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Virtual Reality

I experienced virtual reality. Here’s what leaders need to know.

The metaverse is coming.

According to Gartner, by 2026, 25% of people will spend an hour or more a day in virtual reality, and almost a third of companies will offer products or services for the metaverse. In addition, Microsoft Labor Trends Index predicts that half of Gen Z and Gen Y believe they will do some of their work in the Metaverse in the next few years.

The technology is still in its infancy, but the exponential growth rate of the technology means that the world is probably only a few advances away from a snowball of VR applications.

Business leaders need to start paying attention now, tracking progress, and considering how the metaverse can be integrated into their organizations to improve everything from operational efficiency and culture to customer service.

A virtual reality experience

I recently ventured into the world of virtual reality using Microsoft’s HoloLens and Mesh, a mixed reality beta platform. With a small team of technical experts from my company, Centric Consulting, I designed my avatar, experimented with conversations, moved objects around in space, and experimented with collaboration through shared file access and creation.

Was that cool? Without a doubt. Does the technology still need polishing to be ready for mass market use? Also, yes. Below, I dive into what’s working, what needs further development, and what leaders need to know now.

What works: VR for connection, collaboration, frontline workers

Virtual reality has the potential to enhance the virtual or hybrid work and could become another common modality used for connection and collaboration.

Unlike your standard video meeting, virtual reality has fully engaged users, providing a remedy for chronic meeting fatigue and multitasking on remote calls. This is true even if you are in avatar form – your avatar is simulating you. It talks when you talk, moves when you move, and lets you “watch” other meeting participants and interact with virtual objects in the space.

The collaboration could also get a big boost in the metaverse. VR whiteboard apps can replicate the experience of in-person collaboration much better than anything we currently use on a computer. In the metaverse, participants can do anything you would when you’re physically together, like writing and drawing on the whiteboard and adding sticky notes.

Besides knowledge work applications, virtual reality will undoubtedly transform maintenance and support, allowing experienced technicians to easily and efficiently provide remote assistance.

For example, suppose your car stops in a remote location. By tapping into the metaverse, you could have a mechanic climb under the hood with you, resulting in a much faster fix than describing the problem over the phone.

What still needs to be developed: more VR apps, better hardware

While the Metaverse will undoubtedly change the way we work, a few key developments need to take place before the technology is ready for mainstream adoption. Improvements should be made to the following items.

  • Material. My co-experimenters and I experienced headaches, mild motion sickness, or eye strain after using the headsets for a short time. For virtual reality to really take off, hardware needs to become smaller, more comfortable, and integrable into other devices.
  • User interface. We encountered crashes and connectivity issues during our VR meetings. A less clunky and more intuitive user interface is key.
  • Application development. The software itself still needs to be developed. Mesh, for example, is a solid platform with promising raw infrastructure, but there are currently limited applications to use within the platform. This currently limits its business applications.
  • Affordability. The cost of VR hardware is a big hurdle. Commercial pricing is needed to allow businesses to explore the technology and its potential use cases. Meta’s Quest Pro headset, for example, currently costs $1,500.

Companies are already taking steps to correct some of these problems. Microsoft recently announced Mesh for Teams and Microsoft 365 apps for Meta Quest devices and Mesh as a Platform Servicewhich means users have more choices when it comes to accessing the metaverse and an advanced ability to create custom built-in spaces and apps.

Prepare for the VR world

If Gartner is correct that many of us will be spending time in the metaverse in just a few years, business leaders need to start preparing for an explosion of VR applications.

CIOs at manufacturing companies and other organizations with frontline workers should start diving in now, conduct pilot studies, and gain a basic understanding of the technology and how it might fit into the organization in just a few years.

Knowledge business leaders may not yet need to invest in deeper exploration and research, but they should keep an eye out for developments in the metaverse and how technology can solve the problems. client.

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