Virtual reality: A place to meet

The virtual reality world is growing in leaps and bounds. Just a few years ago, Facebook acquired Oculus VR, a virtual reality software and hardware company. In spring 2020, the company began selling enterprise-edition Oculus solutions that make corporate collaboration and sharing processes affordable and easy through the use of virtual reality.

It is often said virtual reality has the future. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Oculus has a good chance of evolving as the most important social platform of the future.

Why reality can’t be virtual

The phrase Virtual Reality does sound like an oxymoron. And yet, this technology can replace many things that we use in the real world. For example, using a VR app, one can watch a soccer match taking place in a stadium while staying physically at home.

Oculus systems can be used in many areas. They can connect a teacher with students or a patient with a doctor. Wherever you based are physically, you can put on a headset and do something you couldn’t do before, such as go to see a doctor whose practice is located in another part of the world.

VR is immersive – and that’s where its great value is. A user can enjoy any places, views, or events without leaving home. The new way of communication has already captured the hearts of people and businesses around the world. According to an optimistic scenario for the sector’s development, it will grow 11 times over the next four years.

Picking a VR device

What does it take to create virtual reality? This technology is usually realized in a device supported by software. The device may take numerous forms and sizes, from goggles to huge helmets. The device can be wired, wireless or mobile. The VR devices can be differentiated based on several characteristics, including the depth of immersion, comfort and content delivery format. Other important characteristics include viewing angle, interpupillary distance and focal settings. These properties are rarely taken into account although they are responsible for extra comfort. For example, a viewing angle of 110º will be much more comfortable than a viewing angle of 80–85º. The interpupillary distance can be adjusted to make it possible for all members of a group to use the device.

Make sure to check the depth of immersion and controllers. The former creates a more believable immersion through position tracking; the latter helps to achieve even higher credibility by adapting your moves to VR.

Most groundbreaking achievements in VR industry

More than 40 companies in Russia are involved in VR technology development. This market is currently worth $150 mio. Multiple-person meetings are considered the most advanced achievement in virtual reality. For example, many banks already practice virtual meetings among their employees. Sberbank holds remote meetings in the VR mode that allows outlining people’s basic moves. Meeting participants can also create and participate in surveys, and talk to each other in private.

Alfa Bank has gone even further, offering VR solutions to its clients. For instance, people who want to get a mortgage loan now can view their future apartment using a VR headset, which helps them make a decision.

Of course, market giants like Sberbank and Alfa Bank do not currently have competition, but in a year or so we will see new smaller players with the same technologies. VR meetings have a huge potential because they will make it possible to move the largest part of the world to the virtual space without losing quality.

Among the most advanced achievements of VR technology are the built-in eye-tracking and facial expression reconstruction (measuring eye direction and concentrating near that center spot and thereby reducing detail elsewhere), as well as real world mapping, that is, adding new 3D elements in the virtual space.

VR platforms for working meetings and conferences

It is important to be able to organize work process regardless of market conditions. VR platforms allow for holding meetings and conferences similar to real-world events.

VirBELA, one of the simplest platforms offering powerful graphics and the possibility to customize the avatar, has gained popularity among users. It operates on both PC and VR devices and allows for bringing together a large number of people.

Altspace is another simple and user-friendly platform where you can create your own avatar. The platform is used to hold meetings where participants can move, speak and use gestures.

The Mozilla Hubs platform offers simplified avatars yet high quality graphics. The platform, however, starts to lag in case the number of meeting attendants exceeds 25-30.

Platforms with option for video conferencing

These are platforms that are more complicated yet easy to use for beginners. The Spaces platform offers high quality live streams but simplified graphics. This platform is a perfect solution for those who choose communication quality over graphics features, and works for both VR devices and desktops. You can also integrate Spaces into such services as Zoom.

MootUp, a very simple and convenient platform for a small number of users, features simplified graphics as well as fast response time and can be used on simple mobile gadgets. MootUp can be launched from a browser.

If you seek high quality graphics, you should consider a VR chat, which is a perfect solution for those willing not only to talk but also share videos. You can change settings for platform contents, which are on par with photorealistic graphics. VR chat runs on Windows or on the latest versions of VR gadgets. Although developers say the platform can be used by multiple people at the same time, they warn that image and communication quality may degrade in case it is simultaneously used by over 50 people.       

By Christina Firsova

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