In this edition of the VR Files, we’re exploring what it looks like to work in a virtual world for a full workweek. VR pioneer, Paul Tomlinson, provides an excellent case study of what this world could be like (and not just for people who are already into VR.) In Tomlinson’s viral blog post, he aptly quotes Puck saying, “People saying: ‘It can’t be done,’ are always being interrupted by somebody doing it.”
Still, we will investigate if the criticisms of VR workspaces are valid. Back in 2019, I wrote about members of the Google Daydream team discovering significant benefits associated with creating VR assets while engaged in a virtual reality space.
Fast forward to today, we want to consider—are there any significant benefits for business professionals to engage in a virtual space or application, rather than completing the task or activity in the real world, using 2D legacy workstations and laptop computers?
Can having a Meta Quest2 headset in your carry-on travel luggage be a viable substitute for packing the laptop computer or checking in to a coworking space to complete a day's activities? Paul Tomlinson’s recent article provides some insight.
Full-time in VR
Last fall, Paul Tomlinson posted a blog about working full-time in VR, and it turned a lot of heads. The article gained Tomlinson attention from TIME magazine (which he got to do an interview with) as well as multiple independent podcast interviews. The blog, titled Working from Orbit: VR Productivity in (or Above) a WFA World, talks about his experience doing real work in programming and information systems development on virtual screens. A poignant quote shares,
“Right now, Virtual Reality is at its ‘1980’s beige noise machine’ [referencing the first consumer desktop computers] stage: a geek cynosure and a consumer novelty. What’s coming will look very different from what’s here; nevertheless, the DNA is already taking shape and it’s not going to take another 40 years to change the world.”
Tomlinson shared that in VR, while work is still work and meetings are still a thing, the features that keep Tomlinson coming back to a VR workday are cost, comfort, and productivity. Using a regular laptop, an Oculus Quest 2, and a software called Immersed, Tomlinson has a virtual workspace with up to five monitors and a see- through option to the “real world.” The full article goes into lots of detail regarding Tomlinson’s set-up, what his day-to-day looks like, tips working in VR, and the pros and cons of a VR workspace. It’s definitely worth a read.
We also shared a bit about Jim’s lifestyle working in VR in a past blog post that you can read here.
While Tomlinson talks about using Immersed, Jim is a big fan of the vSpatial application which serves a very similar purpose. vSpatial is Jim’s app of choice for creating futuristic virtual reality collaboration and productivity workspace for Meta Quest 2 and other VR headset owners.
As Tomlinson mentioned though, we are just at the beginning of VR and there are lots of ways forward. Many apps are competing for market share when it comes to virtual workspaces. Check out this recent article from Input Magazine to read about the nine best apps to get started working in VR. vSpatial and Immersed are both mentioned, as well as other interesting tools like Noda, a mindmapping and brainstorming application. Whether you’re ready or not, virtual workspaces are coming to replace our work-from-home world.
Paul Tomlinson, Application Architect for Grant Street Group
Tomlinson is a self-described, "happy technologist, physicist, and family man, with a penchant for VR and neuropsychology." He’s pioneering the way for others to find a home working in VR, regardless of their field. Give Tomlinson a follow on LinkedIn to stay in the loop with his perspective on VR and this fastly expanding technology.
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