I remember when Skype hit the market nearly twenty years ago. For me and many others my age, the emergence of video conferencing was a sci-fi dream come true. Fast forward to 2022, an estimated 300 million people use Zoom every weekday. Digital conferencing has become the norm. So much so that more than a quarter of people under the age of 40 avoid having conversations on the phone. Simply not answering calls is an unexpected solution to annoying telemarketers and stodgy chats with relatives. Kidding aside, it’s incredible how rapidly the communication industry is changing!
Enter VR. Meta’s Horizon Workrooms are designed for meetings and business conversations in a fully-immersive 3D space and are accessed through an Oculus headset. Instead of the games and hangout spaces of Horizon Worlds, Horizon Workrooms is a professional conference room setting. Each workroom space can accommodate up to sixteen avatars and comes equipped with many features for presentations and collaborations. Furthermore, Horizon Workrooms is secure and confidential; conversations and materials shared with the Workrooms VR app are not recorded or used to inform ads on Facebook.
To set up your workroom, you need to:
Get the Horizon Workrooms app
Create an account at https://www.oculus.com/workrooms/
Name your workroom
Pair your headset with an activation code
Pair your PC https://www.oculus.com/desktop/
Scan your desk and keyboard for passthrough
Invite your team
Customize your room, add your logo, and select the table layout
I won’t sugarcoat. It does take some doing. For quick-and-dirty meetings, you can use Horizon Worlds—I have held meetings in a swamp, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and floating in space. Puzzle rooms, speed bonding, and mini-game worlds can pull together a team quickly. However, setting up Horizon Workrooms is worth the extra effort. It’s more professional, and cameras on the outside of your headset render your keyboard on a virtual desktop so you can type, draw, or run a presentation. A whiteboard in each workroom allows you and your team to brainstorm. You can even paste up PostIt Notes. Members who do not have VR headsets can access meetings from a laptop, desktop, tablet, or phone and are present via a screen at the conference table. The PC interface allows you to share assets like slide decks and spreadsheets. This can’t be done in Horizon Worlds.
My favorite reason for using Workrooms is VR allows you to stand out in the digital brand space. Inside Workrooms, you can select custom decor and customize the art in the room. My favorite theme is Ocean Terrace. This skin features the sounds and visuals of gently lapping waves just beyond a sunny villa patio. It’s very relaxing. Once you convince your staff and clients to meet in VR, they will never want to go back to 2D and will always remember that you introduced them to this new world.
How do Workrooms compare to traditional video conferencing like Zoom or Google? The biggest obstacle to VR is that it requires a headset and a willingness to interface your PC and headset. That may be too much to ask from non-techie clients or casual sales prospects. However, in the near future, widespread adoption of headset use will eliminate this problem. On the plus side, the atmosphere in Horizon Workrooms is far more pleasant than meeting people through a webcam. The need for makeup and business attire is eliminated—this can save many people, especially women, over an hour of getting ready each day. Most importantly, VR meetings feel more social and productive than video conferencing because we have evolved to communicate with more than words. Subtext can say far more than content. Some examples of non-verbal communication are:
Whom we sit by or stand near
Proximity to other people
Who leads and who follows
Where we turn our heads and eyes
How we use our hands
In summary, VR conferencing is sure to become even more ubiquitous than Zoom. That you are an early adopter introducing customers to this technology can be part of your brand in an experiential way. Meta has constantly been adding features and improving Horizon Workrooms, so the environment will be perfected once a more comfortable headset is released.
Your business can’t afford to ignore this global and technological shift. Stake your claim in the metaverse before your competitors beat you to it with SliiceXR. Let SliiceXR build a custom metaverse world for you. For the latest metaverse news, XR hardware and software reviews, and tips for virtual reality enthusiasts, subscribe to SliiceXR.