will be more affordable and when it happens, users will want to hangout with friends, meet new people or cowork even more. It’s fascinating where this technology will lead us.
 
If you know some other social VR, leave a comment so that we can make this list more and more accurate!

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