Day 1 in the Virtual Office!! Let’s begin!
This is my first entry as I chronicle my experience using Virtual Reality for Productivity. I have been a VR enthusiast for many years. My first VR headset was the Samsung Gear VR for Galaxy S6. I even reviewed it on an old blog! Since those early years of experimentation I have gone on to work with VR in a professional setting for the past 6 years. I’ve used the majority of available hardware, and I have dreamed of a day when I could replace my laptop with a VR Office. We are not there yet… But we are getting closer!
I monitor the newsfeed for news around VR for Productivity. Most studies I’ve read are either fans who don’t see the down side in VR, or critics who fail to see any upside. I’ve been waiting for a long-term user of VR to grab some tools, and really use the technology in a structured and focused manner. The end result being a report card of sorts detailing what is good, and what is bad. What use cases are solid, and which are laughable. I’m tired of waiting. So I’m just going to do it myself.
I have the advantage of working for an awesome VR company, OssoVR. The company builds surgical training modules using virtual reality, and is 100% remote. I was issued two Meta Quest2 headsets when I joined (in addition to the two I already owned). In addition to my regular job, I have had the chance to spend the past year exploring the Horizon Workrooms platform (since the day it released in beta), along with a slew of other services. If you can name it, I’ve probably used it at some point in the past 4 years. I average 15 hours a week in VR, but some of that is for fun.
Walkabout Minigolf is highly recommended if you are new to collaborative VR and want to have a great time with friends. I am going to attempt 50% of my time in VR for at least 4 weeks. Might push it to 8 weeks, but we’ll just take it one day at a time. Each day I will post how I used VR for productivity that day, and highlight some highs and lows. Hopefully in the end I can lay out a report around how this technology might move forward and how the “metaverse (ugh)” might be built in a scalable, and sustainable way. We will see…
I have set up a “VR Office” for this experiment. Pictured here. I have a pop-up desk that I can move around that house, based on where I want to work (I intend to use passthrough along with virtual offices). I have a KIWI stand for my headset when not in use, and all the power needed to keep things charged. I have a modified faceplate with built in fan. It’s very quiet, but with a 3 hour battery life, I’ll need to charge between sessions. I also have prescription lenses for my Quest, but I usually just use contacts. I use an Elite Headstrap with additional battery. This gives me twice the battery life and helps balance the weight in the front and the back. I am using both Magic Keyboard and Logitech MX Keys for keyboards, and a Microsoft Mouse that can toggle between Mac and PC (I will be moving between two remote laptops located in my physical office). For software, I am using Meta Horizon Workrooms for my primary office. I am also using Immersed, which features a VR webcam that allows me to join Zoom calls as my Meta Avatar. Those are my primary Productivity tools to start. For social time with my team, I use Walkabout Minigolf (already mentioned) and ForeVR Cornhole at the moment. That’s my config. Here’s how Day 1 went:
Day 1 in the Virtual Office
Total Time in VR: 7 hours and 6 minutes.
Primary Use cases: Morning Meditation, Weekly Project Meeting, Multiple 1:1 meetings, Focus time, Customer Meeting, Evening Work
I spent more time today than I even planned. I was surprised how much the fan helped to keep my face cool throughout the day. I spent most of the day in Horizon Workrooms collaborating with others. I did spend a couple hours in my Personal Office as well, working on my own projects.
Cup Half Empty: I had some WIFI issues with others causing latency drops in Workrooms. My MX Keyboard is struggling to map in full VR mode, so I’m using desktop passthrough. Even the Magic Keyboard was a little “floaty” today. I believe this is tied to the mapping of the desk surface. Multiple attempts, and I can tell the desk is too high (meaning the keyboard is “under the desk”), but I haven’t been able to resolve.
Cup Half Full: My Macbook went to sleep upstairs, but I was still able to login from the VR Office without having to go wake it up. That was unexpected. The clarity of the screens in the Personal Office is great. Much easier to work on than the earlier version of Workrooms, and better than Immersed (another VR Office I will be using mostly for the webcam).
#TLDR: Today was a good start. Lots of time in the headset with ZERO eye strain or neck strain. I met with many other avatars and explored the new Breakout Rooms of Workrooms. Very happy with the experiment so far, but making sure I don’t put my foot on the “virtual scale”. This experience might still suck, and I will let the facts speak for themselves.