Had you considered that working virtually could involve virtual reality? Virtual Vocations explores augmented and virtual reality technology in remote work.
Have you been hesitant to work from home because it seems isolating? Are you skeptical of forming authentic connections and maintaining steady career growth when you’re miles away from the office and other colleagues? You aren’t alone. Although Virtual Vocations found, during a 2016 survey, that 74.3% of telecommuters have experienced an increased quality of life since they started telecommuting, many professionals are also wary of the idea of feeling out of tune with the ebb and flow of their company.
How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Shaping the Remote Landscape
Enter, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). As these emerging technologies begin to take their place in the consumer market, companies are racing to adapt them for use in the workplace. As a remote worker, it’s an excellent idea to get familiar with the role VR and AR play in current industries.
Even if you aren’t a tech expert, you can greatly benefit from knowing whats in the pipeline for companies who are early adopters of augmented and virtual reality platforms. As VR and AR become more mainstream, keep your eye out for job postings, conferences, and additional advancements that mesh these technologies with the remote work landscape.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is a technology that, through use of a headset or web browser, allows the user to access a world beyond their physical sight. Popular in video games and education, virtual reality can take you to the top of Everest with stunning accuracy, or allow you to map the craters of the moon. It utilizes 3D and 360 imaging to capture space and depth in a manner similar to the way our eyes do and relay the scene for an intriguing immersive experience.
What Is Augmented Reality?
Where virtual reality introduces you to a world all its own, augmented reality adds a new dimension to the existing world. With devices such as Microsoft’s Hololens, ARKit by Apple, and ARcore from Google, users can project 3D holograms, inserting them into the space around them.
AR and VR in Remote Work
What does all this mean for remote work? It means that the future of meetings, training, and office hours could drastically change, helping companies become more energy efficient, making time differences irrelevant, and creating seamless collaborations no matter which spot in the world remote team members call home.
Although the most common usage of augmented and virtual reality technologies still centers entertainment in mainstream media, AR and VR are expanding into some of the most long-standing industries and impacting the daily operations of today’s most crucial fields.
The future of work is undoubtedly remote, but this does not mean it will be less connected or less human. Several companies are ahead of the curve, creating dynamic technologies that use VR and AR to enhance and revolutionize the way teams are structured in a work environment and how projects are completed—all while saving vital costs on in the office or on-site expense.
Tech experts hypothesize that the future of technology will extend the comfort and convenience of big city living into suburban and rural environments. For instance, Mimesys has created the first holographic meeting platform that allows teams to access a meeting where virtual reality and augmented reality merge to create a truly mind-blowing experience. Teams can see each other in augmented reality or virtual reality, create demos for projects, and review 3D models, medical charts, and video while touching, editing and creating materials in real-time.
Telepresence robots, which are used to help remote workers feel more present in the office, will become much more life-like. Innovation Specialist Julio Gil thinks these robots will soon become holograms so that a remote worker can physically participate in meetings, supervisors can work with in-office staff to solve immediate problems, and hands-on training can occur from anywhere in the world without losing the benefit of face-to-face connection.
Revolutionizing Work with AR and VR
In order to better understand how augmented and virtual reality are shaping the remote landscape, let’s examine ways these technologies are currently being utilized in popular telecommuting job categories.
AR helps doctors to practice a procedure without a patient. A holographic projection of an open heart surgery previously performed can be replayed, allowing teaching hospitals to immerse students into the field and prepare them for real patient care. Additionally, nurses and specialists are using AR to map a patient’s veins before taking blood to save time and reduce pain.
VR is used with patients to help them cope with the effects of severe burns and lost limbs. Remarkably, new studies show that utilizing AR and VR can reduce phantom limb pain, and virtual simulations assist survivors suffering PTSD from combat and abuse.
Construction and Architecture
Construction companies and designers were some of the first to adopt VR and AR to accurately model new projects before breaking ground. Now, developers and architects can clearly map a site and view buildings’ potential flaws before wasting time and resources on aspects that couldn’t be realized.
Models of entire cities can be rendered in AR and manipulated with mixed reality to assist architects in making crucial decisions about placement, size, and material use. City planning has been revolutionized by these technologies, thereby reducing the costs of zoning and making structures more reflective of what consumers value most.
New VR heat mapping tracks what parts of a building are most attractive to vistitors. This data is used to inform how buildings are designed to reduce wasted space and design buildings around the needs of people who will use them.
The education field quickly saw the benefit of VR to enhance learning. As generations become increasingly more inundated with technology, incorporating it into new learning plans is vital. Some institutions offer completely virtual classrooms to accommodate the needs of students, reduce infrastructure costs, and provide the latest materials for students in the digital world.
This doesn’t mean that education has to lose the key components of socialization and collaboration. Utilizing the technology to engage students in subjects such as science, geography, and history, VR headsets have been made increasingly affordable and available to schools to develop new curricula that excite and engage modern students.
For instance, space exploration is now at the fingertips of future astronauts through technology such as AstroReality, a crowdsourced AR project that has one of the most accurate models of the moon to date. Developed with astrophysicists and developers from around the world, AstroReality enables eager explorers to view a palm-sized version of the moon with AR features.
Marketing is also another industry where AR and VR thrive. The emotional and sensory nature of buying trends lends itself perfectly to marketing strategies that seek to help consumers utilize all their senses. With immersive experiences created to promote some of the year’s movie and TV sensations like Star Wars and The Walking Dead, which both have their own AR experiences available now, marketers have a whole new toolbox to work with that allows for greater creativity. More importantly to consumers, these technologies help to provide accurate data that informs how products will be sold.
The marketing field is expanding to some experimental uses such as adding holographic and digital media to objects and enticing consumers with more immersive sales and marketing tactics like the Holoroom from Lowe’s. This AR installment can help you design your dream kitchen or remodel the bathroom in a specially designed space that builds with you using data you input into the system. Not only is this really cool to experience, it saves time in the planning and measuring process by utilizing measurements so you can see and feel how that new island will flow in your current kitchen set up.
Immersive storytelling is here, enhancing how we connect with news and media in exciting ways. The New York Times was one of the first major media platforms to introduce VR stories into their regular offerings. This addition helps consumers of all ages to connect with the stories in a more authentic way. Readers can now submerge themselves into the surroundings of the individuals, places and ideas they learn about, increasing the impact of what is being conveyed.
Journalists are also using VR to help people understand important issues like global warming. This year PBS helped to fund the project Greenland Melting, a spellbinding journey through the devastating impact of climate change on the Arctic environment in Greenland.
Discovery channel just announced an exciting addition to its VR venture called TRVLR. The new project will make everyone into virtual travelers, exploring the globe in stunning 360 glory. The experience will include more than just sight seeing though. You have access to cultural insights, rarely seen destinations and people from diverse corners of our world.
Many experts agree, soon most if not all shopping will be done in a mix of AR and VR, but this doesn’t have to mean an end to retail sales. The virtual shop will be equipped with helpful clerks also working the virtual space. Companies like Ikea are already beginning to try out the technology. With Ikea’s ARkit app, consumers can try out furniture in their home, seeing with holographic clarity just how that couch will look in their living room above the custom painting they love.
The Future Is Here
The future of remote work is a wide open space, that we can all take part of if we stay open to the many technological advances required. The work environment will be shaped by the use of VR and AR no matter the industry and you don’t have to be a tech genius to capitalize on these advances. Knowing how these technologies are used in a variety of industries, including your own will help you stay ahead of the game.
As the work world evolves, we must all continue to learn new skills, and as virtual workers we already of a leg up. Staying competitive means embracing new ideas, technologies, and innovations. Soon we could all be even more connected in the virtual workforce with VR and AR as part of our everyday lives.
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