Facebook Spaces – The Long Awaited Virtual Reality (VR) on Facebook

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Facebook announced its new 3.35 GB software known by the name ‘Facebook Spaces’ at its F8 Developer’s Conference, held at San Jose on April 18th, 2017. The company is releasing the beta version of it in for the Oculus Rift.

In this software, platforms will be available on the Facebook application that brings together augmented reality (AR) using artificial intelligence (AI) with virtual reality (VR). The company shared the demonstration of their new software being run on Facebook app, where the application’s camera will now be supporting

The company shared the demonstration of their new software being run on Facebook app, where the application’s camera will now be supporting real-time augmented reality 3D effects. Various competent artists will be able to showcase their talent from around the world by adding a variety of effects to Facebook’s camera.

What is Facebook Spaces?

In practice, VR refers to computer-generated avatars. The virtual reality simulation integrates your social media application with virtual reality, allowing you to interact with your friends as if it’s a hangout session, where you feel as if you are sitting with each other. Together you may watch videos, engage in different activities, and take photos etc. – all in Virtual Reality.

The head of VR- Rachel Franklin, while describing the software said:

“Spending time with friends and family creates many of our most meaningful memories, but it’s impossible to always be physically near the people we care about. That’s where the magic of virtual reality comes in.”

According to the company, it has “only just scratched the surface of social VR technology” and plans to take it to other headsets in the future.

The team lead and manager of Facebook Spaces- Mike Booth says that the use of Rift and controller helps create a ‘motion capture studio’. It tries to mimic your eye movements as well as listens to the words you speak into the microphone and makes your avatar make suchlike movement from the mouth.

“You get your actual body language. It captures head movements, even hand gesticulation.”

It is however not as accurate, as the sole purpose is to just make put out the impressions and show your actions.

“We’re not trying to be super photorealistic. We just want to show that you’re talking.”

According to Booth, everything you see gets cartooned, therefore it’s a challenge. He said:

“The biggest challenge was how the avatars were going to look. You know the uncanny valley? Well the uncanny valley in VR is a lot wider. Anything that’s attached to your head is going to have biological motions; it’s going to seem alive.”

He further said:

“Finding the right balance of charming and being human recognizable without being too realistic and creepy, was harder than expected. One of our early experiments was to have the lips smoothly blend with the shapes, thinking it would be realistic. And it was just way too creepy. There were also some experiments on non-human avatars like you’d see on Zootopia, but that was nixed as well. Facebook is about authentic identity, which is fundamentally about humans.”

He stated the main reason being inventing Facebook Spaces:

“The core of Spaces, the reason it exists, is so you can feel like you’re in person with your friends. And then it’s having interesting things you can do with your friends. It’s not a chatroom where you’re just talking.”

How is Facebook Spaces different from Oculus Rooms?

Booth answered to the query by saying that is that the

“Oculus’ version is made just for Oculus hardware and is made to drive that particular platform. Facebook Spaces, on the other hand, is supposed to be much more widespread. That’s why even though it’s an Oculus exclusive right now, Booth wants it to be on all VR hardware. Yes, even the Vive.”

How to use the new feature?

  1. Since the feature works for Oculus Rift, you may download it ‘free’ from the Oculus Store.
  2. It is also necessary that you have with you Oculus Rift headset along with Touch controllers.
  3. Swipe your Facebook application’s camera from Facebook feed
  4. Now, you’ll be able to view some messages sent by the Facebook team in regards to the new effects.
  5. Step one however is ‘The making of your own custom cartoon avatar’ i.e. you will be able to design your own appearance from scratch, by customizing each feature of your body individually, e.g. your nose, hair etc. or you may simply use your profile picture and the software will smartly transform it into a cartoon version.
  1. Now, you will be able to
    • Use the 360 degree view
  • Overlay various filters and masks on to your images before you share them.
  • You can doodle using a marker and turn them into 3-D art.
  • Play around with your creation
  1. Another important addition is ‘The Virtual Selfie Stick’ through which you can capture shots of yourself, along with you avatar friends and share it on your newsfeed, just like other images.
  2. While enjoying your time using ‘Facebook Spaces’, you may as well invite up to 3 of your Facebook friends via video calling, each having their own headsets and controllers.
  3. How does Facebook Spaces work?
  • Move thumb sticks up: makes your avatar laugh
  • Point thumb sticks out: makes your avatar smile.
  • Turn Point thumb sticks outward: makes your avatar shrug and appear confused.
  • Put the controllers close to your face: makes your avatar make an “OH” face.
  1. It may be noted that it only works for Oculus Rift headsets, not the Samsung Gear VR headset.


Facebook Spaces initially got introduced by the CEO of Facebook- Mark Zuckerberg in October 2016, where he demonstrated the working of VR; how users could raise virtual objects and interact with real-world objects in a live video. The product finally showed up in the market, and seems to offer a wide range of core features portrayed by Zukerberg. Learn about the features, from Mark himself.


The only problem in this technology is that its only fun for a short span of time to play alone, so in order to cherish this VR experience in maximum potential, you must enjoy with your friends, for which you, as well as the friends you are interacting with, must own Oculus headsets and touch controllers.

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