Homebound, the only clue to landing social relationships is in the imagination. Millions of Spaniards have turned to the internet to stay connected to their personal relationships. Video conferencing is increasing its use these days because of an invisible bug called coronavirus. And the immersive experiences resulting from virtual reality technology serve to send the brain elsewhere. Left to their own devices in a drawer after wearing off the “wow” effect, many owners of these visors have found a new exhaust valve. What changes in social behaviors will they lead to?
Four years ago there was a tremendous rush around virtual reality. “It is the future,” experts in this field went on to say. “This is going to change everything,” others sold.
There was no such revolution and, although masterful experiences have taken place at this time, the adoption of this technology in the domestic world has been slow. Hopefully slow, but nothing outstanding. Analysis firm IDC estimates that virtual reality spending for 2020 will be $ 18.8 billion, reflecting an increase of 78.5% compared to spending in 2019 ($ 10.5 billion). During this unprecedented challenge, virtual reality (VR) offers a solid alternative to video calling, and those who embrace it may choose to maintain virtual communication as a long-term strategy.
The arrival of “Half Life: Alyx”, a new installment in the cult video game saga, has shown the way forward for the VR industry. An industry that already has in its hand, for the moment, its flagship title. Available for the main virtual reality devices for computers (Valve Index, Oculus, HTC Vive…), the experience has even served for education. To teach mathematical formulas by the ability to interact with the (virtual) furniture available in the game. Packed with first-person shooter and puzzle action, this experience sets a turning point in the industry, demonstrating its capabilities to take advantage of the language and narrative of virtual reality.
But, regardless of the entertainment experiences that appear, there are those who are using the viewers to make virtual meetings -like the possibilities offered by Facebook Horizon, scheduled for this year- and for video calls during business hours. To be there, even if not physically. To appear but continue to maintain the forms. Virtual reality offers multiple solutions to maintain company activity while minimizing health risks for employees. This technology enables the creation of interactive and collaborative teleworking environments.
In this sense, the company Two Reality has developed an immersive service that allows virtual reality meetings and conferences to reach high levels of interaction, non-verbal communication and immersive capacity among its participants. In this sense, from MeetinVR, a Danish company, they affirm that there is an increase of 25% in attention when a virtual meeting is held compared to videoconferencing. “VR allows creating avatars of each one of the attendees and they become shorter, less confusing and much more decisive than videoconferences, allowing everyone to interact on the same 3D content and avoiding 100% the risk of contagion,” he explains. in a statement Giovanni Cetto, founder of Two Reality.
Faced with this alarm situation that has led to the cancellation of numerous mass events, interest in virtual reality has grown. And there are different tools to maintain activities. Companies such as the Asturian “startup” Virtway offer the possibility to fair organizers around the world to create a virtual 3D version of their event so that all companies that have canceled their attendance, or are thinking of canceling it, can participate through their mobile devices accessing a virtual platform.
“Virtual reality applications are constantly evolving, and you no longer only think of them for entertainment environments, but there is a great opportunity to explore in the events, meetings and fairs sector,” José said in a statement. Antonio Tejedor, CEO and founder of Virtway. From the firm they assure ABC that they have noticed a greater interest, more visits, more traffic, more requests and more varied in recent weeks, coinciding with the confinement of the population.
Something similar is the Engage VR proposal, which proposes a virtual training system that allows connecting up to fifty people at the same time remotely. Available for the Oculus device, rumii is a virtual-social reality space that allows people to collaborate and communicate in a room from anywhere in the world as if they were all in the same physical location. Another example is found in meetingRoom, service allows people to work with each other using meeting room facilities such as interactive whiteboards.
And also in tele-education, although in this field there are still few experiences. The lack of material and the existing social gap in Spain in educational matters does not give enough to establish virtual classes. But it is something on the table. Because different proposals for this purpose have begun to emerge. Like VR Angel, developed by the Spanish firm Kuantiko Studios, which has created a software developed that allows a group of students to connect through virtual reality glasses to a remote class tutored by their teacher, who controls at all times where is the attention of your students. In this way, through teleeducation and «e-learning», «they could continue teaching classes» in schools and thus «help children not fall behind with the educational program», they point out from the company.
But the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is also wreaking havoc on the sector. Several American firms, The Void (owned by Disney), Sandbox VR or Two Bit Circus have temporarily ceased their activity to comply with government demands to curb the contagion curve. Solutions for exceptional moments. .