Virtual Reality has been around for ages, but it never reached anywhere near true potential until recently as prices and computing power improved. Sega even nearly introduced the SEGA VR headset before cancelling it in 1991, one of the reasons due to the VR effect being too realistic which might cause injury. Nobody believed that. The technology was just not advanced enough at that time.
But it is pretty close now (at least that’s what futurists and tech firms involved in it are saying) and which is why we hear so much of it during company town hall meetings or when people talk about the future of work.
However, despite the reduction of price, the availability of far more powerful computing power, and a much larger potential pool of users (especially in business and gaming), let’s just call it for what it is — VR is still not quite ready for mass use the way it is made out to be.
The Hard Truth
For the sake of productivity and increase of sales, we’re ready to believe in almost everything. Remember Augmented Reality (AR)? Remember how it too was expected to shake how marketing and business in general is done? I once worked in a media company which jumped on the AR bandwagon and put in a fair amount of resources just to market a new product, but failed spectacularly. In hindsight, VR was a distraction and the money and time wasted should have gone to the product instead.
Speed is a concern. As accessible processing power are nowadays, one simply cannot boot up a virtual reality rig for a meet as quickly as making a video conferencing call, more so a regular call.
A study in Germany to look at the effects of VR use over long periods of time points out how it resulted in “significantly worse ratings across most measures.” It was not even comfortable with two participants dropping out on the first day due to migraine, nausea, and anxiety. On the other hand, instances of discomfort and simulator sickness did become lesser for the rest in the test group.
But the Tech is Ready and Available… Indeed, virtual reality has a place at the workplace. It’s a great tool to show, for example, the interior design pitch by a designer; VR is a visual instrument after all. Some factories have long used it to help with training too, where workers practise the work needed virtually first — possibly seeing any potential problems that may arise beforehand — before going down to the assembly line.