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Nerd Alert: Does Virtual Reality Have a Home in the Workplace?

Virtual reality is an increasingly hot tech topic. Earlier this year, Facebook dropped $2 billion to acquire virtual reality pioneer Oculus. Samsung, perennial hardware powerhouse, is working up a VR headset of its own. Sony has been demoing its Project Morpheus virtual reality prototype, aimed squarely at gamers. And even Google got in the mix at its annual I/O conference this year, with a cardboard-based, DIY VR setup designed to turn any phone into a virtual reality headset.

While it still sounds like something out of the Matrix, VR is on the cusp of becoming a mainstream reality. But are these simply next-generation toys, or will VR ever have a home in the workplace?

Enabling Immersive Collaboration

The whole point of virtual reality is immersion, placing us into a technology-powered world so encompassing that we forget that we’re not actually there. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the Oculus Rift reaction videos, where people react to the virtual world just as they would the real one:

(There are tons of these videos online, and the reactions are generally so intense that it can hard to find examples with SFW language!)

How could this level of immersion benefit businesses?

On the collaboration front, the pursuit of immersive collaboration is nothing new. Large room-based videoconferencing systems were designed specifically to replicate a conference room setting across distances. The whole point of the technology was for it to be ignored, allowing you to instead focus on the person across from you, just like you were face-to-face, and forget about all of the intricate behind-the-scenes technology powering the meeting.

iMeet® was designed very much with the same ideals in mind. Make collaboration about the people in the room, rather than the technology that makes the room possible.

It’s not hard to imagine entire virtual conference rooms powered by virtual reality, bringing truly immersive collaboration to life by putting you in the same virtual space as your colleagues around the world.

Modeling and Prototyping Across Distances

The boom in 3D printing has shown that there’s an appetite and a market for quick, shareable and easily replicable means of prototyping and sharing design ideas. VR cuts out the physical middleman and lets teams all over the world view and manipulate 3D designs in real-time. It also bridges the gap for designers and artists between 2D and 3D; instead of having to create 3D objects using 2D technology, they can design entirely in three dimensions.

Virtual reality could potentially revolutionize design and manufacturing by allowing for much lower-cost and higher-quality prototyping and design sharing, especially when coupled with 3D printing. Create a design in your virtual workspace, quickly 3D print it to show it around, then rinse and repeat until everyone’s satisfied.

…and the rest

The door is wide open at this point for virtual reality possibilities. The technology is robust enough to be applicable to practically any industry, if we’re creative enough to unlock them. Some examples include:

  • A consultancy is planning on using VR to build a sustainability training that brings the impact of environmental responsibility to life in a way that PowerPoint slides can’t match.
  • Insurance companies have used the technology to mock-up and recreate car crashes in safe environments.
  • Entire virtual trade shows where manufacturers can show-off large, cumbersome equipment without the costs of transportation.
  • Revolutionizing the travel, tourism and real estate industries with immersive, 3D tours and previews of destinations and homes or apartments.

Like many technological innovations, the only limit to its use is our own imaginations. While it might still sound like the stuff of science-fiction, virtual reality is very much on its way, and it’s an exciting time for gamers and businesses alike.

Photo Credit: Sergey Galyonkin

About Joshua Erwin

Josh is a content creator and strategist with a passion for all things tech, such as the latest gadgets, apps, games and more. Josh loves listening to and playing music and is a big college football fan, especially for his alma mater Georgia Bulldogs. When not writing for PGi, you’ll find him gaming or drumming on Sundays for the Atlanta Falcons.

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