Creating The Future AR/VR Office Via Team-Building Games
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
The advent of personal computers and smartphones has drastically changed our lives and the same will be true for AR and VR glasses. Predictions, however, are error-prone which is why we’ve focussed on a near-term strategy that will help us realize our long-term goal. In this post, I’ll share a flavor of what we’re aiming for and how we plan to get there.
Let me start by painting a picture of what this future would look like. First, instead of giving you a computer monitor, your employer would give you an AR or VR headset to work in. You'd be able to carry four 70" screens in your pocket and take your ideal office wherever you go, whether you work from the comfort of your own home, an in-person office, or the airplane seat I’m writing this from.
This means you'll be able to teleport yourself in and out of your office simply by donning a pair of AR/VR spectacles. You'll be able to work on multiple huge curved screens and move them around with your hands Tony-Stark-style.
The best part is that while you're working in your virtual office, you can turn to the side and chat with your teammate who’d be virtually working next to you. It would feel as though you’re sitting in the same real office!
On top of that, you can roundup some colleagues and seamlessly play any game you can imagine such as zombie space shooters, or the classic round of VR table tennis.
After playing a game, you might feel the need to do some deep work. Instead of teleporting back to the open-plan office, you'll enter a distraction-free private space station orbiting earth and work from there. You'll be able to select which aspects of your real surroundings to observe, and which parts you want to replace with virtual content. With the outward-facing cameras on headsets such as the Oculus Quest, you can already get a taste of this.
In this virtual world, any goofy or productive tweak that you can imagine is possible. The working environment will soon experience some really creative changes! This future, however, is still a while away and for us the pressing question is where to get started today?
Currently, a few inspiring startups are working on really impressive collaboration tech for AR and VR:
Spatial.io has built some excellent collaboration tools, especially for the HoloLens.
Immersed lets you work in VR from any of your devices.
And Glue is the meeting and whiteboarding space of the future.
Nevertheless, very few people let alone companies actually have VR headsets at the moment, so why would they start using VR collaboration tools? The friction of donning a headset, starting the right app, and joining a call is still much too high to compete with the one-click ease of Zoom links. For VR to become the default collaboration medium we first need to be working in VR. But, we cannot work in VR because the hardware isn’t ready yet; we won’t have decent AR spectacles for at least the next 3 years and VR headsets are still too uncomfortable and strain your eyes when reading text.
To overcome the hurdles mentioned above and in the spirit of Tesla's secret letter we’ve adopted the following strategy. We plan to leverage the headsets for what they are already really good at, gaming, to help companies serve their current need of maintaining a fun and engaged culture with distributed teams. Headsets are shipped to each teammate and along with guiding participants through entertaining team-based games, we show them how much more engaging and productive the work environment can be with AR and VR. By the time they realize the benefits, our fully-fledged virtual company campus is ready for their team to work, collaborate, and play together from anywhere in the world. And it goes without saying that all free cash flow will be plowed back into making better productivity software and eventually better hardware to improve the state of AR.
Our long-term bet is on AR, not VR. As mentioned in The Infinite Retina, people will likely have different headsets for different scenarios. They might have a lightweight completely see-through AR pair for walking around in public (e.g., Apple smart glasses), and a larger pair that allows them to feel more immersed in their target destination. Nevertheless, AR and VR technology will merge eventually with the difference already being quite nebulous. Headsets such as the Oculus Quest are already getting quite close to what we envision for the future of AR, and it’s here now.
With these Quest headsets, we've already enjoyed building team-building games and virtual office spaces for our fully distributed team and our early access customers. Our mission is to build the future office for AR and VR while making it fun. Reach out to see just how fun we’re making it!