When will this be possible? Sheikh isn't sure.
At this point, Facebook has identified the obstacles in its way and it's working to solve those problems.
Scientists need to figure out how to capture subtle body movements, which convey so much meaning during a conversation. They'll need to build the complex code to capture head, hand and facial movements. They need to solve the issue of streaming latencies, which ruin the perception of a natural in-person connection.
"This could turn out to be a killer app, since it promises a much fuller experience than even video chat," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "Social VR could totally change the way we communicate. As the technology improves, the fidelity of the images will become even more lifelike and the latency will drop until it actually seems like you're in the same room with someone. Who knows, as the tech advances, some people might try to only communicate using Social VR."
Olds estimates we are probably five to seven years away from people using Social VR in their own homes.
Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, agreed that Social VR isn't all that far in the future.
"Of course, we would all have to upgrade our devices, but that's something many do on a regular basis anyway," added Kagan. "This could be huge if they do it right.... For those who are interested, it will be the next best thing since Facebook itself."
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