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Facebook will create a product team to work on the “metaverse,” a concept that involves creating digital worlds that multiple people can inhabit at the same time.
The metaverse team will be part of Facebook’s virtual reality group, Reality Labs, executive Andrew Bosworth said in a Facebook post on Monday.
“Today Portal and Oculus can teleport you into a room with another person, regardless of physical distance, or to new virtual worlds and experiences,” Bosworth wrote. “But to achieve our full vision of the Metaverse, we also need to build the connective tissue between these spaces — so you can remove the limitations of physics and move between them with the same ease as moving from one room in your home to the next.”
Vishal Shah, the executive in charge of product at Instagram, is among those joining Facebook’s new metaverse group.
Technology companies and executives have started to increasingly discuss building a “metaverse” as a successor technology to smartphones and the mobile internet. Generally, technologists consider a metaverse a virtual world where large numbers of people can gather to play, work and socialize.
The metaverse is closely related to virtual reality and augmented reality technologies currently being developed by Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft in addition to Facebook. Roblox, a game targeted at children whose parent company is valued at over $44 billion, is often considered an example of a metaverse.
Facebook is heavily investing in AR and VR technologies because they offer the company the possibility of controlling its own hardware platform if they end up taking off, instead of being controlled by rules Apple and Google place on their app stores.
In an interview with The Verge published earlier last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company’s own metaverse would work on virtual reality headsets, as well as mobile devices and game consoles.
“And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said in the interview.