Oct 13, 2022 - Technology

First big move to a virtual workplace

Animated illustration of goggles with glowing static.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Meta this week rolled out the most advanced, widely available virtual reality glasses ever — and found a rival/partner to bring them into your home office: Microsoft.

Why it matters: You need to pay close attention to Meta — and others — who are trying to will into existence the metaverse, which is basically a 3D virtual world.

  • Facebook's parent sells the Meta Quest Pro headset ($1,500 a pop). Microsoft will provide the platform for you to use it. 

🧠 Catch me up: The metaverse is an interactive, 3D version of today's internet, where people can travel through virtual spaces.

  • But it's unclear how broad a space companies can peacefully share, or how easy it will be to move your stuff from place to place.

🖼️ The big picture: Almost no one will use this regularly or reliably, for now.

  • But when the giants throw tens of billions at building something, it looks likely to happen — and will grow more affordable and ubiquitous with time. 

💬 Thought bubble from Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried, who test-drove the Quest Pro and has used most VR headsets on the market:

  • It's still really early, but Meta is moving in the right direction with the Quest Pro. You can see your real keyboard as you take notes, and sip a drink without taking off the headset.

But office work in VR still isn't comfortable enough to do for hours at a time. And it would be nice to be able to put on a headset and feel like you are right next to your co-worker in a remote meeting.

  • Ina also remembers seeing the first iPhone and knowing it would be a game changer — even though that first model didn't have copy and paste. Many people scoffed that no one would want to type on its tiny, flat screen.

🥊 Reality check, from Axios managing editor Scott Rosenberg: There's no guarantee of success no matter how big the spend.

  • The road to where we are today is filled with the steaming hulks of dead billion-dollar projects that tech giants threw their best brains at, from Apple's Newton to Microsoft's Windows Phone. 

The bottom line, from Ben Thompson in today's Stratechery: VR's usefulness is likely to emerge first in the workplace — in part because "you're more likely to use it if your company pays for it."

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