Manage Your Remote Employees With VR Chatrooms

VR chatrooms

Wondering how to manage your remote employees with VR chatrooms?

You’ve come to the right place.

A Markets and Markets report estimates that the global virtual reality market will grow from $6.1 billion in 2020 to $20.9 billion by 2025. The report projects a CAGR of 27.9% during the same 2020-2025 period.

Besides representing a real chance to make a positive impact on people’s lives, innovating in this sector can be highly lucrative too. Here are a few amazing case studies of companies that hired DevTeam.Space to build similar products:

  1. Send Sonar – Social Media Web Application and Chatbot
  2. Influencer Marketing Solution – Influencer Mobile App
  3. Image Recognition System – AI Face, Sex, Emotion Recognition Software

Contents

The importance of VR in operational efficiency
VR business chatrooms: An emerging employee-centric VR use case
Creating a VR business chatroom app to manage remote employees
Planning to improve the productivity of your team with your VR chatroom app?

A brief note about the growing VR ecosystem

VR already has a rich ecosystem, and it’s growing. The following facts illustrate that:

  • Technology giants like Google, Amazon, HTC, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, and NVIDIA have already invested in VR. Facebook, the social media giant had acquired Oculus as a part of its VR investment and plan to use it to create its new ‘Meta’ universe.  
  • Users can choose from excellent virtual reality headsets like HTC Vive Pro 2, PlayStation VR, Valve Index, Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive Cosmos, etc. Many of them incorporate advanced technologies like full-body tracking.
  • Twitch, the popular streaming platform offers VR content. Steam, a popular platform for video games offers VR content too. Subscribers can buy VR games on Steam.
  • Companies like Owlchemy Labs, Luden.io, OZWE, Ubisoft, Force Field, Antler Interactive, Survios, and CRYTEK build VR games. They make different types of games including multiplayer games. Gamers can get great VR experiences, thanks to these companies.
  • Companies like Oculus provide SDKs for VR development.

The importance of VR in operational efficiency

Businesses often focus on high-profile consumer-centric VR use cases, e.g., gaming, entertainment, VR ads, etc.

The following are examples of other prominent consumer-centric VR use cases:

  • Potential buyers virtually “view” real estate properties;
  • Potential tourists virtually experience their destination.

A Globe Newswire report projects the global VR market to reach $84.09 by 2028. The report projects a CAGR of 44.8% during the 2021-2028 period.

However, VR also has important employee-centric use cases, e.g.:

  • Employee training: Jobs requiring complex operations require a significant amount of hands-on training, however, that‘s expensive. Many organizations are using VR simulation to reduce their training costs.
  • Prototyping during product development: Products requiring complex engineering require prototyping. Defense/aerospace hardware platforms are examples of such products. VR can help with prototyping.
  • Improving workflow: Realistic VR simulations can help product development teams. E.g., they can create the maintenance manual for complex products even before manufacturing.
  • Better collaboration: VR rooms can help employees in an organization collaborate better when they work on complex tasks.
  • Managing meetings: The nature of distributed teams and remote employees rules out the possibility of face-to-face meetings. However, VR enables team members to experience a meeting environment as close as possible to the real thing.

I explained these employee-centric VR use cases in “Benefits of building a VR app for your employees”.

Use of VR in social apps, and trending social VR apps

Different businesses use VR for different purposes. VR developers and content creators use VR for other purposes too, e.g.:

  • Creating anime;
  • Creating memes and emojis.

VR also has unconventional use cases too. E.g., experts are researching “Virtual Reality Therapy” to treat social anxiety disorder.

VR helps people to meet up via a virtual world. It can’t substitute making friends in real life, however, VR helps to bridge the gap.

Consider the following examples:

1. VRChat

An online virtual world platform, VRChat allows users to interact with others on this platform virtually. As a part of this functionality, VRChat allows users to create custom “avatars”. Users can create virtual worlds on VRChat. You can also play popular games like “Capture the Flag”, “Battle Discs”, etc. on VRChat.

2. Bigscreen

Bigscreen is a VR-based app that allows users to hang out with friends in a virtual world. The app offers excellent viewing and sharing capabilities. For example users can watch movies with friends in this VR app.

3. AltspaceVR

AltspaceVR is a popular VR app to meet up with friends virtually. Users can attend live shows and classes with others using this app. You can host your own events using AltspaceVR.

A brief note about popular VRChat worlds like “The Great Pug”

Any discussion about VR social apps would be incomplete with mentioning a few popular VRChat worlds. These are virtual worlds accessable via the VRChat app. The following are good examples:

  • “The Great Pug”: “The Great Pug” is a well-known map and VR bar on VRChat. Owlboy, a VRChat community member, created it.
  • “The Black Cat”: “The Black Cat” is a popular virtual world on VRChat. It has a virtual restaurant, two virtual bars, two virtual stages, and several virtual lounging areas.
  • Big Al’s Avatar Corridors”: This is a popular virtual world on VRChat used to find “avatars”. You can find over 200 “avatars” from popular video games and cartoons.
  • Japan Shrine”: A well-known map on VRChat.
  • Spookality”: This is not a VRChat world, however, it’s a seasonal jam on VRChat. People can display their creative talent to celebrate Halloween together virtually.
  • The Metaverse”: “The Metaverse” also isn’t a VRChat world. It refers to the primary roleplay setting of VRChat. “The Metaverse” is a collection of alternate realities on VRChat.

VR business chatrooms: An emerging employee-centric VR use case

We are seeing the emergence of a new way to use VR, and that‘s VR business chatrooms. This is an enhancement of managment meetings using VR, and includes productivity aids, e.g.:

  • You can offer whiteboards to participants.
  • Participants can share their screens.
  • You can offer a text chat feature.
  • Meeting participants need to exchange files.
  • In a meeting involving a product engineering team, you could enable them to modify a 3D model.
  • You need to provide tools for running presentations.

You could also invite other stakeholders such as sales representatives and have them take a look at the prototype. This can help aid them in meetings with customers, etc. Read “Benefits Of Building A VR App For Your Employees” for more details.

Creating a VR business chatroom app to manage remote employees

When it comes to chatroom app development, you need to take the following steps:

1. Agree on a project scope

You need to ensure that the business and software development teams agree on the project scope, and I recommend the following additions to your scope:

  • Offer VR collaboration and chat features;
  • Build a web app, an Android app, and an iOS app with the above-mentioned VR features.

2. Select the right SDLC model

If you are embarking on this project as a part of a large transformation to improve productivity in your company, i.e a new training simulation, then this is likely a very important project. You and the other senior leaders in the organization will want total visibility of project progress. This requires thorough reviews after key milestones.

Given that such projects have well-defined requirements, I recommend that you use the Waterfall SDLC model for this. You can have structured reviews after every phase to mitigate risks. I talked about this in “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.

What if you don’t have the requirements finalized for the VR chatroom? You might launch an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). It’s a functional product with minimal features. You test your product ideas by launching an MVP. Based on the feedback, you can enhance the product.

Such projects involve iterative development. You should use the “Agile” methodology for such a project.

3. Project team formation

Onboard a project manager (PM), a software architect, and a few business analysts first. This team should define and plan the project. Onboard the remaining roles based on the project plan.

For a high-visibility project like this, I recommend that you hire a field expert development team. I have explained the benefits of such a team in “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams”.

You need the following roles in addition to the PM and IT architect:

  • UI designers;
  • VR developers;
  • Web developers;
  • Android developers;
  • iOS developers;
  • DevOps engineers.

VR developers need to have the following skills and competencies:

  • SDLC knowledge;
  • Familiarity with AWS managed cloud services;
  • Knowledge of VR development tools;
  • Familiarity with web, Android, and iOS development;
  • In-depth understanding of testing and DevOps;
  • The ability to collaborate with testers and DevOps engineers.

You can read “How to hire VR developers – the ultimate checklist” to learn more about VR development skills and competencies.

4. Formulate a development approach

The PM and software architect should work together to formulate an effective development approach, and I recommend the following:

  • Use AWS Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) platforms. You don’t need to manage the IT infrastructure with this approach.
  • Build the core VR features using a reputed VR development tool, which expedites the project.
  • Enhance the test coverage with a test automation aid.

Read “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” to understand the value of this approach.

5. Estimate the project

You need to estimate the following cost components to arrive at the project cost estimate:

  • Development manpower across phases like requirements analysis, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Development and testing tools;
  • Administrative costs like hiring, travel, etc.

Read “How much does it cost to build a VR app?” for details about this estimation.

6. Sign up for the AWS PaaS platform

You will build a web app. Sign up for AWS Elastic Beanstalk. It’s the PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) platform from AWS. A PaaS platform offers multiple advantages, e.g.:

  • A PaaS platform manages the cloud infrastructure, networking, middleware, operating system, and runtime environment. This enables you to focus on web app development.
  • You don’t need to hire a cloud platform architect.
  • It‘s easy to integrate databases and 3rd party APIs in your app when you use a PaaS platform.
  • You can use the application performance monitoring (APM) and auto-scaling solutions offered by a PaaS platform. This helps in scaling your web app.
  • Reputed PaaS platforms offer robust DevOps solutions, which help in continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD).

I explained these advantages in detail in our guide to PaaS providers.

7. Sign up for AWS Amplify

AWS offers AWS Amplify, a Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) platform. I recommend that you use this for mobile app development. MBaaS platforms offer plenty of advantages, e.g.:

  • They manage cloud infrastructure, networking, and persistent storage.
  • You don‘t need to develop and manage the mobile backend, therefore, you don‘t need to hire backend developers.
  • MBaaS providers make it easy to implement features like user management, push notifications, and security.
  • You can easily integrate 3rd party APIs.
  • An MBaaS platform makes it easier to scale a mobile app.
  • There are several mobile platforms and many devices, which adds to the complexity of mobile app development. You can manage this complexity easily with an MBaaS platform.

Read “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?” to understand the advantages of MBaaS platforms.

8. Get Amazon Sumerian for building the VR features

Let‘s now talk about building the core VR features in your VR chatroom app. I recommend that you use a reputed development tool for this, and Amazon Sumerian is the right choice.

A key advantage of Sumerian is that it supports all key VR platforms like Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, Lenovo Mirage, etc. Amazon Sumerian is ideal for building mobile VRsolutions. Amazon Sumerian supports both Android and iOS.

Sumerian supports key VR use cases like employee education, training simulations, field service productivity, design and creative, etc. Each of these use cases requires collaboration. This shows why Sumerian is ideal for building a VR chatroom app.

You can use the following resources to learn Sumerian:

9. Sign-up for pCloudy mobile and web browser testing lab

You need to ensure that your app works with all relevant mobile devices and web browsers. For this, you need to test it with many devices and browsers. You can’t do that easily with open-source test automation frameworks. 

Sign-up with pCloudy. The company offers a mobile device and browser lab on the cloud. This lab allows you to test with many combinations of devices and browsers. pCloudy integrates seamlessly with popular testing tools like Espresso, XCTest, etc.

10. UI design

The VR chatroom app needs a user-friendly UI. You need to consult appropriate resources for UI design. I recommend you use the following resources:

11. Developing the web app

Use JavaScript for web development. You can use it with HTML and CSS for front-end development.

JavaScript also has a rich ecosystem. You can use popular web frameworks like Angular or React.js. You can use jQuery, a popular library. These expedite the front-end development.

Use Node.js for back-end development. This open-source runtime environment for JavaScript helps to create scalable and performant web apps.

Node.js enjoys great popularity. A vibrant developers’ community has created useful open-source tools and frameworks for Node.js.

There are very popular JavaScript-based technology stacks, e.g.:

  • MEAN: This refers to MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and Node.js;
  • MERN: This refers to MongoDB, Express.js, React, and Node.js.

Many programmers know the JavaScript ecosystem very well.

Do the following for web app development:

  • Use popular IDEs like Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA to code.
  • Add databases to your app by following the AWS Elastic Beanstalk guidelines.
  • Integrate Amazon Sumerian and the VR assets that you created.
  • Test and deploy the app using the AWS DevOps tools. Follow AWS Elastic Beanstalk application deployment guides.

12. Code, test, and publish the Android app

I suggest that you code the Android app in Java. This language has been a mainstay for Android development, therefore, many Android developers have considerable experience with it.

Android app development involves the following steps:

13. Developing the iOS app

Use Swift to code your iOS app. It’s a modern, powerful, and feature-rich programming language. Many iOS developers know it, and Apple prefers it.

Take the following steps to develop the iOS app:

  • Code the app using Xcode, i.e., the IDE used by developers to code apps for Apple platforms.
  • Integrate Amazon Sumerian in your code.
  • Test the app using XCTest and pCloudy mobile device lab.
  • Submit the app to the Apple App Store by following its Apple Developer guidelines.

Planning to improve the productivity of your team with your VR chatroom app?

VR chatrooms can significantly improve productivity in your team by facilitating collaboration, however, building a VR chatroom app can be complex. Consider engaging a capable software development company, and read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” for due diligence.

If you are lacking the developers or dev teams that you need that have all the skills and past expertise in building VR projects then why not take a moment to tell us about your project requirements via this link so that one of our dedicated account managers can get in touch to answer any questions that you might have and show you how our community of experts can help.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you manage employees working remotely?

You will need to cover the following steps:
• Set up both group and individual chat channels
• Outline clear goals and targets for employees
• Monitor employee performance
• Ensure that employees are well trained in the systems being used
• Be on hand at all times to help.

What are the best remote management tools?

The best communication tool is Slack which offers multichannel communication. It includes the ability to share files and other such features.

Are VR chatrooms best for managing remote employees?

VR chatrooms are very powerful tools as they allow for teams to interact in virtual environments such as call centers etc. Such environments boost participant interaction as they place them in a work-like environment and help to prevent distractions.

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