Nathie Looks at YARTVRA Apps: Nineteen Virtual Reality Apps for Remote Work and Education

Yes, I am still on my little one-man crusade to make the acronym YARTVRA a thing!

For those of you who are new to my blog, YARTVRA is short for Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App, that is, any social VR platform primarily intended for business use, to bring together people who may be working remotely into a shared virtual office space.

Nathaniël de Jong (a.k.a. Nathie) is a well-known Dutch YouTub influencer with over 558,000 subscribers, who often posts review videos of the latest and greatest VR hardware and software on his channel. A couple of days ago he decided to take a look at, yes, YARTVRA. Obviously, this market segment has received a lot of attention lately because of the global public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which is probably why Nathie decided to make and release this video.

Nathie actually manages to squeeze no less than 19 different platforms into this 20-minute video, which unfortunately means that he only talks about each platform in a very brief and general sort of way for about minute, before he promptly moves on to the next one.

After a while, the relentless succession of all the look-alike business-oriented YARTVRAs, in particular, tends to overwhelm rather than inform. (ENGAGE still manages to stand out from the crowd in this video, though. And Oxford Medical Simulation definitely gives me some rather creepy uncanny valley vibes.)

Oxford Medical Simulation (image taken from their website)

Nathie appears to have taken as his starting point the recent Road to VR article, 34 VR Apps for Remote Work, Education, Training, Design Review, and More, and, much like the article, he breaks the various platforms down into four groups as follows (with links to their websites, courtesy of the credits in his YouTube video, and also links to where I have written about the products previously on this blog):

Team Collaboration and Presentation Platforms
– MeetinVR https://meetinvr.net/ (which I blogged about here)
– Glue https://glue.work/ (which I blogged about here)
– Connec2 https://connec2.nl/en/ (which is new to me)
– MeetingRoom https://meetingroom.io/ (which I blogged about here)
– Dream https://dreamos.com/ (which I blogged about here)
– VSpatial https://www.vspatial.com/ (which I blogged about here)

Social VR Platforms (those which Nathie thinks could, at least theoretically, be repurposed for business use)
– AltspaceVR https://altvr.com/ (blogged here)
– Bigscreen https://www.bigscreenvr.com/ (blogged here)
– Mozilla Hubs https://hubs.mozilla.com/ (blogged here)
– Facebook Horizon (currently in closed alpha testing, and a non-business-oriented product, so I’m rather mystified as to why Nathie chose to include it in his overview; blogged about here)
– VTime XR https://vtime.net/ (blogged about here)

Education and Training Platforms
– ENGAGE https://engagevr.io/ (which I blogged about here)
– Oxford Medical Simulation https://oxfordmedicalsimulation.com/ (which I blogged about here)
– Rumii https://www.dogheadsimulations.com/rumii (which I blogged about here)
– Acadicus https://acadicus.com/ (which I blogged about here)
– Wonda VR https://www.wondavr.com/ (which I blogged about here)

Design, Creation, and Prototyping Platforms
– Sketchbox https://www.sketchbox3d.com/creation (which I have not yet covered)
– The Wild https://thewild.com/ (blogged here)
– Softspace https://www.softspace.io/ (which is also new to me)

So between Nathie’s video and the Road to VR article, I now have a whole bunch of new YARTVRA to explore! Expect more blogposts soon, to add more products to my ever-growing list of social VR platforms and virtual worlds.

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Spinview: A Brief Introduction (Yet Another YARTVRA)

Yawn. Here we go again…

YARTVRA: Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App. 

And yet another boring, cookie-cutter corporate website where it appears the owners haven’t even bothered to swap out the lifeless, generic default clip art. And yet another platform which is only nebulously described by its company:

You can use Spinview’s social VR space to immerse your team in a real-world learning environment for effective and engaging training without them leaving their desks, let alone their city. In our environment up to 8 people can focus and communicate with each-other in real time. They can work together, train together, research, plan and more. You can create a workspace designed to encourage a culture of sharing without the cost and time taken to get people physically in the same office. With Spinview, 8 heads can easily be better than one.

Again, absolutely zero technical details of their platform, and no mention of which VR hardware is supported. Just a lot of handwaving, and a cookie-cutter contact form, complete with more uninspiring clipart and vague suggestions of possible corporate uses for the Spinview platform:

VRFocus reported in November 2018 that the company acquired Agority, another social VR platform I had never heard of before:

Spinview, a company that concentrates on VR for business use has purchased immersive social platform Agority as part of its continued expansion.

The aim of the purchase is to offer businesses a new way to communicate and collaborate, letting teams inhabit a virtual area together, even if they are miles apart.

And Spinview’s corporate blog has not been updated since October 2018 (no news of the acquisition). Since then, radio silence. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Spinview, like all the other YARTVRA I have covered on this blog, is having some trouble signing up paying customers. The list of companies who want to sell VR products supporting remote workteams is getting rather ridiculously long (you can see a list of other YARTVRA platforms in this earlier blogpost).

Let me say this again: High Fidelity has already decided that there’s not enough corporate interest in a remote workteams app to continue operations, and they are essentially shutting down as of January 15th, 2020. If a company that has raised $72.9 million in venture capital and has an actual working platform can’t make it happen, companies that can’t even bother to keep their websites up-to-date and demonstrate to their potential customers that they have any sort of deliverable product are doomed to failure.

Flowtropolis: A Brief Introduction

Flowtropolis is YARTVRA: Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App. (Yes, I am still trying to get the acronym to catch on!)

On their website, there’s lots of handwaving about the benefits of remote teamwork and various applications of virtual reality to the office, but precious little detail about any actual products. According to their website:

We are currently building the Flowtropolis platform and will soon open up for our wider community to take it for a spin during the fall of 2019. Please hold on, it´s going to be worth it!

Well, autumn has come and gone, and there’s still no concrete details on what this platform is all about. Absolutely zero information on what VR headsets it supports, for example. The company does offer a link to a form to fill out, for customers interested in what they call “co-creation opportunities”. Hmm.

It all sounds rather suspiciously like “contact us with your ideas, and we will build it for you”, as opposed to an actual deliverable. If you’re interested, you can contact Flowtropolis, but be sure to also check out my list of other YARTVRA platforms before you make any decisions.

This is still a nascent, rapidly-evolving marketplace, and High Fidelity has already decided that there’s not yet enough corporate interest for it to market a product for remote workteams. I suspect that we are at least a generation away from the more widespread use of remote workteams in VR/AR/MR/XR at most corporations. Most companies still expect their employees to commute to a central, shared office space to do their work.

Mixtive’s VR Conference: A Brief Introduction to a Social VR App for Meetings

Mixtive is a Swedish company which has partnered with Telia Company and Sony Mobile and create a 3D meeting service called, simply, VR Conference. Yep, another example of YARTVRA: Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App.

Here’s a few videos of the platform in action:

Note how awkward the hands on these avatars look! Using Telia VR ConferenceSony 3D Creator, and Shadow Avatars, users can create a 3D avatar that resembles them, although the results do have that creepy Uncanny Valley aspect to them (there’s no audio on these two videos):

According to their website, Mixtive’s VR Conference app supports the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets, as well as iOS and Android apps. You’ll have to contact Mixtive via their website to obtain a copy of the software to test, and to get pricing information.