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Facebook launches new virtual reality app

Facebook has created a virtual space for Facebook friends to meet and interact using virtual reality "as if you were in the same room".

The social network giant announced the launch of a new app called Facebook Spaces at its F8 developer conference in California on Tuesday, which will enable up to four people to appear in the same virtual space with one another, communicate and play games in real time.

The app has been launched in beta for Oculus Rift, the headset built Facebook-owned VR firm Oculus, and will enable users to create a digital avatar of themselves based on their Facebook photos.

Spaces also allows users to bring in other Facebook contacts, even those without access to virtual reality, through the ability to video call others via Facebook Messenger.

Also at the event, the social network announced new live 3D camera effects will be added to the official Facebook app, enabling users to overlay different masks and effects to their selfies and other images before sharing them on the social media site.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company was focused on "building community" among its users.

During the event, Zuckerberg also unveiled new augmented technology the company is working on, that again uses the Facebook camera - called the Camera Effects Platform.

The technology uses a smartphone camera to create better image recognition software, as well as room mapping through a feature it calls Precise Location that can then be edited using 3D effects.

Showing the software in action, the Facebook boss demonstrated capturing an office using the software and then virtually filling it with water on-screen.

Zuckerberg said the new platform could be used as early stages technology to perfect smart glasses or contact lens technology that could be created in years to come.

© PAA 2017

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