For most its time, computers interact with humans through the screen. This is no longer the case.
From the early days of computers, to desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, as well as some other smart devices, it's safe to say that a screen is what they have in common. To go beyond the screen, researchers have ventured onwards to develop Virtual Reality (VR), as well as Augmented Reality (AR).
In the so-called virtual worlds, users are no longer restricted to the interactions they were bounded when using mouse, keyboard or other peripherals.
By entering the virtual worlds, the boundaries between reality and computer-generated worlds start to fade.
Facebook, which rebranded to Meta, has a bold vision in the so-called metaverse.
And this time, the company has announced that it is opening up 'Horizon Worlds', initially to Facebook users in the U.S. and Canada that are 18 or older.
Horizon Worlds which was launched in beta in 2020 to only a select Oculus VR users, allow users to create 'legless' avatars to represent themselves in the digital realm, allowing them to wander the animated world to interact with others, including playing and others.
According to Meta on its announcement:
Horizon Worlds is more or less, like Philip Rosedale's Second Life, or Microsoft's Minecraft, or Epic Game's Fortnite, but in VR.
As Meta expands Horizon Worlds out from invite-only beta, the company is transporting users to play games, attend events, or hangout in it.
When first entering this 'metaverse', users can visit the Plaza, which is a place Meta created. Then there is the 'Pixel Plummet' platform where users can engage in a battle royale-like game, visit 'Wand & Broom', or the 'Mark’s Riverboat'.
Users can then explore experiences that Meta itself created, with the addition of community-generated spaces, which anyone can build.
When interacting with other avatars, people can speak or even throw paper airplanes.
Users can always 'escape' this digital world by accessing the primary menu, where they use the safety button to instantly teleport them to a "Safe Zone," which is a private room where they can take a break or block, or mute, or report other people.
Before becoming Meta, Facebook was struggling to remove the barrage of hate speech and violent images on the social media platform.
While it boasted a number of technologies and detailed a list improvements through various statistics and numbers, the social media cannot completely eliminate the toxic contents its users are generating.
What's more, Facebook, the titan that hungers for user data, is not known to preserve user privacy, in which the company experienced numerous data leaks in the past.
Last but not least, leaked documents suggested that Facebook's Instagram app is dangerous for teenagers' mental health. It is allegedly said that Facebook knows how dangerous Instagram is, but failed to properly communicate that fact, or protect its young users.
When Facebook the company was experiencing backlash and criticisms by governments, investors and also its users, the company rebranded.
And this Horizon Worlds is Facebook's first step into becoming less of a social media network, and more of a metaverse company.
Facebook as Meta, is trying to become a metaverse company, by also clearing up its bad reputation. This is why the broader launch of Horizon Worlds, Meta is taking baby steps into creating the virtual world where people can connect.