How virtual reality is transforming videoconferencing
In today’s global business world, collaboration is a must. Right now, high-definition video conferencing is the next best thing to having everyone together in the same room – but virtual reality (VR) could transform the way we collaborate.
Virtual Reality (VR) has already made a splash in the gaming industry, where participants can race, battle and hunt for treasure in vivid 360-degree digital landscapes. VR videoconferencing runs with the same idea, placing participants in a computer-generated environment where they see digital representations – also known as avatars – of themselves and other team members moving around inside a virtual space.
Why is this better? VR would take collaboration to the next level by incorporating non-verbal cues like hand gestures and interpersonal distance into their design.
VR’s biggest players are already working on this. Microsoft, for example, is developing 3D capture technology called ‘holoportation’ that scans the bodies of users in real time, allowing each person to transmit an accurate virtual clone of themselves – eye contact and all. Think the holograms in Star Wars, without the actual holograms.
Building on the present
In the race to cut business travel costs, speed up collaboration and pollute less, VR and video conferencing are a perfect match.
The latest 2D video conferencing systems already make it possible to join a conference from just about any place with just about any device, thanks to their integration with mobile and cloud technology. VR adds the ability to meet in 3D, improving the sense of ‘presence’ with only a modest requirement for extra equipment (a headset and, perhaps, a device to run it).
In other words, just as people can now use their phones to text, talk and chat over video, technology is on the horizon that will allow us to meet in VR just as spontaneously. It seems inevitable that VR will find a place in every business activity that requires human connection and collaboration – not just in the executive boardroom, but also in design, training, medicine, and more.
The future of VR videoconferencing
As VR technology gets smaller and more powerful, it will also become less visible and more socially acceptable. According to the 2016 Dell & Intel Future-Ready Workforce Study, more than half of all employees are willing to not only embrace workspace transformation but believe technology will make face-to-face interactions obsolete.
In a global business world where these face-to-face meetings still have immense value, VR video conferencing is likely to play an indispensable role.