Teleconferencing, with or without video, has reduced some travel over the years. Without the ability to have truly immersive conversations, a face to face experience, professionals continue opting for significant amounts of travel. With recent advancements in virtual reality (VR) hardware and software, few excuses will remain to travel for work. For some, it will be the critical factor to working from home.
By covering our entire field of view, the usual distractions of teleconferencing can be easily ignored. With head tracking, we are able to interact intuitively within a 3D environment, for both sight and sound. The first example is specifically augmented reality (AR), with digital people and objects layered on to the physical environment:
Only taste, touch, and smell are left out of the virtual environment, and most of us would consider their absence a perk. Sight and sound are sufficient, while we also gain unlimited access to various objects and tools. By working completely independently from the physical environment, full VR, we can operate far beyond the scale of a room:
To more accurately represent people in VR, real time face tracking will become mandatory. While the example below shows real faces in VR, people could still use other representations:
The Cost Savings
Long distance travel often requires several hours and $100s for the trip alone, from home to office. Standalone VR headsets are already available around $500. Depending on how much one values their time, one trip could easily cover the total cost of a VR Headset.
Oversimplified Savings Estimate:
Savings = 1 / Count of Trips Avoided
Example: 80% Savings = 1 / 5 Trips Avoided
Regular commutes could also be impacted, as one could be fully immersed in a collaborative work space, without needing to share a physical location. In the near term, it won’t eliminate the need for offices, but VR will support smaller and more flexible footprints.