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Doing Team Standups in Oculus Will Blow Your Mind

business team standups with Oculus facebook virtual reality
Image courtesy of Meta

As VR adoption takes off, more and more investment will be made in building products for “the metaverse.” This new digital world presents huge opportunities for improving how we communicate and work together.

The developments in VR technology over the past decade are nothing short of amazing. Oculus VR, in particular, is pretty mind blowing. High quality video, spatial audio, and wireless. You can easily spend hours getting lost playing Fruit Ninja or feel your heart rate start to soar while soaring over building tops like Superman. 

When you first think of this technology, a ton of consumer use cases immediately come to mind: gaming, entertainment, and, of course, social events. 

However, the more the technology improves, the easier it is to imagine using VR for a number of work use cases, ranging from team meetings to collaborative working sessions, even to virtual conferences with speakers and exhibitors. 

Why Meet in VR Instead of Zoom?

While there have been huge strides in the quality of our video conferencing tools, especially market leader Zoom, it can still feel unnatural to collaborate. 

Some of the issues that make it hard to collaborate well over video conferencing include the sound quality, the distractions, and the inability to make eye contact. 

Let’s start with the sound quality. Most video conferencing products utilize some function of smoothing and isolating sound coming from the attendees to improve the overall quality of the audio. 

However, this can end up feeling unnatural because it doesn’t allow for people to (naturally) talk over each other. 

Next, hopping on a video meeting on the computer where it is easy to flip over to another screen to check your email makes it hard for everyone on the call to really focus on the meeting. 

These distractions can lead to meetings that are disjointed and, frankly, not very much fun to attend.

Finally, and maybe most importantly in terms of its impact in building rapport and connection over video meetings, is the inability to make eye contact. 

This is worsened when you leave self view turned on during a meeting because, if you are like most people, you spend most of the time looking at yourself.

Even when you are trying to lock eyes with someone over video, it just doesn’t feel natural.

How Oculus Makes the Metaverse Feel Real

The brilliance of Oculus is in its ability to use graphics and sound in harmony to make presence feel real. Let’s dig into each.

The graphic quality is very high, which makes it easy to feel fully immersed in a scene. The headset also makes it relatively easy to adjust the focus to tune the view to your liking. 

As you move your head around a scene and take in the three dimensional digital world around you, it truly feels real, in this bizarre but familiar way. 

The graphics respond very naturally and quickly to the physical movements you make with your head. You look up with the headset on, you see the “ceiling” in the digital world. 

It’s very satisfying to look around a scene like your eyes naturally move around a room and it helps make the digital feel real.  

The spatial audio adds to the sense of place in a big way. No matter the scene you are in, sound plays an important role. In a forest scene, it could be the sounds of nature, with birds chirping in every direction around you.

When you are in a meeting room, the sound comes from other people in the room very naturally and mimics the sound of being in a room with a group.

The quality of the sound truly enables better communication and more natural conversation. There is something about it that just feels more intimate. 

Using Horizon Workrooms for Productive Meetings

Meta’s work meeting room product, Horizon Workrooms, is a simple and effective meeting space, tailor-made for work meetings. 

The options for room configuration are relatively basic, but they all look great and function well. The table arrangements and room configurations all create a different vibe, so try out a few until you find one that feels right for you and your team.

There are two features that really stick out as useful in the Workrooms product: screen sharing and the whiteboard.

Screen sharing, when paired with the Oculus desktop app, is relatively easy. Everyone in the room will see your screen as if it were on a wall-mounted TV in a physical meeting room. 

This screen sharing approach is so cool because it lets everyone see shared content, but the room still functions well for conversation. Typically on a web video conference, the shared content takes up the whole screen, making it hard to see attendees. 

With this approach, it’s more natural to have a discussion when content is being shared. This helps make information-rich content more natural and accessible. 

The whiteboard feature is also well done. There are two modes to use the whiteboard: standing up at the board, and desk drawing. 

When you go stand at the whiteboard, you can go solo or anyone in the room can join you at the board. When an attendee stands next to you, you can very much feel their presence and, as you would expect, the audio from that attendee shifts to sound like they are standing to your right or left. 

If you don’t want to rise to go up to the board, you can also draw on the whiteboard by using your desk as a canvas. Anything you draw on your desk canvas will be reflected on the whiteboard in the room.

These standout features do help make working in the metaverse natural, more collaborative, and, in many ways, more engaging. 

Where Oculus Can Fall Short

Like Zoom, being in a meeting that goes for more than an hour is really pushing the limit of what is enjoyable. 

After wearing the headset for that long, even though the unit is relatively lightweight, you are ready to take it off. A lot of it, at least in my experience, is the strain on the eyes. 

The other challenge for using Oculus for work is the price tag. It’s priced modestly at a $299 entry point, but that’s still a cost above and beyond a computer (which most employees already need and use heavily) and free web video conferencing software.

In Summary

The Oculus is a surprisingly great tool to add to your work toolkit. If you have a remote team and are looking for ways to make the team feel closer and more collaborative, the Oculus can help move you and your team in that direction.

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