The seventh annual Facebook Connect virtual and augmented reality conference, formerly known as Oculus Connect, is streamed online today. Facebook is expected to unveil a new Oculus Quest VR headset that has been widely used over the past few months. We also saw a slew of new virtual reality games, additional Spark AR features, updates to Horizon’s virtual world on Facebook, and hints of the company’s long-term AR headset plans.
And like many events during the pandemic, Connect 7 is being held entirely online.
Facebook Connect 7 begins with a keynote at 1
Connect is streamed on Facebook Live via the Facebook Reality Labs page, the company’s AR / VR division. The keynote will go live here at 9:55 a.m. (PT) / 12:55 p.m. (ET). The FRL page has links to the other events of the day, including the highly anticipated annual talk at 5:30 p.m. (PT) / 8:30 p.m. (ET) from Oculus Consulting CTO John Carmack and the 7PM PT / 10PM ET Jaden Smith Afterparty.
If you own an Oculus Quest VR headset, you can also view the event in Venues, a live VR event space. Venues is currently in beta and doesn’t seem to be available to everyone. However, if you have access, you can use the event link here.
You can view the full Connect schedule on the Facebook events page, but there are a few highlights.
Connect keynotes typically feature appearances from Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Scientist Michael Abrash, over the day’s big VR and AR news. In addition to product and game announcements, they describe where Facebook is directing its VR efforts in the near future, and provide enticing details on experimental research and development.
If you’re interested in VR development, Facebook offers a number of streams after that. You will start with a 12 o’clock PT / 3 o’clock ET super session describing the status of the Oculus development tools and then move on to specific sessions on topics such as improving accessibility and designing live VR Experiences in social networks.
Carmack, formerly of id Software, officially stepped down from Oculus last year to work on artificial intelligence at Facebook. However, he is still listed as the advisory CTO of Facebook Reality Labs. He plans to give one of his “non-written” lectures – usually long, entertaining, and often insightful excursions on the state of VR and Oculus development.
This is the first time Facebook has removed the name “Oculus” from Connect. Overall, we’re not sure how much this will affect the tenor of the event. Connect has covered more than Oculus for a while, but Facebook is increasingly folding VR into its main offerings. A Facebook account, among other things, is required to log into future headsets. That could mean that we’re learning more about issues like privacy and disinformation – or that the focus is simply on games and technology.