Staying Connected: The Role of VR in Atypical Circumstances

March 19 2020

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In the thick of our COVID-19 troubles, many businesses and individuals are realizing one thing in particular. We’re not ready to work and maintain our businesses remotely.

Many shops have initiated free shipping and curb-side pickup. Numerous factories have shut down altogether. Corporations are warily testing the waters of remote working, having never truly tried it before.

From the uncertainty has arisen an interest in revamping companies and organizations to be remote friendly. COVID-19 has shown us just how reliant we are on in-person collaboration; but we don’t need to be.

Collaboration

It’s true that no roundabout solution will ever be quite like meeting with someone in person. However, it can be close. The world has been moving toward remote communication for ages.

Once upon a time, our client base was mostly local because telephones were rare and there was only so much you could put in a telegram.

Now, the world is our oyster. We can live in North America and easily have customers in China (aside from the time difference).

There’s nothing holding us back from communicating effectively and efficiently. So why are we all struggling with the restrictions that have come with COVID-19? Why are some companies stumbling as they’re forced to work remote?

In light of the stress COVID-19 has put on businesses, more and more people are looking for a new solution. Today, the best and greatest solution that we have for recreating real experiences is VR.

Over the past few years, numerous apps and software have been released to facilitate business collaboration. For example, Glue is a modern platform where you can meet and communicate with your colleagues. In the app, simulations mimic your gestures and move their mouth in pace with your voice.

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You can even share presentations and prototypes in most VR collaboration applications. The software is improving by the month, progressing toward making the perfect product to help companies function remotely.

Automotive

Nearly all companies in the automotive industry use VR in their designing process. Christian Baur, BMW’s Head of Mini Interior Design, says:

“The BMW group […] have development activities all over the world. Therefore, we have the need for VR collaboration […]. The new technology helps us to display our surfaces earlier in a different stage and to see what is happening in different surroundings if you sit inside the car.”

BWM VR Color

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By using VR, BMW workers are still able to be quite productive while working remotely, away from their team. The company’s designers are able to collaborate back and forth on the design of their vehicles until they get it just right, even if they’re quarantined at home.

Social

With new technology often comes new ways to socialize.

Along with the internet came early versions of MSN, which, back then, was best known for its instant messaging platform. Not long after, came Facebook.

One of the reasons World of Warcraft was such a big, online hit when it came out was because players could team up with friends to conquer bosses and other challenges.

Therefore, it’s not unbelievable to hear that there are now VR apps that simulate parties, lazy gaming nights, quiet home gatherings, and more.

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Image source: Bigscreen TV

There are already tons of multiplayer VR games. Take OrbusVR: Reborn for example. It’s a “a world brimming with thousands of other players.” Alongside World of Warcraft, OrbusVR offers opportunities to collaborate with teammates to defeat the game’s quests. The main difference is that you get to play Orbus in virtual reality.

Before long there won’t be many experiences you can’t try, and try alongside your friends, through VR.

Health

Clinics and hospitals worldwide have been closing their doors to non-emergency cases. Even people who are infected with COVID-19 are advised to stay home unless their symptoms become more extreme. If their symptoms escalate, they’re advised to call a hotline where a health specialist can guide them through the next steps toward getting care.

By the end of the day, people are running out of options to get the health support they need.

In response to these health care restrictions, XRHealth has begun creating VR support groups for people with health concerns. Using a VR headset, users can sign into support groups full of people with the same ailments and symptoms that they have.

On top of getting peer support from people just like them, XRHealth doctors sign in regularly to check on the members, adding expert advice to the mix.

XRHealth is responding to the COVID-19 situation and releasing their VR software sooner than they’d originally planned. They’re just one of the VR companies who are jumping in with a solution to help people stay remote and stay healthy.

Fitness

Aside from making sure you’re taken care of medically, some other companies are focusing on VR workouts and fitness training. Gyms have shut down in lieu of COVID-19, leaving their frequent customers stuck at home.

However, fitness with VR is so entertaining that people might not want to go back to the gym. Instead of working out in a never-changing gym, VR Fitness Insider recommends some VR games for your workout.

VR Fitness Insider says Beat Saber, a game where the user swings around katanas to strike objects in sync with the tune playing, provides an excellent cardio workout.

There’s even a game that simulates boxing called BoxVR. A bit like Beat Saber, the user uses their fists to strike objects in time to a beat but have to duck away from larger obstacles without much warning.

Conclusion

For years, we’ve been waiting for VR to reach a level where it can actually be useful; where it can feel real. The truth is, we just reached that point.

If you’ve had a chance to try a modern VR set, you’d have seen that virtual reality can look as real as the program designer bothers to make it. Just like with any video game or simulation, the more time a developer puts into making their graphics as accurate as possible, the more believable the game's world is.

The technology we have today is capable of so much. Have a look at Tesla’s haptic suit. The suit provides haptic feedback, making the wearer feel like they’re touching something that isn’t real. The wearer can feel heat, cold, impact, and even simulated, external touch.

For example, with a haptic suit, you could feel when you take a punch in the VR boxing game, Creed: Rise to Glory. Don’t worry; it won’t hurt as much as a real punch, but you’ll still know you got hit.

At this point, we’re all just sitting around waiting for apps to get better. We’re waiting for more games to upscale their graphics or integrate haptics.

Since COVID-19 has more or less barricaded us from seeing people face to face, there’s been a huge push for VR solutions. More resources and interest are being put toward making VR a viable solution of the future.

Along with this urgency will come better apps and games. Now is a great time to jump aboard and get into VR yourself: the technology of the future.

WRITTEN BY

Melanie Leon

Content Marketer

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