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Spatial's Jacob Loewenstein speaks with Axios' Ina Fried, within Spatial's VR app. Screenshot: Axios

While two-dimensional video chat has become the standard for remote office meetings, a number of startups are working to bring that experience to VR.

Why it matters: VR has some advantages, including its immersiveness and the feeling of connection. However, as with other uses of VR, there are drawbacks, including challenges related to multitasking, or even taking notes.

Driving the news:

  • Spaces VR, which builds destination VR attractions at theme parks, has pivoted and these days is focused on letting people join Zoom meetings from their VR headsets.
  • Spatial, meanwhile, has its own VR environment that people can join from several types of VR and AR headsets. Today, Spatial is announcing the environment can also be reached from a standard PC or phone browser, albeit with a more limited set of controls. Spatial is also making its premium features, which it sells to businesses, free for the next several months so people can use it to ride out the pandemic.

My thought bubble: I recently tested out Spatial, and being able to meet via avatar was a nice change of pace from the usual square grid of a Zoom call. But other aspects of work remain tricky in VR, especially for a journalist trying to take notes during a meeting.

  • Spatial has a cool voice dictation feature, but unfortunately everyone could hear me dictating, so it really wouldn't work for journalism, or even a worker wanting to take good meeting notes.

Yes, but: VR-based collaboration could yet have its moment in the next couple of years. Prior to the pandemic, there wasn't a compelling enough case, since people that needed to work closely together had better options.

  • "COVID has thrown all this on its head," Spatial business chief Jacob Loewenstein said in an interview (conducted in VR). "No more travel. No more working in the same office."

Watch: You can watch a video of my full interview with Loewenstein, and see some additional highlights from my time in Spatial. Both are on YouTube — no headset required.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

India sets new COVID world record as oxygen demand jumps seven-fold

COVID-19 patients being treated with free oxygen at a makeshift clinic in Indirapuram, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: Rebecca Conway/Getty Images

India has seen demand for oxygen jump "seven-fold" as the country set a new world record for daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, per AP.

By the numbers: India's health ministry reported 412,262 new infections, taking the official tally past 21 million, and 3,980 deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The official death toll now stands at 230,168. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

4 hours ago - World

U.K. sends patrol ships to British island amid fishing dispute with France

The HMS Tamar, one of the two ships deployed to Jersey. Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it has deployed two Royal Navy patrol vessels to the island of Jersey "as a precautionary measure," as tensions over fishing rights escalate with France.

Why it matters: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement the government took the action to protect Jersey against potential threats of "a blockade" of French fishing boats at the island, which is off the coast of northwest France.

Social media's "in-kind contribution to Biden"

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Facebook's continued suspension of Donald Trump's account extends the silencing of Joe Biden's most potent critic — and the current president's control over the national political narrative into his second 100 days.

Why it matters: Biden has been able to successfully focus on COVID-19 relief, his infrastructure plan and fielding his new administration, in part, because Trump hasn't been able to shake his social media muzzle and bray about the migration crisis or any White House misstep.