I had a pretty decent first long meeting in VR earlier. Long for me in VR is 15+ minutes. My previous VR meetings had been limited to short tests to see if things worked, and in one instance getting hit in the privates by a child while I was in VR and abruptly ending that. This was before the proximity update where you can see kiddos walking in to slam into you.
TL;DR – this is thoughts about a couple of experiences meeting in VR, the most recent being today.
As a note – a couple of you volunteered to meet in VR with me, I wrote back but saved as a draft as I was looking for a scheduler that could be accessed by a few people to get a mass “I don’t know you” VR meetup going, and then I completely forgot. I didn’t mean to ghost you, but I did. Sorry about that.
Today I was given a demo of Arthur. I’m not at a point of reviewing them yet, I just started writing down notes and realized I had thoughts not specifically on them, but more meeting via avatar in general. I just finished the introduction and I want to do a few things, but it was one of the longer sessions I’ve had with a human in VR and yeah, I see why this is the future.
I’ve not been a fan of Zoom and the like. From tinny speakers, inconsistent microphones, people jockeying for speaking time, trying to figure out who’s speaking (this got better recently, or perhaps I did,) video meetings are doable but slogging for me. You’re on mute. I can’t see Janice’s screen. I know you think you’re sharing your screen Janice but that’s an Internet Explorer tab with a cat and not the presentation. How are you even using Internet Explorer Janice?
People tend to scream to be heard beyond the screen.
I thought initially that the detached floating torso and lip-sync face was going to be weird, and I think it was when I was playing in Meta’s Horizon Workspace when it first came out, but whether it was Arthur’s aesthetic or just due to being in a room longer than 5 minutes working with someone, it became quite unnoticeable.
Even on two-way video chats I’ve found there’s a lack of flow, or perhaps I just have no flow and get tripped up, but in VR that seems to be addressed. Probably because you’re not really sending megabytes of video data and can do quicker phone-speed audio, or maybe it’s just me. I don’t feel like I’m in the room with people, but it’s a whole lot closer to feeling like I’m not having to time my responses or end up in the “no, you go” tango.
The other thing I’m actually impressed with is that it’s relaxing. I don’t particularly like meetings because I tend to have a resting face that looks a little like I’m judging you and finding you lacking. It either looks like that or it looks like I have intentions. Neither of these are usually the case, I mean maybe the judging… I don’t know… but without worrying about what my face and body is doing, man that’s an unexpected freeing from a meeting I’m a relatively passive participant in.
I should probably mention that the talking is more relaxed, not the interaction. I feel in most VR meetings where I have to do anything like I’m attempting to sew a stitch on a very angry guinea pig while both my arms are asleep. I have a feeling I’ll get over that, but I have a history of throwing virtual keyboards into people, placing large objects out of bounds, and the like. There’s an interaction learning curve I’m still a bit out of.
There’s also no need to make my house look like I don’t have kids.
Throw Google’s Starlink technology, and downsize the headgear some, in and I’d suspect we’ll be seeing widespread adoption. Whether either of those will happen before people realize that you generally don’t need video for meetings beats me.