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You probably haven’t heard of social networking in virtual reality before now, but it’s happening—and it’s a big deal. Social networking in virtual reality has the potential to change the entire scope of human communication, making it both more real and more mediated at the same time. Here’s how that’s likely to happen and why this technology is so exciting!
Is your VR headset a personal boundary? Technically, yes. As in the only person who can see what you’re doing is you. The Meta Social Framework is an open source API that automatically detects when users enter VR mode and then locks their feeds so no one can spy on them. It also hides whatever apps they have running from anyone but themselves—and it does it all automatically so users don’t even have to think about privacy settings or anything like that.
Meta Space is a closed environment (now called “Horizon Worlds”) that is accessible only to those who opt in to it. It functions similarly to a private Facebook group or forum with one exception; while you are still visible in Meta Space through your avatar’s profile image, your direct identity remains secure behind a username which can only be seen by other members of Meta Space. This allows all members to communicate freely on shared subjects without fear of being attacked by those who disagree with them or their views.
Each user’s body is represented by an avatar that is dynamically controlled by their body movements. Users can see their own avatar and the other person’s avatar allowing them to perceive and act intuitively in the virtual environment. It also allows co-located users to explore a VR world together by walking around in physical space.
Are You Willing to Take that Leap? : VR isn’t new. In fact, virtual reality headsets have been available for more than 20 years. However, with Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR earlier this year, it seems many are finally recognizing a revolution in entertainment and social media is underway—and that users may need help deciding if they should embrace it or stay out of harm’s way.
There are many potential reasons why there are so few female VR pioneers. One factor is that it’s more challenging for women to get into VR development than men. Companies that develop VR games don’t seem eager to actively seek out female employees and invite them to apply for a job—they rely on word of mouth or simply post an advertisement on their website, hoping someone will see it. This strategy might not be ideal in reaching as broad an audience as possible.
Also, there seems to be less discussion about supporting women who want to join the industry in communities like Reddit or Imgur (these communities can often feel uncomfortable because they aren’t diverse and don’t represent everyone). Ultimately, if we really want virtual reality technology to revolutionize our lives, we need more diversity across all fields of study. Only then can true innovation occur.
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