Virtual Reality is coming to corporations, eventually
We are working to understand new technologies and trends: augmented reality, in-building navigation, virtual meeting rooms. Most importantly, we need to see how these new tools can help employees to work, develop and share ideas. Virtual reality allows people to experience interesting stories and interact in ways we can only dream of today.
For us, Virtual Reality technologies are an evolutionary step in the evolution of the corporate workplace. Our customer are beginning to change how they work and support their workers, moving away from the one desk per person concept to more organic and flexible office spaces.
We have all these tools at our fingers – Skype, mobile phones, tablets, cloud services. These tools allow us to get information whenever and where ever we need it. One piece that is still not really resolved is sharing a space with people in another location.
Finding the right tools
There are no tools that allow me the dynamic sharing of my room to remote users, or allowing me to pick and choose our own point of view. This can be a problem when we have a virtual workshop with a wall full of ideas; I would like to look at something other than the current speaker.
When we are dealing with complex data sets, we are limited by the laptop we are using and the beamer. Screen sharing is often limited to one screen. All of these aspects add up to a very limited work environment. In real space, we are immersed ourselves from our own perspective, but the tools are very limited when we work remotely.
Global companies are heavily investing in the next evolution of collaboration and community.
- Facebook would like for you to not just share content, but share experiences. Virtual Reality (VR) allows you to join your friends in the same space; so you’ll be together, see your friend and hear your friends laughing at the same silly parts of the movie.
- Microsoft would like you to be able to interact with digital information in the space where you work. With the Holo Lens, you can interact with your data. They are also developing a multi-user augmented reality experience.
- Leap Magic: working with Google and Hollywood to develop extraordinary experiences (see above: the leaping whale as a group experience).
- Different news outlets are starting immersive reporting, allowing me to choose my own perspective.
Swisscom and virtual reality
We feel this ability to share and be immersed in a shared space is an important next step in digital communication. Especially where companies are working to visualize information, Swisscom needs to be able to support this next level of virtual interaction: conferencing, sharing content, accessing data and working together in workshops.
In the beginning, we wanted to share a couple of cool places within Swisscom. We could have done this with images, but you can easily miss what makes the space itself special. Even more, we wanted to share why these spaces are important. Every good story begins with a story, why we are here:
Our project, simple steps
The Swisscom Brain Gym in Bern is a unique space, designed specifically to be flexible and inspiring. We worked with our Event and Media Solutions group to capture scenes and create a story that we can share with you. As we were building this, we began to understand there are many more possibilities available to us:
- share many different spaces within Swisscom, presenting stories as well as images,
- creating environments for people to experience at their pace,
- see places where people usually are not allowed, and
- bring fun into what can be a boring subject – a telephone company.
The advantages of VR
The advantages VR gave us was to extending the story telling potential. When you are telling a story through words and photographs, the reader has a single view, guided experience. With VR, we take you to our space. Our story is why space itself is important; VR gives the viewer the chance to get lost in something interesting.
We designed three experiences, the Brain Gym, our start up centre The Pirates Hub and a VR countryside. Designing good working locations in the Brain Gym, we showed how people need to have different setups to get their work done. The Pirate Hub was designed specifically to foster innovation, highlighting important steps for new product development. Lastly we designed a countryside to allow movement, placing little scenes to reward people who were curious.
VR brings a level of discovery and emotional connection not normally available with brochures or web pages. VR creates a place for investigation and a level of engaged story telling that is important for complex topics like workspace design. Mostly, we wanted something fun. A VR experience gives us a tool for exploration and if done right, a couple smiles while you find something cool along the way.
Sharing who we are is very important to us. We are working to understand new technologies and trends: Augmented reality, in-building navigation, virtual meeting rooms. Most importantly, we want to see how these new tools can help our customer become even better. We have some really interesting stories right here within our borders, we can help share them with the world.
A few examples: