Meta’s decision to stop requiring a Facebook login for its virtual reality headsets is an early step toward letting companies set up work accounts for the devices.
Starting in August, the company’s VR hardware won’t need a Facebook account to work. People will instead make a new profile, called a “Meta account,” that is not linked to their other social media.
Meta plans to let companies set up business Meta accounts for their employees, manage VR headsets, and give employees a single sign-on next year. Meta didn’t give any more information about these skills.
Some organisations looked for a way around the Facebook login requirement because it had led to complaints and concerns about privacy. The founder of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Jeremy Bailenson, said that the school’s VR classes use headsets made by Meta. To protect the privacy of students, the lab had to ask Meta for help making classroom accounts that were anonymous.
Bailenson said, “I’m happy to see that hardware and social media are being kept separate.”
Even when Facebook logins didn’t make organisations’ jobs harder, they sometimes made things more confusing.
The company Osso VR uses simulated surgeries to teach doctors how to do surgery. CEO Justin Barad said that many medical schools and healthcare companies use the $299 Meta Quest 2 headset to use Osso’s training programme. This is because the device is very immersive and has a high level of immersion.
But trainees have to sign in with their social media accounts before they can use Osso’s platform, which seemed like a needless step.
“It was clear that it wasn’t the best system,” Barad said. “It didn’t seem to fit with the use case at hand.”
Barad said that the recent change should make it more likely that healthcare companies will use the Quest 2 for training.
People who use Meta headsets will have to make Meta accounts and change how their avatar looks and what their profile name is next month.
Meta has a head start in the market for VR headsets. IDC says that 90% of headset sales in the first quarter of this year were of the company’s Quest 2. The sales of the device were much higher than those of the second-placed ByteDance Pico headset, which only had 4.5% of the market.
But Meta has to compete with a lot of other companies for AR and VR customers. The $3,500 HoloLens 2 AR headset from Microsoft has a foothold in the enterprise market because of features like managing access to data through Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory. Microsoft also wants to buy Activision Blizzard. This will help Microsoft’s future AR and VR products because Activision Blizzard is good at making virtual worlds for games.
Rival Bloomberg says that Apple plans to put out a VR or AR headset next year. The company hasn’t talked about a product in public.
Mike Gleason is a journalist who writes about unified communications and tools for working together. He used to work for the Milford Daily News, the Walpole Times, the Sharon Advocate, and the Medfield Press, where he covered communities in the MetroWest area of Massachusetts. He has also worked as a local editor for Patch and for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont. His Twitter handle is @MGleason TT.
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