Oculus shows off Facebook Messenger video calls in virtual reality

Onstage at the Oculus Connect 3 conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered a Facebook Messenger video call from his wife while in the new social VR environment.

It appears that Facebook is finally confident enough with its VR arm that it’s willing to promote cross-network compatibility. The Messenger video call which came from his wife Priscilla Chan while she was at work, popped up on a virtual wrist-worn device. After he physically (virtually?) tapped on the notification, the video call opened in a separate window and Zuck was able to chat while engaging with the virtual environment while the call stayed in his field-of-view. Zuckerberg also teased direct posting to Facebook after taking a VR selfie mid-call.

Telepresence has long been heralded as a clear use case, with some billing it as a the legendary “VR killer app.” When most people talk about VR telepresence they are thinking more about volumetric VR holograms a la Star Wars. HoloLens and Meta have shown off augmented reality demos of this tech. With Messenger calls the experience is much more straightforward with virtual 2D displays that look straight out of Iron Man.

This integration was just a tease of deep Facebook integration into VR— what Zuckerberg framed as the platform of the future.

messenger-callThe real headline of Zuckerberg’s social news today may be how the company is reinventing mobile within virtual reality. The virtual wrist-worn device tied to the positional location of the Touch controllers is the first truly impressive UI development that I’ve seen that seems custom made for VR.