Facebook owner Meta shares a preview of the first physical store opening May 9 in California

On Wednesday, Facebook owner Meta Platforms previewed its first physical store, which includes a floor-to-ceiling screen to show off games on its virtual reality headsets and rooms to test out video calling devices.

The store, which is slated to open on May 9, is located on the main campus of Meta’s Reality Labs unit in the city of Burlingame, in Silicon Valley, California. The unit develops the hardware products the company aims to sell there, including Ray-Ban smart glasses, Portal video calling devices and Oculus VR headsets.

With blond wood and minimalist decor, the store’s design echoes the aesthetic pioneered by Apple when establishing retail stores more than two decades ago.

The opening of the Meta store makes tangible what is largely a theoretical future endeavor for the world’s largest social media company, which has invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality in an effort to build the “metaverse”, a term used to describe immersive, shared virtual spaces.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the Metaverse could be the world’s next big computing platform, but warned it could take around a decade for the company’s bets to pay off. fruits.

In the meantime, with growth slowing and the company still almost entirely dependent on digital ads for revenue, Meta is cutting some of its long-term investments.

In addition to promoting its hardware devices to consumers, Meta is increasingly offering them to businesses. He demonstrated at the store conference calls that can feature a mix of virtual reality avatars and traditional video calls.

The company is experimenting with augmented reality technology that would allow users to join conferences as avatars through Portal, without wearing a headset, said Micah Collins, director of product management working on enterprise tools.

Collins acknowledged that enterprise metaverse activity is nascent, and a spokesperson said most uses of Horizon Workrooms VR conferencing technology come from within Meta. Still, Collins said, the company senses an opportunity.

While many products are still at a very early stage and known in their consumer context, “there are enough that give us a lot of confidence to attack the space,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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