The social media giant Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is rolling out a “personal boundary” system to its Horizon virtual reality experiences, aiming to stop sexual harassment in Virtual Reality (VR) platforms.
The new feature is enabled by default in the Horizon Worlds creation platform and the Horizon Venues live event service. It builds an invisible virtual barrier around avatars, preventing other people from being too intimidating, although users can still stretch their arms out to give someone a fist-bump or high five.
The immersive platform’s latest function creates a ring of space around users’ digital proxies, allowing them to socialize digitally. This comes after cases of harassment reported in the news, on social media, and in blog posts.
“A personal boundary prevents anyone from invading your avatar’s personal space. If someone tries to enter one’s personal boundary, the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary,” Horizon Vice President Mr. Vivek Sharma said.
The new feature builds upon Horizon’s existing anti-harassment feature that makes an avatar’s hands vanish if it tries to inappropriately touch another virtual character, according to its creator. Meta opened its Horizon Worlds virtual reality platform to the public in North America in December, in a step toward building its metaverse vision for the future.
According to Meta, the feature will help to set behavioral norms, which is important for a relatively new medium like VR. In the future, Meta will explore the possibility of adding in new controls and UI changes, like letting people customize the size of their Personal Boundary, the company added.