Has virtual reality reached the age of reason?

On March 17 and 18, the fifth edition of Virtuality took place in Paris, a trade show dedicated to virtual, augmented and mixed reality. On the agenda: remote work, professional training and digital twins, far from the playful experiments of their beginnings.

At the beginning of virtual reality, its main potential was envisioned in the field of entertainment, especially for cinema and video games. Today, regardless of the social aspect of metaverse, this technology is more oriented towards services for professionals. What does this evolution of virtual reality uses mean? How will the metaverse affect him?

From experiments to professional uses

The first edition of Virtuality, in 2017, was open to the general public. Virtual reality, which enjoyed media coverage tinged with curiosity and optimism, wondered about the extent of its potential in the health or industrial sectors. However, he focused on entertainment uses, be it 360° movies, video games or more unusual experiences. In one of the flagship booths, Birdly, the user lay face down in front of a fan and, waving his arms, acted like a bird flying over the buildings of Manhattan.

Five years later, things have changed. The Covid-19 pandemic has been there, as has the generalization of telecommuting. Many booths were dedicated to creating metaverse workspaces or professional training in virtual reality. Another demonstration of this technology with Wyca Robotics, a robot overcome by a 360° camera that allows you to visit distant places in real time. If the stand gave a demonstration with the aeronautical museum Aeroscopia located in Toulouse, this invention was also presented (above all?) as a way for professionals to visit factories abroad without having to travel.

Same observation for augmented reality and mixed reality, even if they never had entertainment as their primary objective. This trend has been confirmed, these technologies are mainly used for marketing or traceability.

A new tool for remote work training and meetings

The main argument in favor of creating offices in the metaverse is to be able to create cohesion and a common corporate culture for its employees around the world. Companies dedicated to these services, such as Bublr or Kwark, insist on all the possibilities offered by the virtual in terms of personalization, which go far beyond what can be done in the real world. According to them, embodying a character in a professional metaverse would make it possible to be more attentive than during simple video conferences. These companies also make it possible to create a showroom to present their products to customers in a more innovative way. Even if they were present in Virtuality, virtual reality is not really their priority. And for good reason, these metaverses should be easily accessible to employees, regardless of their devices (computer, tablet, smartphone).

This issue of material accessibility is perhaps the key to the evolution of the use of virtual reality. Between 2017 and 2022, using a virtual reality headset to play games or go on VR Chat has not become a fact of the majority, who still prefer traditional video games and social networks. Therefore, it was logical to move to a customizable service model for professionals.

Bublr has worked with All Rights Entertainment to create an enabling environment for selling their films remotely during the Cannes Film Festival. Thus, visitors can easily access images and trailers. (Bublr)

Virtual reality is applied in many areas of vocational training, whether hard skills such as safety procedures in industry or hygiene in the medical field, or soft skills such as management, conflict resolution and the fight against discrimination. Even if these are serious games, the gaming aspect is presented by the company as a means to engage students. Nor is it a question of replacing trainers, on the contrary: virtual reality training companies teach them how to organize this new type of exercise and how it can complement more traditional training.

More photorealism with comprehensive Numix tutorial. Here, an interference simulator in an Enedis power grid. Coaches can change learning situations and even cause hazards. (numix)

Historically, the show was dedicated only to virtual, augmented and mixed realities. But the original proposal has evolved: one of the future uses of virtual reality is the metaverse, it was essential that Virtuality expand its themes to blockchaincryptocurrencies and NFT. Therefore, many conferences have been held on these topics. First to explain these innovations to uninitiated professionals, but also to admit that no one really has an exact definition of the metaverse! The inclusion of cryptocurrencies and NFTs also turned the show towards economic and financial topics such as the interest of cryptos for investors or the integration of brands in the metaverse.

Some booths were dedicated to major metaverses, such as the French from The sandbox and checks from Victoria VR who sponsored the show. If the social and entertainment aspect was emphasized here and there – The Sandbox for example believed that they were working on new ways of playing – these platforms insisted a lot on the economic potential, especially in the virtual real estate market. At a time when concertsmovie screenings and exhibitions are already being organized in the metaverse, the future of virtual reality entertainment will surely play out on these platforms.

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