7 May 2022
Beyond video communication: Virtual and VR tools for learning, meetings and events
Digital is paving the way forward – keeping organisations connected both internally and externally. As people remain connected but distanced we don’t see this changing in the future. A blended approach to communications will combine face-to-face with digital tools like video conferencing and virtual worlds.
Indeed virtual and VR tools have become increasingly popular, but many businesses are not providing true, valuable virtual experiences. When used beneficially, virtual or VR tools enable users to effectively describe a concept, demonstrate a product and more. That’s why it’s important for us to help our clients choose the right tools for their project.
So how can VR and virtual tools aid with learning, meetings and events?
Beyond video communications
Virtual and VR: What's the difference?
‘Virtual’ is often mistaken for VR but the word virtual, in this context, simply refers to content being delivered by digital means – typically viewed using a device screen. At Bloc virtual tools involve 3D interactivity, where users interact with a model in 3D space using their device.
For other companies ‘virtual’ can mean anything from a 2D website to one that integrates a small amount of interactivity or simple popup text. This does not have the same impact as a truly virtual environment.
Choosing virtual or VR
With VR the opposite is true – whether each participant has a VR setup or only one of the group, human interaction is possible. It involves listening, not reading and human interaction rather than digital. Which one is the best fit for a project depends on the need.
VR experiences can be multi-layered. While one participant does need VR setup for a VR event, lesson or meeting, others do not need this functionality. If they do, the users will be able to interact and investigate too, but if they simply have a screen they can discuss the interactions made by others.
While virtual learning tools could have different content that is course specific the overarching functionality is the same. Whether it’s a 3D depiction of a human cell, an engine motor or a product design, the student can interact with the 3D object, rotating to see every angle, clicking on popup information to find out more about particular parts, and use a popup chat box to discuss the content with their lecturer.
Instead with VR, a lecturer equipped with a VR headset can interact, rotate and investigate the 3D object and explain how it works or become immersed in a digital environment such as a laboratory or manufacturing set-up, giving academics a platform to conduct remote discussions or aid with the delivery of classroom-based curriculum. This is similar to VR training toolkits, which we have previously produced for pharmaceutical and aerospace industries.
Virtual meetings would involve a digital environment where meeting members can all interact with the same 3D object – rotating it, spinning it, pulling it apart – and being able to view each other’s interaction alongside a discussion.
We’re also in the process of creating a VR meeting room which functions in a similar way – avatars of meeting members appearing at a seat at the table surrounding the 3D object, passing it around if more than one member has a VR setup too.
Virtual or VR meetings are especially useful when discussing a product – how it works, how it looks – or reviewing designs. But without the need for in-depth interactions like this, VR tools are unnecessary. There’s not much point to sitting in a VR boardroom with the ability to write on a whiteboard being the highest level of interaction, like many examples we’ve seen…
Stimulating interest with events
On Microsoft teams or Zoom, customers need to have prior communication to connect with your business. Instead with virtual or VR exhibitions these customers choose to enter a virtual website or VR portal to hear more about your company. Virtual and VR events are about stimulating interest.
Exploring the virtual event, visitors would be met with products your business is demonstrating in an interactive 3D capacity. They could view a 3D machine model in 360 degrees, click on popup information to find out more about specific parts, listen to audio and have the ability to chat with a sales representative to discuss in more depth.
Similarly with a VR event, visitors would be met with a VR-equipped sales representative who explains and interacts with the product in a 3D digital environment. They can take it apart, rotate and demonstrate functionality as potential customers view and discuss their interactions on screen.
The right tool for the right job
However, we believe – now and in the future – that a blended approach to communications will combine face-to-face with digital tools like video conferencing and the virtual worlds discussed. By no means will virtual and VR tools replace the likes of Zoom and Microsoft teams, but they will complement them, forming more complete communications.
To discuss any virtual or VR requirement for your organisation get in touch with us by emailing email@example.com.