How will Virtual Reality change your life ?

Image courtesy : Samuel Zeller unsplash.com

I spent 3 hours on an average each day for 3 months just commuting to work. No special reason, I had to move to a part of town away from work. Assuming there were 21 working days each month — I have spent 3*21 = 63 hours on the road inhaling dust, smoke and doing absolutely nothing useful. Not to mention the drain of energy that I felt just after I finished each leg of the journey.

63 hours of commute is nearly 8 full working days. An acceptable commute time is probably half and around 4 days. 4 additional days with the family/friends or spent learning can potentially yield good results or a better utilisation of your Netflix subscription in the worst case scenario. Over the period of one year — Taking into account bad weather days, accidents on the road and other delays due to commuting, we spend nearly two-three weeks on the road. That is unacceptable.

In today’s world, this is a reality. Well paying jobs are primarily found in Urban areas. These areas tend to become congested because of people flocking in for work from all parts of the country. Real estate prices go through the roof and force people to move farther away to locations where the rents/homes are affordable. Far away homes mean more commute and less productivity.

The real question to ask is — Why do we need to go to a workplace? Places of work evolved in the old days where most jobs were in factories — availability of equipment and machinery prevented a remote workforce. This is true even today for manufacturing and industrial jobs.

Image from : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kolo_factory_view.jpg

In the beginning, IT jobs were the same. Computers were expensive and large. They had to be used in specialised locations to prevent dust and overheating from destroying them completely. Moreover, Only universities and large firms could afford them.

Bell Labs — Early days

Today, we live in a world of laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The location isn’t a constraint, data security sometimes is but that is something that can be taken care of.We still need an office to work in for 2 primary reasons:

Work Immersion — Getting focus on work and zoning out the other things.Staying at home on a daily basis with your family around can be distracting, being productive requires serious discipline from you and your family.

Effective Collaboration — Working with others in the company and collaborating to get things done. Perhaps, the most fundamental reason a workplace exists is to unite and get the force to work towards a singular goal.

VR can address both these issues. Collaboration involves concepts like working together, negotiating, reading body language & understanding other’s emotions. A large part of this lies in the ability to see, sense physical cues & reproduce all of this n a virtual environment.

Think about this — there is an entire industry that does just this and it does it damn well. What is the one industry that can emulate motion & emotion into imaginary objects, making them come to life?

Who hasn’t watched a movie from the likes of Pixar studios and been amazed at how well they emulate actions, emotions and beautifully sync voices from actors with characters? What if engineers and artists from Pixar started working with Occulus to simulate a life-like environment? Wouldn’t that be hard to ignore?

I see so many VR collaboration demos that make me feel like I m watching a poorly made cartoon from the 1920s. The gaming industry has made much of simulated realism in a controlled environment possible — The Xbox and PlayStations games today so are sophisticated. Look at the video below that shows the making of the adventure of a lifetime.

Why can’t we make sophisticated collaboration areas in VR? The equipment would be really expensive and tough to use on a commercial everyday basis. Breaking news, that’s how the first mobile phone, first computer, and virtually first version of every modern equipment that exists, started out.

The first mobile phone

We have to start somewhere and as we progress — technology will evolve and make breakthroughs.

In my humble opinion, we are probably 5 years away from a revolution in VR. The idea of a workplace would change, there would be fewer vehicles on the road, lesser pollution from emissions & some serious breaking down of boundaries between countries. People won’t need a visa to attend a workshop with a client in another country and spend endless hours at airports at transits between flights & security checks. So many personal tragedies like being in a country 48 hours away when someone passes away in a family can be averted easily.The possibilities are endless. The commercial airline industry will be done and dusted.

The negative side as always will be the loss of real social interaction. Even today, people have changed their socialising patterns to online rather than in person — losing out on a lot in the process. With social media, you can drown out what you don’t want to see or hear or things that make you uncomfortable. In-person you learn to deal with these things and learn social skills to help cope with unpleasantness, making you mentally stronger.All of this will become obsolete.People will be more distracted, physical health will take a larger beating as people will alter their VR identities easily to make up for physical neglect of their bodies.

I want to close with this ad by Havana. I have always loved it.

The VR revolution for me personally signifies a loss of real social interaction, ironically. I’m someone who is active physically and socially in the real world, as I am in the virtual. I hope that we can draw a line and make progress while still keeping our true social abilities as humans intact. The future is exciting as it is scary. VR will bring many fundamental and positive changes to our lives.


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