Meta added a “Personal Boundary System” to his metaverse to limit annoyances in virtual reality. The new feature is enabled by default on the Horizon Worlds platform and live streaming service Horizon Venues. She creates an invisible virtual barrier around the avatars, preventing other people from getting too close to them. However, users can still reach for high-five or fist.
The “Personal Boundaries” system builds on an existing feature that can remove an avatar’s arms if they get too close to another user. According to Meta, the new feature gives each user a virtual 24-inch radius of personal space, creating the equivalent of 4 feet between avatars. Meta spokesperson Kristina Milian confirmed that as the system is designed to set standard norms for how people interact in virtual reality, users cannot turn off their personal boundaries. However, future changes may allow users to customize the size of the radius.
If someone tries to approach or teleport into someone else’s avatar, their movement will be stopped. However, Meta has devised a mechanism to prevent users from using their borders to prevent or trap other denizens of the metaverse from entering.
The changes come into effect two months after Horizon Worlds opened to the public after a long beta period. During that time, at least one user complained that their avatar was being harassed by a stranger. The user stated that he eventually turned on the blocking feature to stop the stalker.
Personal room bubbles are a standard feature on long-established social VR platforms like VRChat and Rec Room, although users can resize them or disable them on these services. Some games like QuiVR, which reported one of the first cases of sexual harassment in virtual reality, also implemented special features that allow users to push away an unwanted avatar.