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Wondering how to manage your remote employees with a VR chat room?
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.
A VR business chat room: An emerging employee-centric VR use case
We are seeing the emergence of a new way to use VR, and that‘s VR chat rooms. This is an enhancement of management 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 chat room app to manage remote employees
When it comes to VR chat room app development, you need to take the following steps:
1. Agree on a project scope for a VR chat room app
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 for VR chat room app development
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 chat room 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;
- 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.
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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 VR solutions. Amazon Sumerian supports both Android and iOS.
Sumerian supports key VR use cases like employee education, training simulations, field service productivity, design, creativity, 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:
- Overall documentation;
- Sumerian scripting API reference;
- Amazon Sumerian user guide;
- Amazon Sumerian Tutorials.
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 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 chat room app needs a user-friendly UI. You need to consult appropriate resources for UI design. I recommend you use the following resources:
- The UI design rules of thumb;
- Human Interface Guidelines, which Apple mandates for the apps on its platforms;
- Material design guidelines for designing the Android app UI.
11. Developing the web app
Node.js enjoys great popularity. A vibrant developers’ community has created useful open-source tools and frameworks for Node.js.
- MEAN: This refers to MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and Node.js;
- MERN: This refers to MongoDB, Express.js, React, and Node.js.
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 for a VR chat room
I suggest that you code the Android app in Java. This language has been a mainstay in Android development, therefore, many Android developers have considerable experience with it.
Android app development involves the following steps:
- Use Android Studio since this is the popular IDE for Android app development.
- If the team needs guidance on using Java on Android Studio, they can read “Build your first Android app in Java”.
- Integrate Amazon Sumerian.
- Use Espresso and pCloudy mobile device lab to test the app.
- Publish the app to Google Play by following the instructions to publish an Android app.
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 a VR chat room app?
VR chat rooms can significantly improve productivity in your team by facilitating collaboration, however, building a VR chat room 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 have all the skills and expertise in building VR projects then why not take a moment to tell us about your project requirements via this link.
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
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;
• Organize official and community events for better team bonding.
The best communication tool is Slack which offers multichannel communication. It includes the ability to share files and other such features.
VR chat rooms 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.
VR chat rooms offer mini-games with an option of designing custom avatars, Users have their own VR acting studio to create a virtual world with other community members. They can also watch youtube videos. VRchat universe is an example.