Social networks already act as a gateway for us to connect with new and old friends from anywhere in the world, but we’re still limited to hanging out through screens. That’s why virtual reality is the next logical step in the evolution of social networking as it would allow us to hang out with these people in simulated areas as if we were physically together. This is exactly what a startup called AltspaceVR is trying to achieve.
We know what social networks are like on the Web and in apps, but what will they be like in virtual reality? While Facebook, the owner of Oculus VR, is surely pondering this behind the scenes, a startup called AltspaceVR is already offering a few clues about how we may connect with each other in a simulated world. AltspaceVR is building social virtual environments, ranging from a Japanese-style garden to an amphitheater to a dark, sleek lounge. The hope is that headset-wearing users will hang out together in these places in the form of avatars that display real body language thanks to motion sensors, and do things like watching movies, playing games, or shopping together using a shared virtual Web browser. AltspaceVR also hopes developers will use the software development kit it’s building to bring all kinds of applications—a giant chess game, for instance, or a 3-D model viewer—to its social, virtual world.