Using Bigscreen As a Remote Workteams Virtual Reality App

A user named PixelRouter posted the following picture to the Oculus subReddit today:

With a post titled Bought 4 Quests and a Rift S and so the sales guy wanted a pic. Will be using them for remote collaboration with my team using Bigscreen. We’ve come along way since DK1, he sparked a lively discussion about the merits of Bigscreen as an example of Yet Another Remote Teams Virtual Reality App (YARTVRA). You can see a short list of other YARTVRA here.

When asked why he had decided to go this route, he replied:

I used Bigscreen when it first came out for the Rift a couple of years ago and found it was amazing for collaborating on digital work of all sorts. I once spent four hours teaching people to build a basic Unity VR game, inside Bigscreen. The trouble was all the wires. Now with the Quest I am hoping it will be nearly as simple as setting up a zoom video call to have team members step in to our Bigscreen room to talk about what we are working on while able to present their screens…

I use Zoom all the time for video calls with potential business partners and it’s OK, but the thing that is great about Bigscreen is the sense of presence you feel with the others in the same room. It feels much more like a real-world, in-person meeting.

When one person said that VR wasn’t yet at a stage where this would be logical, PixelRouter replied:

I disagree. At least this is my tentative stance as I set out to try this out at my company. I’ve been an Oculus developer since 2013 with the DK1. I discovered Bigscreen when it first came out about two years ago. At the time I was Technical Director at a VR company in New York. Some days I worked remotely from NJ and would use Bigscreen to review code and designs, with people at the office in New York. It was awesome, except for all the wires and setup. Now, with the Quest, I think we have crossed that threshold where it really is practical to use VR to collaborate…

This is core to my experiment here. I want to see what we can make of this. I’m not a noob. I went through the “VR is the best thing ever” phase, on to the, “but it’s not there yet phase”. Things change, though. I think that, with the Quest, it may have just crossed that convenience threshold which will make this stick. We shall see.

And I have to admit, this is a perfectly valid use for Bigscreen, which I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to before. I always used to see Bigscreen as more of an entertainment app, but it could be used as a remote workteams app, too!

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The Wild: A Brief Introduction

Yep, YARTVRA. YARTVRA! (Yet another remote teams virtual reality app.) This one is rather imaginatively named The Wild, by a Portland-based company:

Here the focus seems to be on architecture and design:

Bring your work to life before it’s built​. Experience your 3D models at scale, and gain critical insights that come from working together in a shared virtual space.

According to a recent press release on the AECCafé website:

Today, The Wild launched support for Oculus Quest, adding Facebook’s newest standalone virtual reality headset to its growing list of supported devices.

The Wild is a VR/AR collaboration platform that allows architects and design teams to experience their work together at human scale, in real time, from anywhere in the world. Oculus Quest is the first all-in-one VR headset to hit the enterprise market. With this latest offering from The Wild, immersive collaboration is easier and more accessible than ever. The Wild’s mission is to help teams do their best work. For spatial design teams, that means being able to inhabit your designs long before they’re built—catching errors, gaining critical context, and making more informed decisions together.

Reviewing architectural and environmental designs at human scale is vital. With The Wild, teams can meet in real time with up to eight people, fully synchronized, from anywhere in the world. The Wild offers native sketching and annotation tools, is compatible with most 3D file types, and integrates with Revit and SketchUp. The software is cross-platform as well—users can access The Wild from VR, iOS, or desktop (macOS and PC).

The Wild supports the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets as well as the recently-announced Oculus Quest.

I’ll leave you with a cute, cheerful promotional video for the product:

STAGE: A Brief Introduction

*sigh* I’m officially coining a new acronym here on my blog:

YARTVRA = Yet Another Remote Teams Virtual Reality App

Now, repeat after me: YARTVRA (“YART-verr-uh”). Yes, you’ve got it!

Yep. I found another one. (Actually, more than one. This is just the first post for today.) This one is called STAGE, by a Munich-based company called vr-on:

STAGE describes itself as:

STAGE – the secure virtual reality collaboration platform where teams can watch, experience, and discuss designs and layouts as people do in reality.

Among the suggested use cases for the product are:

  • Design reviews
  • Layout planning
  • Training
  • Market research
An example of layout planning using STAGE

Here’s their pricing info (all prices are in Euros, per user per month, billed at the yearly rate):

One feature that their website has that I thought was quite interesting was a calculator for determining just how much money your company would save by using STAGE:

This is something that High Fidelity (and other YARTVRA firms) should consider putting on their websites (along with a detailed comparison chart of all their competitors, listing their platform features). Hint, hint…

Question: why is almost everybody in this promotional video using only one hand controller? Did they lose the other one? 😉

Immersed: A Brief Introduction (Yet Another Remote Workteams VR Application, and Why High Fidelity Has Their Work Cut Out for Them)

You know, if High Fidelity expects to break into the remote workteams market with their repositioned social VR platform, they are facing a lot of competition. Just today I stumbled over yet another remote workteams VR product on my Twitter stream, called Immersed:

The tagline in the image reads: “Immersed enables you and others to collaborate by immersing you into the same VR workspace!”. (I had to chuckle at the cartoon man on a tropical beach, merrily multitasking away under a palm tree in his VR headset! Who the hell does that?!??)

Here’s a brief promotional video for Immersed:

UPDATE: this blogpost was automatically cross-posted to my Twitter, where a critic immediately responded to this video, saying:

Vaporware, nobody needs that. If people wanted to share a code screen they can do that already, donning a headset and being an avatar brings little value and help to this in my opinion.

And I must say that I can’t argue with that. (Why would anybody want to wear a VR headset all day while writing software code?)

Immersed supports both the Oculus Go and the Oculus Quest (which makes it somewhat different from other competing products which require a PCVR solution, like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive):

Here’s their pricing model:

It looks like the company is charging a one-time US$9.99 fee for 2 collaborators, and a US$9.99-per-month fee for up to 7 coworkers.

Here’s a half-hour YouTube video by RaMarcus covering how to set up and use the 14-day free trial of the Elite level of Immersive (including using the product in an interview with the CEO of the company):

So let’s just run down the list of remote teamwork VR applications I have covered so far on this blog (all in varying degrees of market-readiness):

Probably only one or two of these firms are actually making money at this point (Engage seems to be doing well for itself, and Cisco has deep pockets). And that’s just a list of the business-focused platforms. Many other, more general-purpose, social VR platforms on my list of social VR and virtual worlds would also lend themselves quite nicely to corporate use as well.

High Fidelity is going to have to work extra hard to get noticed in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace. Let’s hope they have some good marketing people on their team, and a bit of luck on their side. They’re going to need it. This is not like Second Life in 2003, where Philip Rosedale and his team pretty much had the market to themselves. High Fidelity cannot automatically assume that people will flock to them and embrace them; they are going to have to earn corporate customers by making a better, more fully-featured product. They may have found the consumer market hard to break into; they might find the business market even harder still.

UPDATE Aug. 28th: I have been informed that Cisco has pulled the plug on their Cisco Spark project.