Microsoft, Adobe, Accenture… Meta multiplies partnerships for productivity in virtual reality
Meta presents its Quest Pro mixed reality headset as primarily intended for professional use. This implies the availability of dedicated applications, which is not really the case at the moment for the company’s consumer products. During its Connect 2022 conference on October 11, Meta announced partnerships with some big names in productivity, starting with Microsoft.
Windows and Office 365 in virtual reality
Mark Zuckerberg video chats with Satya Nadella, announcing the arrival of Microsoft Teams on Quest Pro and Quest 2 devices for immersive meetings, as well as the ability to stream your Windows desktop and access, among other things. Office 365 applications (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook…) and documents hosted on Sharepoint.
In addition, Teams and Horizon Workrooms will be integrated with each other and it will be possible to join a Teams meeting from Workrooms, but also use Meta avatars in immersive Teams meetings. Note that a similar partnership regarding avatars was also announced with Zoom and will be effective in early 2023.
Finally, Quest 2 and Quest Pro can now be managed by Microsoft InTune and Azure Active Directory. Meta still works in parallel with its own MDM (mobile device management) and account administration solution for businesses. Called Meta Quest for Business, it should be announced by the end of the year. It will include additional warranties as well as privileged technical support and will be sold as a SaaS subscription.
Autodesk and Adobe are not left behind
Microsoft isn’t Meta’s only partner, which says it’s been working with “dozens of companies to create new experiences” over the course of a year. Autodesk is one of them. The 3D design giant is preparing an update to its collaborative design review app to support the Quest Pro.
Adobe is also working on VR versions of its Substance 3D app, which will come to Quest Pro and Quest 2 next year. The timeless Adobe Acrobat is also present to work with PDF documents from a virtual environment.
Finally (and most importantly), Meta will open its ecosystem to publishers of independent professional solutions. A program dedicated to these popular “Independent Software Vendors” (ISVs) will be launched next year. The latter drives the use of immersive technologies in the professional world today, but few of them have worked with Meta outside the United States. Hopefully this new program will change that.
A single-player experience for Horizon Workrooms
Meta didn’t skimp on its side with Horizon Workrooms, its virtual reality meeting application. Thanks to Quest Pro and its new sensors, avatars can now reproduce facial expressions and show exactly who is looking at what, allowing for more natural interactions . Note that a new version of said avatars will arrive early next year.
Another new thing planned for 2023: the possibility of viewing 3D models, which has been expected since the launch of the application. It is currently limited to 2D documents projected onto a board. In the meantime, it is now possible to use post-its on the board in question.
Perhaps the most interesting announcement about Workrooms is about a new “personal office”, which allows working on three giant screens and four types of virtual environments. A passthrough mode is always present to take advantage of Quest Pro’s capabilities. Meta is also creating a mixed reality experience called “Magic Room”, designed for work groups in hybrid situations: some are far away, others are gathered in the same room. It is still in the prototype stage.
Accenture wants to accelerate the adoption of XR in the business
If these software announcements represent a step in the right direction, the deployment of these technologies on a large scale remains complicated in business, especially since virtual and augmented reality are still of great interest for those field applications. Meta has a key ally to accelerate in this area: Accenture. Julie Sweet, CEO of this great consulting specialist, appeared at the conference to testify to her own practice in this area.
Accenture has deployed more than 60,000 Quest 2 headsets over the past two years, using them to onboard more than 150,000 new employees. To do this, the multinational relies on a virtual campus developed within Microsoft, the “Nth Floor”. It’s easy to imagine that the first orders for the Quest Pro have already been placed.
In an interview last month, Yves Bernaert, executive director responsible for Europe at Accenture Technology, gave us proof of the real interest of this VR experience: Accenture continues to use it even after the seasons of the Covid-19 restriction. “We have very good feedback on it, about 4.7 out of 5. And we are starting to use these technologies in certain management meetings, to increase interactions compared to videoconferencing.”
But above all Accenture listens to its clients. It created a dedicated division, the Metaverse Continuum Business Group, in April to better tackle the task. It now has more than 1,000 employees in Europe alone. “More than a third of our historical customers are talking about these technologies at a strategic level or have pilot projects underway. Things are accelerating, it’s out of all proportion in the past”Yves Bernaert told us in September.
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