Most knowledge workers in 2020 are familiar with mixed reality tools like Zoom, Teams, and Slack, which allow them to meet in virtual places. By merging the real and virtual worlds to create new environments,. Employees who relied on face-to-face interactions in the office just nine months ago meet on virtual tropical islands,. Practically “standing” in front of presentations Broadcast around the world. Or maintain team spirit and jokes with timely GIFs and emojis mixed in their workstations
But these experiences are just the tip of the iceberg of mixed reality offerings. Augmented reality technologies have become regular features in product offerings, along assembly lines and even in surgeries. Now, with 42% of full-time U.S. employees working from home for the foreseeable future as the pandemic continues, new forms of mixed reality technology are creating traditional virtual substitutes for offices and redefining the future of work in process.
These new mixed reality apps can help businesses lower costs and increase revenue. Many companies we work with use them to reduce their real-world office footprint by about a third on average and empower remote workers, many of whom are already more productive when working from home without traveling.
Almost a decade before the outbreak of the pandemic, technology pioneers began using large-screen video “portals” to link satellite offices to each other through informal and continuous video feeds. As this technology evolved, large companies began to experiment with virtual neighborhoods to keep their teams connected globally.
The reason is When distributed team members couldn’t see each other, they felt disconnected and isolated. The lack of chance encounters affects not only their morale, but also their ability to collaborate and innovate.
Now, teams from some of the world’s largest financial services companies and retailers come together in virtual offices using mixed reality programs like Sneek and Pukkateam. These create a sense of togetherness by showing colleagues mosaics with periodically updated snapshots, so they know who is at their desks, on the phone, or having coffee and maybe talking.
Virtual focus groups
There is also a growing demand for virtual focus groups powered by artificial intelligence that allow companies to go beyond what is possible in physical conference rooms. Virtual environments created by platforms like Remesh allow companies to take advantage of the types of information obtained from small focus groups.. But at the scale of massive digital surveys, without the inconvenience of capturing only one-way comments.
Companies use these platforms to conduct market research. They collect and summarize the anonymous opinions of up to 1,000 participants on a new product concept or topic. Equipped with an upvoting engine and artificial intelligence that groups and aggregates responses,. Facilitators can also react and adapt the discussion in real time to explore ideas as they arise.
Finally, companies are turning to mixed reality environments as a solution to execute projects and generate innovations. When the pandemic hit, many companies were forced to freeze projects and research and development because they were unable to convene the people involved in person.
But some didn’t miss a beat, turning to collaboration tools like online sticky notes, shared whiteboards, and live co-editing of wikis, slides, and documents to bring people together. One bank we worked with this summer,. For example, found that it could also design and launch a new line of business and digital banking product in a virtual workspace,. And in a fraction of the time, like one year earlier for another product,. When he flew in people to brainstorm in person.
One of the main reasons for this success was that the combination of video, voice, chat, and collaboration tools created more opportunities for all team members to contribute. Rather than being drowned out by those with loud voices or a forceful presence. Or if they just lost the session because they couldn’t fly. With greater representation in the virtual room, teams were able to realize better and more holistic solutions in a way that had not happened before.
More ideas were shared and reviewed simultaneously in multi-editor collaboration tools than if they all had to flow through a live facilitator on a whiteboard. And the results were instantly formatted and digital, so they could be immediately used in reports and documentation, unlike another cryptic whiteboard photo.
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Mixed reality realms
We are beginning to see what the future of mixed reality work will look like. A year ago, no one would have believed that we would work from home on the scale we have now. Yet virtually all of the large corporations we speak to today are asking for innovations to make virtual work sustainable and productive.
This will fuel the next wave of mixed reality, with solutions such as artificial intelligence tools that can create optimal rotations of “chance” encounters between teams and functions.; Affordable smart home boards and large multi-monitor displays that will bring virtual collaboration from laptop screens to a more immersive full-size format; 3-D printers that will allow design teams to physically test prototypes around the world from their home offices. And for things that can’t be produced at home, fast home delivery throughout the city using drones of virtual happy hour supplies like paint and wine kits.
Like the grainy Skype calls of 2010 that preceded today’s Zoom boom, the mixed reality technologies that are becoming popular today are likely to be far outmatched in the near future. Ten years from now, we will view the current crop of virtual offices, focus groups, and collaboration tools with the same disdain we now have for garish phone calls.