In a bid to prevent virtual harassment, Meta announced that they will be adding a “personal boundary” system to its Horizon virtual reality platforms.
This announcement follows a complaint by one user in December, who described experiencing sexual harassment in virtual reality.
“I would like a personal bubble that will force people away from my avatar and I would like to be able to upload my own recording with my harassment ticket. I would also like that all guides are given sensitivity training on this specific subject, so they will understand what is expected. If META won’t give guides tools that will allow them to remove a player immediately from a situation, at least train them to deal with it and not run away,” the user wrote last year.
“Today, we’re announcing Personal Boundary for Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues,” Meta said in an Oculus blog post. “Personal Boundary prevents avatars from coming within a set distance of each other, creating more personal space for people and making it easier to avoid unwanted interactions.”
“Personal Boundary will begin rolling out today everywhere inside of Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues, and will by default make it feel like there is an almost 4-foot distance between your avatar and others,” the announcement continued. “Over time, we’ll continue to make improvements as we learn how this affects people’s experiences.”
“A Personal Boundary prevents anyone from invading your avatar’s personal space. If someone tries to enter your Personal Boundary, the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary. You won’t feel it — there is no haptic feedback,” Meta explained. “This builds upon our existing hand harassment measures that were already in place, where an avatar’s hands would disappear if they encroached upon someone’s personal space.”
“We are intentionally rolling out Personal Boundary as always on, by default, because we think this will help to set behavioral norms — and that’s important for a relatively new medium like VR. In the future, we’ll explore the possibility of adding in new controls and UI changes, like letting people customize the size of their Personal Boundary,” the blog post continued. “Note that because Personal Boundary is the default experience, you’ll need to extend your arms to be able to high-five or fist bump other people’s avatars in Horizon Worlds or in Horizon Venues.”
“Virtual reality can and should be for everyone. And we’re constantly working to improve people’s experience in VR, gathering feedback from the community to inform our work as we continue to iterate and make improvements,” the post concluded. “We believe Personal Boundary is a powerful example of how VR has the potential to help people interact comfortably. It’s an important step, and there’s still much more work to be done. We’ll continue to test and explore new ways to help people feel comfortable in VR.”
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
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