Michaela Wirtz
6 min readApr 18, 2022

Meetings, VR Style

Avatars and conversation and meeting rooms, oh my!

MeetinVR photo via Oculus
MeetinVR photo via Oculus

VR can seem a bit overwhelming at first. There are so many apps out there and most people assume that VR equals gaming. Unless you have friends or coworkers who have already spent time in VR-land and, share their experience, it can be difficult to figure out which productivity app works best for you. There’s avatars to build. Accounts to set up — online and off. Jargon to learn. Networking to do.

VR is an uncharted territory, one that could be the next step in our corporate evolution. How many of us sat through endless video conference calls, sharing our screens and were so focused on multitasking that we missed actually connecting with people? Instead of worrying about how much of your messy office showed up on camera, what about focusing on the discussion at hand?

My goal is to find an app that would allow me to host live discussions with my Beta Reader team so that they can give me feedback on my works-in-progress. I want to also use VR for interviews and brainstorming sessions. A meet-and-greet with other authors is also on the table.

My criteria is pretty simple:

  • An immersive experience — I don’t want the outside world intruding while I’m working.
  • Easy to learn — don’t make me have to wade through documentation or scroll through endless comments on a user forum to try and use the app.
  • Provide either a scaled down version for free or a free trial before trying to lock me into a monthly subscription fee.
  • Must appeal to solopreneurs who are either on a limited budget or might only need VR a few times per month.

So, I grabbed a bunch of VR chat apps at random and got to work.

VRChat

I started my investigation with VRChat. It wasn’t quite what I expected. The space itself was visually interesting, with portals leading to individual chat rooms. As a plus, its free to the public. But the avatar choices were limited and appealed to a much younger audience.

My first dive into VRChat was a midweek, late morning session. I tried a number of the open chat rooms, but I could not identify one voice that didn’t sound like they were skipping school to hang out online.

I tried a few more times, but the result was the same. So, I scratched that app off of my list and moved on.

VRChat photo taken with Oculus
VRChat photo taken with Oculus

AltSpaceVR

My next stop was AltSpaceVR. This free app is an event-based community space and, more importantly, it appears to be adult-focused. There are a wide variety of live events, including concerts, tech talk and even comedy shows. I found churches, a VR shopping network, a virtual film company, a few talent shows, a toastmaster’s club and more. So many interesting events just beckoned me to RSVP.

Even better, you can create your own events and even build your own personal space. The app provides a simple step-by-step on creating your own event. I see the potential for a ‘meet the author’ virtual event so I put this one in the ‘continue to explore’ category.

AltSpaceVR avatar picture taken with Oculus
AltSpaceVR avatar picture taken with Oculus

MeetinVR

MeetinVR, moves into real business world application. It provides a creative virtual space with enhanced whiteboards that lets users brainstorm and collaborate in four different spaces: an auditorium, private conference room, a private focus room and an open idea space. The free version allows up to 10 users per meeting, with paid versions available.

I didn’t see any instructions on how to use the free version, so I had to reach out to their support team. To use the app without a paid account, you will log in as a guest. The app will give you a choice between attending a prescheduled meeting or to create your own meeting. If you choose to create your own meeting, MeetinVR will generate a meeting ID that you can share with other participants. Next, you give them the name you’d like displayed for the meeting, then choose from a variety of premade avatars. From here you are moved into the default meeting room, the open idea space.

The app tools include linking to a Dropbox account, a tablet, whiteboards, sticky notes, a camera, a browser, a pen, a pointer, voice zone creator and even a confetti dispenser to celebrate.

Definitely something for small group discussion, whether it’s a chat with your beta readers, a one-on-one with an editor or just a group chat with some friends.

MeetinVR avatar photo taken with Oculus
MeetinVR avatar photo taken with Oculus

Glue

This app seems to have a bit of everything, from collaboration tools (whiteboards, freehand drawing, screen sharing and, yes, sticky notes!) to meetings rooms to large lecture halls. Glue has a free version that allows up to 10 team members to collaborate in up to 30-minute sessions and has 2 GB file storage just for the asking.

Glue is designed for group collaboration. There are four virtual spaces: Home, which is the smallest virtual space, and Mont Matiz, Scrum Place and The Guildhouse, which are designed for larger groups. I hopped between them, trying to get a feel for the spaces. The graphics are incredibly detailed and had a ‘home’ like feel to it.

This app is at the top of my list for meetings, large and small. I really felt at home in this space.

Glue Mont Matiz space taken with Oculus
Glue Mont Matiz space taken with Oculus

Additional VR spaces

Connec2 looks to be a comprehensive virtual collaboration platform. It features a virtual workspace, a 3D workflow and hosts virtual events. There is no free version listed on their website and prices start at €250 euros per month for a five-member team. Definitely outside my price range!

Another app, MeetingRoom, offers a standard package for small- to medium-sized business and an enterprise package for larger businesses. Tools include a reference wall (a whiteboard with templates to allow teams to quickly brainstorm), a collaboration wall (a wall for sticky notes) and a presentation wall (share a document or presentation). MeetingRoom also offers a Virtual Concierge service to support businesses that are new to VR. Unfortunately, they don’t list prices on their website and I didn’t see anything about a free version.

The last app I tried was Horizon Workroom. There is an interesting fusion between VR and your desktop. It allows you to access your calendar, either Google or Outlook, and remote into you computer, but be warned this is a beta model. It doesn’t currently allow you to move around or teleport using the controls on your handheld controllers. It’s free, but I was unable to find much documentation online.

So, what now?

In my quick deep-dive into this, I know that I probably missed a few. And that’s ok. For now, my VR contacts are slim, and no one I know has expressed interest in one app over another.

Next week, I will review a few immersion apps that let me set up an office in VR and work on my work-in-progress, A Cry In The Darkness. Nothing says ‘I can’t be disturbed!’ like an app that lets you create a virtual office with access to your computer, unlimited monitors and a great view!

Michaela is the founder of the What Now Project, a tongue-in-cheek collection of essays that seek to answer that age old question: Srsly, where do we go from here?

Michaela Wirtz

Michaela is an eclectic & highly caffeinated DIYer. Join her as she continues her quest to explore virtual reality to find the best productivity apps out there