Meta, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, used the start of its Meta Connect conference to showcase new hardware and its vision for the business metaverse.
The overall aim is to offer a collaborative workspace capable of combining virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and online video conferencing in an immersive collaborative workspace that also provides access to enterprise software.
The hardware is Meta Quest Pro, a VR headset. According to Meta, it’s the first in a line of high-end devices designed for collaboration and productivity. The firm pitches the headset as being able to let users feel more present even when they are physically apart.
Micah Collins, director of product management for Meta’s work products, said: “With Meta Quest, we’re really taking our investments for businesses to the next level, bringing hardware that’s been purpose built for work and a layer of services called Meta Quest for Business that makes the hardware easy to manage and easy to deploy in a business environment.”
Meta has tied up with Microsoft to offer a VR experience in Teams, support InTune mobile device management for the Meta Quest Pro headsets, and provide the ability to access the MS Office Suite and stream Windows applications to the device.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, said: “We knew early on that we wanted this to be a great device for getting work done, and working with Microsoft is a big part of making that happen.”
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said: “We are clearly going through a once-in-a-lifetime change in how we work. Every organisation today is looking for new ways to reconnect and re-energise their workforce at home, in the office and everywhere in-between.”
He said that delivering Teams through Meta Quest Pro will give people new ways to connect with each other. “You can connect, share and collaborate as though you were together in person,” said Nadella. “And in the future, you’ll be able to use other avatars, including Meta ones in immersive experiences and Teams meetings, too. Just think about how powerful whiteboarding or brainstorming – or even Teams meetups – can be in this space.”
As part of this collaboration, Meta Workrooms, a VR conferencing system, will be integrated into the Teams VR experience.
Accenture has been using Meta’s previous business VR headset internally. At the conference, Accenture said it had deployed more than 60,000 Meta Quest 2 headsets to help onboard new joiners, while its Nth Floor virtual campus, co-created with Microsoft, has welcomed 150,000 people.
Accenture said it will be working alongside Meta and Microsoft in the coming year to help companies use VR to transform the way they engage employees, interact with customers, or create products and services in the metaverse. Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, said: “We believe the metaverse will not only change how people work, but it will also profoundly change every part of every business.”
She said VR will enable businesses to reinvent how they interact with customers, what products and services they offer, how they make and distribute them, and how managers engage with staff – from employee onboarding and training to collaboration and personal productivity.
Accenture has partnered with Meta and Microsoft to help businesses create new experiences in the metaverse.
“The advances in Meta’s hardware and software, coupled with the integration with Microsoft technology and Accenture’s expertise in bringing the best of tech to industry to create practical, real-world uses and unlock tangible value, will be game-changing for scaling the metaverse in the enterprise,” said Sweet.