Facebook has pushed new features to its business communication platform, Workplace, while announcing that its Oculus for Business virtual reality platform is out of closed beta and into general availability.

Facebook is bringing a number of fresh capabilities to Workplace as it seeks to capitalize on the massive growth in the use of workplace communication tools since the coronavirus pandemic began. This includes Workplace Rooms – an enterprise-focused take on the recently-announced Messenger Rooms – which enables coworkers to set up a dedicated video chat room that users can join from a desktop computer or mobile device.

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Also arriving on Workplace from Facebook are improvements to the platform’s live streaming capabilities. Called Live Producer, additions include the ability to add automatically generated live captioning to live video streams, which is available in six languages, as well as automatic caption translations and editing, and the ability to add a Q&A to a live video.

Workplace on Portal updates include the ability to use Portal TV for Workplace video calls, Workplace Rooms on Portal and Workplace Live on Portal.
Workplace from Facebook

Further updates have been made to Workplace’s “smart” video-calling capabilities to allow users to make Workplace video calls using Facebook’s Portal TV camera unit. Customers can also use Workplace Rooms on Portal and Workplace Live on Portal, with Facebook saying the update would help remote workers “work more efficiently while creating meaningful work.”

According to Facebook, the number of paying Workplace customers has climbed from 3 million in October 2019 to 5 million in 2020: on top of that, there are now more than 20 million active monthly users across 170,000 active Work Groups on Facebook, the company said.

Julien Codorniou, VP of Workplace, said in a statement: “At Workplace we believe strongly that video will be central to the future of work – enabling companies to maintain community, while exploring the opportunities and diversity that flexible working can offer.”

Separately, Facebook revealed that Oculus for Business, the company’s deployment platform for enterprise-grade virtual reality (VR), is now generally available.

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Oculus for Business uses a range of enterprise-ready software and cloud-based management tools to create VR-ready workflows. Uses can vary from training surgeons using virtual reality, to viewing 3D models for construction and manufacturing firms, to enabling teams working remotely to “meet”.

Facebook said that new features for Workplace tailored to VR applications were “well underway.”

The company added: “We’re excited to open the Oculus for Business platform to everyone and to see how companies of all kinds can use VR to fuel growth, reach customers, and build better products.”