20 January 2017
About couple of months ago, one of the hottest VR startups Oculus talked about expanding virtual reality beyond gaming and bringing social aspects to it. It mentioned two features Rooms and Parties that will allow users to have social experiences in the virtual reality. While these features will not come to the Oculus Rift until 2017, these are now available on the Samsung Gear VR.
For uninitiated ones, Oculus Parties is similar to any group chat application but in the virtual reality. It lets you create a group referred as "Party" where you can invite up to four members. It also shows the name of friends who are currently online and the game they are playing (if any) which makes it easier for you to known which of your friends can be invited to the "party" instantly. In case you are the one who gets invited, you simply need to tap on a button to join the "party." This feature is basically limited to inviting friends and having a group conversation. While the number of friends is restricted to only four at the moment, there are plans to upgrade the limit.
The second feature Oculus Rooms is a more advanced feature which lets users do a lot more things than simply connecting and talking with friends in the virtual reality. In "Rooms", each of the participants has a digital 3D avatar of himself/herself through which they can visit different places, interact with their friends' avatars, and even share emotions. Once you choose the "Rooms" feature, you will find yourself in a virtual reality environment similar to being inside a living room area.
Once you are inside a "Room" as your digital avatar, you can meet your friends' avatars and play different games like cards or board games. If you want, you can even sit and have a chat like you normally do while hanging out with your friends.
As mentioned above, both Oculus Rooms and Parties features can be experienced on the Gear VR now. If you have an Oculus Rift, you will have to wait until next year.