How VR and AR Can Improve Conference Calls And Business Meetings

Communication with both customers and employees is crucial to the success of any business, no matter what the industry!

Ineffective business conferences and meetings add practically no value to companies since they almost guarantee an insufficient flow of information.

At the same time, the growing need for distributed teams, globally dispersed customers, and the desire to achieve results at speed and scale, make it increasingly hard to engage customers and employees face-to-face.

While no one can deny the effectiveness of face-to-face interaction, businesses can’t sit idly when it is not functionally possible to arrange.

As a result, businesses are turning to technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to make conferences and meetings more effective.

If you are a business leader trying to gain more from your remote meetings, this guide on how VR and AR improve conferencing and business meetings is a must-read for you!

Contents

Challenges to conferencing and meetings in businesses
A brief introduction to VR and AR
VR and AR use cases
The market for VR and AR technologies:
An example of AR/VR meeting solutions
Creating a VR/AR conferencing and meeting app
Planning to implement VR and AR for conferencing and business meetings in your organization?

Challenges to conferencing and meetings in businesses

Businesses face several challenges to conduct conferences and meetings, e.g.:

  • As they grow, they are more geographically dispersed, which makes face-to-face meetings harder and more expensive.
  • Many team members work from home.
  • It can be hard to create and maintain video conferencing infrastructures.

Read more about this in “Eight challenges solved by cloud video conferencing”.

Even if you spend the time and money to build the video conferencing infrastructure, there are additional challenges, e.g.:

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  • It’s hard to overcome the cultural barriers in virtual teams.
  • Building trust in a virtual team can be hard since the physical distance makes it hard to understand non-verbal clues.
  • Time zone differences and technical issues with conferencing infrastructure make collaboration harder.

You can read “8 common challenges of video conferencing for virtual teams” to learn more about these challenges.

A brief introduction to VR and AR

Before we go into how VR and AR can help conferences and meetings, let’s briefly understand these technologies. There is a crucial difference between these two technologies.

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology, however, the term is also commonly used for referring to the environment it creates. In essence, it’s a three-dimensional (3D) environment created by computer programs, and the users have an immersive experience when using it. Read more about VR in “What is virtual reality?”.

On the other hand, augmented reality (AR) is a computing technology that superimposes digital content, e.g., sounds, images, etc. in the real environment we experience. Essentially, this technology doesn’t create an environment on its own and uses the physical environment that all are familiar with. Read more about AR in “What is augmented reality?”.

VR and AR use cases

There are several prominent use cases for VR and AR, and a few examples are as follows:

  • Businesses can create brand awareness about their products using VR and AR.
  • With a distributed workforce, training employees can be costly, and this is especially true for jobs that require hands-on training. VR and AR can help to create simulations, moreover, they offer immersive experiences. Many enterprises are already using these technologies for training their employees for complex hands-on jobs.
  • Companies can use VR and AR to offer customers an ability to test the product before they buy it, and this works well for complex products like automobiles.
  • Potential customers can use VR and AR apps to virtually try out interior design and furniture, and this helps businesses to engage their customers better.
  • Businesses can use VR and AR to bring people together in meetings and conferences virtually since these technologies offer a realistic experience and collaboration features.

You can read more about these uses cases in “5 top use cases for AR/VR in business, and how you can get started”.

The market for VR and AR technologies:

There is a growing market for VR and AR, and the following pieces of statistics illustrate that:

  • Zion Market Research estimates that the market for AR and VR will reach $814.7 billion in 2025 from $26.7 billion in 2018, with a CAGR of 63.01%.
  • According to Allied Market Research, the global AR and VR market will reach $571.42 billion in 2025, with a CAGR of 63.3% during the 2018-2025 period.
  • IDC projects a 69.6% CAGR for AR/VR during the 2017-2022 period.
  • A MarketWatch report forecasts that the AR/VR market will reach $767.67 billion by 2025, accompanied by a CAGR of 73.3% during the 2018-2025 period.

While estimates vary, all reputed market research organizations are projecting significant growth in the global VR/AR market.

An example of AR/VR meeting solutions

Let’s review an example of AR/VR meeting solutions to understand how your organization can benefit from such solutions. NuSpace from Imaginate Technologies is a good example, and it offers the following features and benefits:

  • You can use NuSpace for collaborative meetings, support & maintenance, design reviews, training, etc.
  • The 3D conferencing capabilities of NuSpace can be used in any industry.
  • Atom is the immersive meeting solution from the NuSpace platform, and it is compatible with VR platforms like Oculus and Hololens.
  • It offers collaboration features, and it works on any device.
  • 2D and 3D recordings, 2-way voice calls, sharing documents are some of its key features.
  • Atom also offers interesting features like distance measurement, grids for objects, realistic-looking avatars, etc.
  • Users can move, rotate, and scale objects when using Atom.
  • You can use Atom both in standalone and collaboration modes.

 

Creating a VR/AR conferencing and meeting app

Let’s now understand how you can create a VR/AR conferencing and meeting app for your organization. This involves the following steps:

1. Project definition and planning

As the first step, you need to induct a competent project manager (PM) to get going with the project definition and planning. The PM needs to hire an IT architect and business analysts, and work on the following:

Project scoping:

The PM, IT architect, and business analysts should define the project scope as follows:

  • A VR/AR conferencing and meeting app should offer features like 2D/3D recording, voice calls, collaboration tools, an ability to modify virtual objects, etc.
  • The app should work with key VR platforms like Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, Lenovo Mirage, etc. It also needs to work on key mobile platforms like Android and IOS.

You need to offer a web app, an Android app, and an iOS app.

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Building a team:

The PM needs to build the rest of the team, which will include the following roles:

  • UI designers;
  • VR developers;
  • AR developers;
  • Web developers with Node.js skills;
  • Android developers with Java skills;
  • iOS developers with Objective-C expertise.

You could be weighing between hiring freelancers vs a field expert development team, and our guide “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams” can help you to make a decision.

Deciding on the methodology

I recommend that you use the Waterfall SDLC model since this project will likely have a set of well-defined requirements pertaining to a VR/AR meeting solution. You would use the app in the entire enterprise, therefore, it’s an important project requiring reviews after key milestones. Waterfall works well for such projects, as I have explained in “What Is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.

Formulating a development approach

I recommend the following development approach:

  • Use managed cloud services platforms like a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for developing the web app, and a Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) for the mobile app development. This frees you up from IT infrastructure management.
  • Develop the app using reputed VR/AR development solutions since this will expedite the project.
  • Enhance test coverage using a test automation aid.

You can read “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” to understand the benefits of this approach.

2. Obtain platforms and tools for development and testing

As the next step, the PM should obtain the required platforms and tools as follows:

A PaaS platform for the web app development

I recommend that you use AWS Elastic Beanstalk for the web app development since this PaaS offering from AWS offers several benefits, e.g.:

  • You can focus on the development while Elastic Beanstalk addresses the cloud infrastructure, networking, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment.
  • It’s easy to integrate 3rd party APIs, moreover, you can also add database resources to your app easily.
  • Elastic Beanstalk has robust DevOps tools, and this helps with the testing and deployment.
  • You can scale your web app easily by using the auto-scaling solution from Elastic Beanstalk.

An MBaaS platform for the mobile app development

You need to focus on the UI design and development for the mobile app, moreover, it’s important to allocate sufficient time to implement the business logic. Given this, I recommend that you use AWS Amplify, i.e., the MBaaS offering from AWS since this frees you up from mobile backend development and management.

Amplify also offers other benefits, e.g.:

  • You can easily integrate 3rd party APIs, moreover, Amplify will manage the database resources you need.
  • It’s easy to implement security features when you use an MBaaS like Amplify, furthermore, you can easily implement user management.
  • Scaling a mobile app is easier when you use an MBaaS platform.

A VR/AR development solution

I recommend that you use Amazon Sumerian, i.e., the VR/AR development solution from AWS for this project. It has a robust set of tools for creating VR/AR apps. Sumerian is also compatible with all key VR platforms like Oculus Go, HTC Vive, etc., moreover, it supports iOS and Android.

Sumerian offers extensive documentation, e.g.:

You can find its pricing plan here, and your VR/AR developers can create the VR/AR assets using Sumerian.

A test automation aid

This project needs a test automation aid so that the team can test the web app against a wide range of browsers. It should also allow them to test the mobile app against a wide range of mobile devices, and pCloudy offers a robust solution for this. I recommend that you use the pCloudy mobile device and browser lab on the cloud.

3. Design and development of the web and mobile apps

Your team can now proceed with the design and development as follows:

UI design

The employees in your organization need a user-friendly UI, therefore, I recommend that you use the following guidelines:

Coding, testing, and deploying the web app

I recommend that you use Node.js, a popular open-source runtime environment for developing the web app. It helps in creating scalable and performant apps, moreover, the development team can achieve high productivity using the range of open-source Node.js tools and frameworks available.

Your team needs to take the following steps:

Android app development

You should use Java to code the Android app since many Android developers are experienced with this popular language. The team needs to take the following steps:

  • Use Android Studio, the popular IDE for Android development to code the app.
  • Integrate Sumerian in the code.
  • Use Espresso and the pCloudy mobile device lab to test the app.
  • Publish the app to Google Play, by consulting this guide.

iOS app development

I suggest that you code the iOS app using Objective-C, a feature-rich programming language that many iOS developers know very well. Your team needs to take the following steps:

  • Code the app using Xcode, which is the IDE that Apple recommends for developing apps for its platforms.
  • Integrate Sumerian in the app, subsequently, test the app using XCTest and the pCloudy mobile device lab.
  • Follow these instructions to publish the app to the Apple App Store.

 

Planning to implement VR and AR for conferencing and business meetings in your organization?

VR and AR can significantly improve conferences and business meetings in your organization, moreover, it’s possible to use platforms, tools, and frameworks to expedite the project. It’s a complex project though, and you should consider engaging a reputed software development company for such projects. Read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” before you engage a development partner.

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Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
I love all things blockchain and related to app development. What time I have when I am not busy writing for the DevTeam.Space blog of over 350 articles, I spend sitting around wondering what the future will look like 50 years from now.
Aran Davies