Spending directly related to the meeting industry is valued at $280.40 billion in the United States alone. This massive industry is set to be completed changed by virtual reality (VR) technology. Through what is referred to as telepresence, geographical distance will no longer be an issue, as people can meet and interact no matter where-ever are in the world.
Why VR Will Completely Change Meetings
There is currently no perfect solution to conduct meetings for colleagues who are not in the same geographical location. Conference calls and Skype meetings do not perfectly replicate the experience of being in the same physical space as for colleagues. Virtual reality could could prove to be the breakthrough that allows people to interact with colleagues and clients as if they were in the same space.
This could see the end of employees having to commute into an office to join internal meetings and travelling salespeople will be able to conduct sales presentations through a virtual reality environment. Networking events, seminars and conferences will likewise be able to held in virtual reality.
The technology will like be for many years a relatively poor simulation of meeting in person, but over time it is inevitably going to improve, eventually creating an experience which is completely identical to real life.
Below are some of the specific ways that virtual reality is disrupting and transforming the meeting industry today.
Facebook Takes On VR Meetings
At the recent Oculus Connect conference Facebook showcased its new virtual reality chat technology. CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated how Facebook was making it possible for people to conduct meetings over the internet through the use of virtual reality avatars. Facebook is working hard to develop avatars which are able to mimic human emotions through the use of VR emojis. The demonstration was impressive in two different aspects. Firstly it shows just how close we are to having technology to conduct virtual reality meeting with friends and family and colleagues. It also demonstrates the level of investment that is being put in VR meeting technology.
AltspaceVR Slack Integration
One of the leaders in the virtual reality meeting technology is the startup AltspaceVR. The company recently integrated with the uber popular business messaging service Slack. Through Slack users can quickly send links to their friends and pull them into an AltspaceVR room where they can conduct a virtual reality meeting.
To invite users to an AltspaceVR room they simply need to use the /vrcall command followed by the name of the room that they want to create. The AltspaceVR creates the room and post a link onto slack. Provided that the other person has AltspaceVR installed on the computer and they will be pulled into the room that has been created. Currently users can enter the room using a VR headset like Samsung Gear VR or the Oculus Rift, or through their PC.
Increased Collaboration Through VR
Virtual Reality will make it much easier for people to collaborate on projects. In a recent demonstration of the technology researchers at the NYU media research lab used Samsung Gear VR to allow researchers to meet in a virtual reality environment using digital avatars.
Using hand-held electronic wands they were able to collaborate drawing 3-D models together. The applications for this type of collaboration is diverse. VR technology has been used by BAE Systems engineers in the construction of UK Royal Naval vessels. Using VR these engineers are able to work on the same project together while working from different parts of the UK.
Sharing Data With VR
In line with collaboration is the ability to quickly shared data with your co-workers in a virtual reality space. Virtual reality can quickly display complex streams of data and allow users to manipulate them. This could potentially make it much faster to create and analyse data. Citibank has already trialed the VR technology to assist financial traders who are dealing with complex streams of data.
The Impact On Seminars And Conferences From VR
Seminars and conferences are a great way to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry, network with other industry members. But the expense and time to attend these events can make attending challenging. Virtual reality will allow people to attend seminars and conferences virtually, and have the same type of experience as if they were really there. Virtual Reality will not only allow people to attend conferences, but to control the way that they consume information when they are there. Presenters will be able to deliver information through virtual reality. Users will have complete control how they interact with this experience, delving deeper into information that they find interesting, and passing over elements that are of less interest.
Using Augmented Reality (AR) For Meetings
Augmented or mixed reality allows you to open a visual of into a real-life environment. In the context of meeting office will allow people to do is to put on an augmented reality set by Microsoft quietly and then see the person that they are meeting with in the same physical space even if that person is many miles away. This is a type of hollo quotation which are a huge number of applications. People were travelling on business for example will be able to attend meetings back in the Home Office even when they are out on the road.
Improving VR Communication For Meetings
For VR to be widely adopted for meetings it will be necessary to improve the ability to express emotion. Much of the communication between people is non-verbal in nature. Technologies like Skype and Facebook time have made it easy for people to use video calling to to not only hear what other people are saying but to see them as well. While this technology works well for one to one communication it is generally less effective when there are multiple participants in the meeting.
As virtual reality technology improves it will be easier to provide non-verbal communication. It’s important to remember that non-verbal communication goes beyond simple facial expressions but also the way that we hold our body, and the distance that we place ourselves from other people. Looking even further forward virtual reality will also likely introduce other elements such as touch and smell. Adding these other human sense will make VR meetings seem even more lifelike.
Why VR Is Likely To Be Adopted For Meetings
According to a recent study by Dell it was found that 57% of employees prefer to conduct face-to-face meetings. What was interesting though was that half of those who were surveyed said that they thought that in-person meetings would be unnecessary if communications technology was improved.
Challenges currently facing virtually for meetings are similar to those of other VR experiences. High-end handsets which provide the best virtual reality experience are relatively expensive and not in common use. Virtual Reality doesn’t currently offer anywhere near the same level of experience as an actual in-person meeting. Despite these challenge virtual reality technology is improving quickly. Billions of dollars are being invested into the VR by some of the leading tech companies in the world.
The convenience and cost savings of VR meetings will make them an acceptable solution to many in-person meetings. If VR technology continues to improve at its current rate it seems inevitable that we will eventually reach a tipping point where VR meetings are an identical experience to meeting in person.