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Augmenting reality to share both experience and information

August 19, 2013 | Telepresence Options

space glasses

Story and images by Maria Korolov / Hyper Grid Business

At some distant point in the future, virtual reality will be good enough and immersive enough that we can telecommute to our jobs by simply stepping into some version of a Holodeck or plugging into some version of the Matrix.

Today's virtual reality has only very limited use for the average corporate employee.

There are some uses. Rapid prototyping, virtual simulations, the occasional virtual meeting or conference. But these are, right now, very much niche applications.

One problem is that a typical job involves dealing with two different types of tasks -- ones that involve sharing and processing experiences, and ones that involve processing and sharing information.

Virtual reality is great at the experience part. You can your colleagues can, say, ride a rollercoaster together, visit a mockup of your new office building together, or attend a quarterly earnings presentation together.

And your current computer setup is optimized for dealing with information. You've got your word processing, your email, your Internet, your spreadsheets, your Skype -- everything you need to move data around.

The problem is when these two things overlap. You don't want to edit a word processing document by waving your hands in the air -- you would get very tired, very quickly. The mouse-and-keyboard combination allows you to work for hours at a time. But to use it, you'd have to leave the virtual world.

This is why so many people are frustrated at attending meetings in Second Life or OpenSim -- it takes a long time to get into the world, to get the audio to work, to make sure everyone is wearing clothes -- and then if all you do is watch a PowerPoint presentation, then what was the point? You could have watched the same presentation online and had a quick conference call, instead.

But with the online presentation, you don't get the sense of presence -- you're missing the experience part of the equation. You don't get to interact with your co-workers, to gossip with them afterwards around the water cooler, to catch lunch together after the meeting. And that's exactly when a big chunk of work actually happens.

But it just occurred to me that we do actually have a technology that combines the two. And I hate to say it, it really feels bad to have to admit it, but it's Google Glass.

Imagine that you're sitting in your home office, working at your computer. But when you look up, instead of seeing the walls around you, you see the rest of your company's office, your co-workers, your boss. They can walk over and see what you're working on, catch you up on the latest company gossip.

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