The universal transition to VR: still early
Consumer virtual reality has seen rapid growth in the past decade with a number of headsets appearing from a plethora of companies around the world. The hype about Zuckerberg’s metaverse strategic focus is also one that has dominated trends across the board, particularly in relation to the Horizon Worlds workrooms for remote collaboration. VR is more accessible than ever, but the pressing question remains:
At what point will people in the workplace start working fully in VR headsets? Is 2022 the year when it all comes together?
It would seem that all we need to do is develop a virtual environment that mimics the familiar workplace, and we’re done. But this is not entirely true due to a number of issues that come with the use and application of VR in the working environment.
Disadvantages of working in VR
Let’s look at why we shouldn’t expect a full transition to VR in the coming years.
The main disadvantage of the VR environment is the low resolution of the picture itself. For example, the Oculus headset has a resolution of 2160*1200 pixels, which makes small inscriptions and numbers unreadable. Therefore, the work in a VR helmet will be energy-intensive and inefficient, because to see anything you have to bring the desktop as close to you as possible.
Creating multiple desktops in VR is great if you play games. You can play a game and bring a Youtube window right into it to listen to music or watch something, but that only applies well to gameplay.
Developers are trying to fix the resolution problem as quickly as possible, and new models of headsets are already increasing the number of pixels, but not much higher than the numbers already mentioned.
Low mobility and comfort. In sci-fi movies, for example, you can clearly detect the difference between a fictional helmet and an actual helmet. The models from the movies are lightweight, fit comfortably on the head and are often used without wires. Real models differ in their actual size; the average weight is about half a kilogram. Some models have no ventilation, and the glasses are periodically fogged making it uncomfortable for users and thus not ideal for longer periods of time.
Again, if you watch movies or play gaming sessions for 3-5 hours, you will definitely be able to tolerate some discomfort. Nevertheless, to endure 8-12 hours of work day in a VR helmet without taking it off is extremely difficult.
Problems with printing and typing. Since the user can’t see the actual keyboard, it feels like typing in the air. If you are not skilled in blind typing, a second problem appears – a lack of feedback. The virtual keyboard uses only a cursor, whereas when typing on a regular mechanical keyboard, we control the force of the keys and the speed of writing. In 2020 Oculus announced hand tracking for its helmet, but the principle of operation has not changed.
In this case, we should expect the appearance of special gloves that will give a normal response when you press the virtual keyboard, or equipping helmets with special cameras that will allow you to see the real keyboard.
There is also the issue of broken TV screens resulting from VR – damages that may add up in the longer term, especially for businesses with hundreds of employees shifting to VR.
Nevertheless, immersive technologies have gained their place in the market, every year the total number of investments in the development of new devices and software is growing and so it is likely that a transition to VR is likely to occur in the next five to ten years. Companies producing VR headsets strive to optimize and simplify the process of controlling devices to make virtual reality work more mobile and convenient.
Will VR in the workplace shift in 2022? It is unlikely, but companies will commence experimenting and slowly integrating VR into various business processes. In the educational space, for example in Russia, schools are already starting to integrate VR into the school curriculum. In the corporate world, company-wide implementation is happening in rare instances and in those companies that have the budget and strategy in place for it. As it stands, it is far from widespread in the year 2022.