Virtual reality (VR) is one of the fastest growing technologies today. Many tech companies are joining forces to provide quality VR experiences to their customers. But what about simulating a day at work in VR? GamesBeat writer Jeff Grubb did exactly that, using Virtual Desktop, an upcoming PC program that allows anyone with a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headset to emulate their desktop in the VR world. To truly understand how VR is making an impact today, it’s essential to realize that many emerging technologies require a lot of trial and error and that most of today’s tech products are for consumer use rather than business use.
One of the most popular uses right now for VR is entertainment—people are using the technology to create movies and support cutting-edge video games. Sega tried their hand at VR as far back as 1993 with the Sega VR. However, as with most technology ahead of its time, there were numerous technical issues—users reported motion sickness and severe headaches, and the VR headset never reached consumers. Their bitter rival, Nintendo, also tried its hand at VR with the Virtual Boy, but the red and black color scheme had similar effects (not to mention caused a lot of eye strain). Unlike the Sega VR, the Virtual Boy made it to market, but failed because of the aforementioned effects.
Fast forward to 2016, and technology has advanced to the point where things once confined to science fiction TV series or films are now a reality. As a fellow writer, I agree that it may sound absurd to spend an entire workday in VR, but using virtual reality for work may become actual reality one day. With the rapid advances in technology, “one day” could mean as early as the end of this very decade.
Advantages of using Virtual Desktop with a VR headset are that you can adjust your screen to take up your field of view, you can use voice commands to do some basic functions and the platform supports multiple monitors. As far as drawbacks go, these headsets don’t have ultra-high resolutions yet (2160 x 1200 resolution, or 1080 x 1200 per eye), so if you’re looking for 4K, you might have to wait until the next iteration. But for now, one might have to adjust the windows to account for one’s field of vision, requiring users to movie their heads far more than the average office worker.
Another benefit that could happen down the line is the integration of VR with video conferencing. Meetings are part of any workday, and if people are working with teams in multiple countries, it could allow for increased collaboration and teamwork without the stress (and expense) of travel. One of the big issues is interoperability—one office could have HTC Vives and the other could have Microsoft HoloLenses. A unifying operating system for VR headsets could be a solution that could allow additional segments of the workday to be done in VR, rather than just the writing, editing and gaming Grubb did with his demonstration. It’s certainly possible that an entire day’s worth of work could be spent and conducted in VR if these products become more intended for business use rather than consumer use. Some re-purposing of these VR headsets may be necessary for it to become a vital part of the workday, rather than a cool novelty.