Vive and WeChat users will be able to interact with each other in the same virtual space.
Last week, Facebook showed us what the future of social VR looks like at their annual F8 developer conference. Dubbed Facebook Spaces, the new VR app lets you join friends in VR, step inside 360 videos, and even use Messenger to call friends outside of VR.
Now HTC Vive wants to show us that they’ve been focused on social messaging in VR as well. Where Facebook brings Messenger into VR for obvious reasons, Vive is showcasing the world’s first WeChat integrated VR experience.
Enabled by ObEN, a Vive X company, the VR integration with China’s most popular social platform will allow Vive users and WeChat’s 889 million mobile users to interact with each other in the same virtual space in real time.
In what the company is calling “Personal AI,” ObEN also combines voice and visuals to create personalized photo-realistic avatars that Vive and WeChat users can interact with one another’s virtual selves. Although it’s unclear exactly what that looks like going off the teaser video shared below, what we do know from trying Facebook Avatars is that customization of your personal identity can make VR significantly more engaging, social and memorable.
VR is always better with friends. So adding a WeChat integration is a welcome social feature that many will likely appreciate. Especially since one big challenge from some skeptics of VR is that the headset cuts you off from the rest of the world. Now you’ll never miss a WeChat interaction from friends or your mom while inside VR.
“China is a world leader in both mobile internet and VR adoption,” said Nikhil Jain, cofounder and CEO, ObEN. “We are thrilled to join forces with Tencent and HTC Vive to tackle the challenge of improving Social VR experiences using ObEN’s AI technology.”
There have been rumors that Facebook will also bring their Spaces app to other platforms like Vive, PlayStation VR, and Google Daydream. But I don’t think Vive is holding their breath any time soon. Considering that prominence of WeChat within the Chinese market and the unreliable access to Facebook within the country, WeChat was an obvious choice. ObEN’s APIs will be available to VIVEPORT developers later this year.