Pop culture depictions of extended reality (XR) technology can be a little jarring sometimes. For instance, the first season of the internationally acclaimed series Black Mirror unpacks the horrifying consequences that people may face if they have a XR device permanently embedded into their brain, recording their every waking moment. Matt Groening’s animated cartoon Futurama has a more whimsical take: in a season 6 episode, all the heroes have an augmented reality device inserted into their faces, called an ‘eyePhone’. Black Mirror went on to depict a terrifying virtual reality (VR) simulation in the season 3 episode called ‘Playtest’, where the protagonist endures a nightmarish virtual experience.
We aren’t saying that we wouldn’t recommended these shows. Rather, we suggest people see them as entertainment, not fact.
The VR and augmented reality (AR) industries have long known about the potential these technologies have to revolutionise the way we work. Black Mirror and Futurama are incredible shows, but their fantastical interpretations of the potential pitfalls of XR are misleading. XR tech is already becoming crucial for improving efficiency and employee satisfaction across various industries. Here are 3 examples of how XR implementation in the world of work:
VR can Improve Workplace Collaboration
In 2020, in a move that was as comical as it was relatable, Wikipedia added a page for Zoom Fatigue to their site. The sheer volume of video calls that professionals have endured during the pandemic is taking its toll. Burnout and feelings of isolation are at the top of the list of symptoms. In the last year the plastic surgery industry has experienced a huge increase in the number of new patients that is referred to as the “Zoom Boom”. People who were miserable about their appearance on their laptop webcam everyday chose to get to face-lifts, lip fillers, and Botox injections on an unprecedented scale.
HTC Vive’s video conferencing suite allows businesses to work remotely and collaboratively at the same time. Employees can see and interact with their colleagues’ avatars in a virtual space. Similarly, the site mootup.com allows participants to experience Zoom meetings in VR. There are predictions that Facebook is also entering the virtual workplace space with their own XR solution. Virtual reality is being used to move away from the stale screen of a Zoom meeting, to allowing professionals to interact in a more personal way with their remote colleagues.
VR is Changing the Way we Learn on the Job
Immersive learning and virtual training solutions are becoming adopted by a range of professions. Applications exist for construction, manufacturing, design, architecture, medicine, and engineering. Immersive learning increases content retention rates amongst participants by up to 75%. As a result, currently most training initiatives from major corporations involve in-person teaching and eLearning solutions. Statista reports that in 2017 US corporations spent over US$350 Billion on this form of training. Consequently, In 2021, popular opinion has shifted towards a virtual approach.
The results of immersive learning solutions using VR are extremely positive. The industries that have used VR have seen improvements in skills and efficiency of their employees. VR also helps with team bonding and employee development, which makes this technology a significant investment in staff. Improving employee confidence and engagement through immersive learning is a fundamental use-case of VR in the world of work.
XR Helps Improve Customer Experience
There are several ways that VR is improving the retail experience for both employees and customers. This is another example of XR changing the world of work. PwC’s soft skills training using VR was incredibly successful. It illustrated the potential that VR has in the customer service space. VR Trainees reported being more than twice as confident about the material taught, over 3 times as emotionally connected to the content, and 4 times as focused as their eLearning counterparts. PwC also reports that soft skills can be trained 4 times faster using a VR solution.
AR is also useful in a retail context. AR applications allow customers to see a virtual projection of merchandise placed into the real world. “Contactless shopping” uses smartphone applications. IKEA has an app that allows users to superimpose furniture products, and “place” them into their lounges. Converse’s Sampler App allows users to see a full-sized AR version of their shoes, whereas Lego has come out with an app that shows you what a finished set will look like on your countertop.
XR is changing the way businesses and customers navigate the world of work in a more efficient and more enjoyable way.
The applications for VR and AR technology should no longer be limited to the nightmares of Black Mirror or the absurdities of Futurama in our collective imaginations. Immersive applications are already being developed and implemented in simple and effective ways in the world of work.
XR is going mainstream. Our missions at Sozo Labs is show you how.