Part 1: Ambition
There’s no getting away from the fact that virtual reality is a complex subject. Even the amateur user needs to brush up on a number of topics before taking the plunge and buying a head mounted display (HMD). For the professional user, the number of questions to be answered increases dramatically. However, and I’ll admit that I’m biased here, plotting your organisations ambitions and goals when it comes to visualisation and virtual reality is a pretty exciting prospect. If done right, it genuinely can transform the way you work and engage with others within and outside of the organisation.
Predictably then, before even considering the technical components and delivery, you need to be clear on what the organisational ambition is.
Is it a point solution you’re looking for? To introduce a new organisational capability? Something in between? Even a quick exercise to create a basic roadmap for the different parts of your organisation is a good use of your time; there’s a good chance you’ll unlock use cases and possibilities you hadn’t initially considered. Not all of these have to be unlocked straight away, of course, but at least now you’ve got a picture for how you might like your initial acorn to grow.
Another reason this is such an important first step is because a successful professional VR capability needs to complement the dynamics between the people who will use it.
This isn’t always best achieved via HMDs any more than it is by prescribing an expensive and dedicated facility at each office: the former can be quite isolating and limit free engagement when groups are collaborating, the latter can be unwieldy and not allow people to access visualisations freely and when needed.
To give you some idea, we regularly see users successfully employing our VR software and systems into their working lives through:
- Desktops, laptops and tablets: whether via a HMD or not. Sometimes it’s enough just to be able to interact with a 3D visualisation in an intuitive manner. Often that’s all that’s needed to generate that ‘ah-ha!’ moment and cut-through days or weeks of speaking at crossed purposes.
- HMDs: their cost and capability have been on precipitous and opposing trajectories over the last couple of years, meaning that some extremely capable devices are now well within the grasp of the average user.
- Dedicated facilities: perhaps the most iconic view of VR is of people working in front of a large wall, or even surrounded by many such walls in a ActiveCube (often referred to as a cave). These set-ups allow groups to effectively and naturally work together in an immersive 1:1 scale environment.
- Taking VR to where it’s needed: your most effective engagements are likely to be away from your office, to people who wouldn’t necessarily think of themselves as VR consumers. Smaller scale, portable walls have been taken to ship-yard dock-halls, mines or remote destinations to allow those at the sharp end of operations to plan and work safely and collaborate with experts back at operational hubs.
- Bespoke configurations: perhaps the haptic cow represents the extreme, errr, end of this.
Hopefully this list gives you some impression of how taking a broader view of how VR can improve the way your organisation interacts and operates. Getting started with VR need not be an expensive or onerous experience, but making sure you’re using it as effectively as possible does require a little thought.
The last point, bespoke configurations, illustrates that VR is about bringing a number of different hardware and software components together. The technology we have at our disposal today means that there is great scope for novel set-ups that serve very particular and important use-cases. However, doing so effectively, robustly and economically requires bringing together a few different threads. In the next blog, we’ll explore some of those fundamentals.