VR as a Solution to Multi-user Collaboration

HighresScreenshot00005 klein png (2)Would you say that collaboration is an important aspect behind business success? We would say, ‘Absolutely!’ Whether a business belongs to the SME industry or finds itself in the list of huge multinationals, a significant factor contributing to its prosperity is effective and efficient communication between its teams and with external stakeholders. This can lead to successful pooling of talents and strengths, developing employee skills, and coming up with time-efficient solutions to internal and external challenges. All this ensures that the firm is a learning organization, which is a necessity in today’s ever changing industrial landscape.

Owing to technological advancements and changing workforce demographics, the ways of working have undergone vast changes and companies need to adapt to them in order to remain successful. Firstly, the expectations and workplace attitudes of employees are not the same as there is an increasing percentage of millennials in the global labourforce, who expect decentralized communication in their workplace. According to Myers and Sadaghiani, millennials ‘‘favor open and frequent communication with their supervisors, and are at ease with communication technologies’’. Moreover, this Generation Y is more inclined towards work-life balance and a huge majority of them prefers to work from home or avail remote working opportunities.

https://res.infoq.com/articles/top5-problems-distributed/en/resources/img1.jpgIn addition, businesses have been expanding to different locations for various reasons; low cost production options, richer talent pool, lower wages, and proximity to technology, e.g. operating in the Silicon Valley. This means that teams are situated miles apart and need to communicate on a regular basis for effective achievement of business goals.

While travelling to the destination is a good option, since it allows for in-person discussions, it is not very practical due to the following reasons:

  • High monetary costs of travel
  • Wastage of time
  • The opportunity cost of spending that time and money for other productive work
  • Environmental damage as air travel has a high carbon footprint and causes pollution

Therefore, over the past decade or so, firms have been creating possibilities for remote work. Conference calls are one of the main ways through which teams in different locations can stay connected. With the passage of time, there have been advancements in the types of conferences. We explain each type in detail below:

 

1) Audio Call

The first and oldest option of remote communication is of course audio calls. Owing to the ease of setting these up, e.g. the collaborators only need a telephone connection with good signals and a calling device, telephonic conferences have been a part of industrial collaboration since decades. 

However, neither are they too effective, nor suitable for all types of collaboration. One is unable to see the other person’s body language or expressions, both of which might convey details that the person is not giving out deliberately. Therefore, audio conferences can mainly be resorted to for short updates but are especially not suitable for longer discussions, which are better conducted face-to-face.

 

2) Video Conference

With a huge variety of video calling software, this option has now become quite popular. Skype for business and even apps like Whatsapp now provide conference calling options, whereby a whole group can take part in a video chat. This is more advantageous than plain telephone conversations as it allows participants to see each other, thus being face-to-face. Moreover, some data, like images, videos and documents can be shared with each other. Video conferencing has therefore become the preferred and most used means of remote collaboration among business professionals over the past several years.

There are still disadvantages though, e.g. not being able to see complete body language. Additionally, not all types of data files can be exchanged as there may be memory restrictions, and participants can not work on or alter the data together in real-time. These issues are resolved by the latest collaboration tool: Virtual Reality.

 

3) Virtual Reality Meeting

Virtual Reality can be used to meet other people in real-time, whether these people are your colleagues, clients or even potential employees. This is the way to go when the meeting needs to be conducted for exchanging technical information, making decisions, solving complex problems, brainstorming for innovative ideas, especially in the modern era of design thinking, and even training employees!

Our Solution

Our virtual reality multi-user collaboration platform, called STAGE, enables you to discuss your designs and projects with clients and partners, regardless of location.This not only leads to potential cost and time saving (which you can calculate for your own business on our website) but also provides other advantages over audio and video conferences, namely:

  • Ability to interact with the environment (as avatars, you can roam around and touch objects in the virtual scene, with VR gloves ensuring that the feedback is as realistic as possible)
  • Easy exchange of CAD data files (this is opposed to sharing CAD data via simple screen share, which is insufficient and laggy)
  • Virtual tours, leading to higher customer satisfaction (e.g. for AEC projects)
  • VR showrooms (for showing products in advance, e.g. aircrafts, automobiles, etc.)
  • Possibility to conduct immersive training sessions for groups           

 

STAGE consists of Three Parts:

  1. Our plug-in for Unity and Unreal
  2. The STAGE Cloud, which is where you deploy your projects and have them available with version management
  3. The STAGE desktop client, which is what your client sees when he joins a session in VR or with desktop PC

 

Why choose us?

A unique choice that makes the difference and here is why:

  • Freemium model: You can try STAGE for free to check how it works with the requirements of your company. 
  • Game engine independent (Unity, Unreal): Since our solution is based around virtual reality, we consistently rely on the use of game engines like Unity and/or Unreal as the VR software.
  • Simply add a plug-in: Our plug-in for Unity and Unreal coming with templates to build your multi-user VR scene. This is extremely useful to get an idea of how you would like your VR environment to be.
  • Designed for enterprise solutions: Operating as SAAS, we aim to provide the best possible solution to your collaboration problems as an enterprise. This of course means customization according to your needs and size of business, with adjustable pricing according to the package you select. We are also happy to offer consulting services to help you select the right option for your firm.
  • Scalable infrastructure: When your business expands and you need more members to participate in your virtual meetings, or need to execute more projects, you can easily upgrade to a different package.
  • Ease of use: Using STAGE is like using any other chatting software. Moreover, the STAGE manual, FAQ section and Youtube tutorials make it as easy as possible for you to learn. You can also of course contact our team any time you want and we would be more than happy to help you with your problem.
  • Cloud storage: You can access your meeting sessions and exchanged files from anywhere in the world, while resting assured that all your data is securely encrypted!

 

Industries and Business Functions making use of VR for Multi-user Collaboration

It is astonishing to see how far VR has come, in terms of its applications and usability. Currently, it is being used for collaboration purposes by various business functions including HR, Marketing, and Operations (PLM). Moreover, from Automotive and Aerospace to AEC and even Healthcare, every industry has success stories to tell. We also have innumerable clients operating as SMEs and multinationals in different industrial sectors, e.g. Numena, Aconext, Piterion, AF Packaging Solutions, and Designfunktion, thus proving that VR is spreading its roots and changing the face of multi-user collaboration across industries.

 

 

Conclusion

All this information, though seemingly very useful, might seem overwhelming in terms of application in your business. In our upcoming blog articles, we will discuss case studies of our partners, who belong to different industrial sectors and vary in the size of their corporations as well. Their experience with STAGE and how it became the solution to their multi-user collaboration needs might help you find your way around this technology so you can start reaping the rewards for yourself! Stay tuned! :)