I received my long-awaited Oculus Rift virtual reality headset last week and, as immersive and amazing as games and other experiences are, there is one aspect which really caught my imagination and fascination and I am left truly awestruck by it.
It is difficult to convey in words what an experience this was. The fundamental premise of BigScreenVR is you are transported to a stylish house with multiple seating locations — outside balcony overlooking a city skyscape, the kitchen, the lounge room — or even, if you prefer, a canyon or foreign planet.
So far, this is "regular" social networking in virtual reality — itself an impressive experience — but where BigScreenVR really sets itself apart is that your actual computer desktop is represented right in front of you.
You can enlarge, shrink, curve, move and generally manipulate your desktop for the most comfortable and engrossing experience. You then literally do anything on your desktop you can do, well, on your desktop. This includes playing Minecraft, writing emails, browsing the Web, doing your taxes, making a presentation, watching a movie or anything else.
Your fellow BigScreenVR attendees can, likewise, use their desktops. And you can see their desktops, and they can see yours. In VR space you literally see heads moving as they browse your screen, or turn towards you to talk in positional 3D audio.
Click a button and your desktop is projected onto the massive TV screen in each room, allowing a collective experience together. Sit back and watch a movie. Or sit back and gather around a PowerPoint presentation on sales performance.
Here's where BigScreenVR really impressed me. I have spent hours — oh so many hours — on GoToMeetings and other teleconference systems. Yet, no matter how engaging anyone tries to make a remote conference, it is always easy to be distracted. Yet, with BigScreenVR the action is all around your eyes. You are literally in the room together, despite being separated across the world and in different timezones.
While the technology still has to evolve — at this time pretty beefy PC specs are needed to make it run, and the text isn't so crisp that you can comfortably read Arial 10pt font in Microsoft Word — it is clear to me this is the future of remote working.
Your office workers can be anywhere in the world, but yet collaborate in the same space. Diagnose problems by looking over someone's shoulder at their screen. Speak and see immediately who is speaking. Put information on the big screen for an impromptu or planned meeting. The tyranny of distance, the scourge of distractions, and the problems of collaboration are resolved by having your own virtual meeting space.
I was truly impressed and I strongly urge you to check it yourself if you have the opportunity.
The future is happening around us; along with self-driving cars becoming a reality, so too is the possibility of actually useful and viable virtual business.