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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Virtual Reality Is a Game-Changing Computing and Communication Platform

Very good piece on the topic from CACM.      With some useful examples of VR uses beyond games.  Have been skeptical about its general use, see key insights below for good overview.   Note mention of 'virtual worlds' below which we actively examined. 

Six Reasons Why Virtual Reality Is a Game-Changing Computing and Communication Platform for Organizations   By Osku Torro, Henri Jalo, Henri Pirkkalainen

Key Insights:

VR can solve many critical bottlenecks of conventional remote work while also enabling completely new business opportunities.

VR enables novel knowledge-management practices for organizations via enriched data and information, immersive workflows, and integration with appropriate IS and other emerging technologies.

VR enables high-performing remote communication and collaboration by simulating or transforming organizational communication, in which altered group dynamics and Al agents can also play an interesting role. ... 

Communications of the ACM, October 2021, Vol. 64 No. 10, Pages 48-55  10.1145/3440868

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruptions to businesses, forcing them to take their activities into the virtual sphere. At the same time, the limitations of remote working tools have become painfully obvious, especially in terms of sustaining task-related focus, creativity, innovation, and social relations. Some researchers are predicting that the lack of face-to-face communication may lead to decreased economic growth and significant productivity pitfalls in many organizations for years to come.13

As the length and lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be reliably estimated, organizations will likely face mounting challenges in the ways they handle remote work practices. Therefore, it is important for organizations to examine which solutions provide the most value in these exceptional times. In this article, we propose virtual reality (VR) as a critical, novel technology that can transform how organizations conduct their operations.

VR technology provides "the effect of immersion in an interactive, three-dimensional, computer-generated environment in which virtual objects have spatial presence."5 VR's unique potential to foster human cognitive functions (that is, the ability to acquire and process information, focus attention, and perform tasks) in simulated environments has been known for decades.6,8,32 VR has, thus, long held promise for transforming how we work.33

Earlier organizational experiments with desktop-based virtual worlds (VWs)—3D worlds that are used via 2D displays—have mostly failed to attract participation and engagement.34,37 Increasing sensory immersion has been identified as necessary for mitigating these problems in the future.18 Therefore, sensory immersion in VR through the use of head-mounted displays (HMDs) can be seen as a significant step forward for organizations transferring their activities to virtual environments. In this regard, VR is now starting to fulfill the expectations that were placed upon VWs in the past decades, as per Benford et al, for instance.4

However, VR has only recently matured to a stage where it can truly be said to have significant potential for wider organizational use.17 In 2015, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg described VR as "the next major computing and communication platform."38 Although VR has received this kind of significant commercial attention, its potential in organizational use remains largely scattered or unexplored in the extant scientific literature.

Drawing on contemporary research and practice-driven insights, this article provides six reasons why VR is a fundamentally unique and transformative computing and communication platform that extends the ways organizations use, process, and communicate information. We relate the first three reasons with VR as a computing platform and its potential to foster organizations' knowledge management processes and the last three reasons with VR as a communication platform and its potential to foster organizations' remote communication processes.  ... ' 

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