Interaction between Virtual Worlds and Reality
Mirror the City
The virtual world closest to us in our lives might just be within the “maps” provided by tech companies like Google and Apple. From exploring new travel destinations to navigating our way to meeting locations, we traverse mirrored cities on our screens before experiencing the real world. Recent research from Google, released at the end of January, aims to accelerate this “journey” in the digital realm. By synthesizing capture data from Street View and 3D views, researchers are reconstructing new virtual worlds to map outdoor environments in cities.
Traditional virtual worlds like Second Life and those depicted in movies such as Free Guy are increasingly becoming more lifelike with advancements in research. The “mirror world” lifestyle we’ve discussed is gaining a more “real” feel alongside these advancements.
Optimizing Communication with VR
During the pandemic, online services like Zoom and Google Meet have become common for interviews, reflecting the changed landscape of job hunting. While it’s easy to express dissatisfaction with limited communication on screens, in a world where the pandemic’s effects continue, the use of VR for interviews and web tests is likely to increase.
For companies, VR presents possibilities that weren’t feasible in the physical realm due to cost, time, and spatial constraints. SHRM (The Society for Human Resource Management) lists three advantages of VR in recruitment:
- Candidates can virtually experience specific job roles and workplaces.
- Companies can assess candidates’ practical skill sets.
- After hiring, candidates can receive training similar to real-life situations.
The evolution of interactions from flat screen exchanges to more immersive experiences is a key focus of VR. It’s not just about convenience in terms of cost, time, and space; VR also offers customization. This could be a step toward promoting equal discussions in a world where microaggressions based on differences like gender, religion, and race are concerns. VR might provide a safe space for people with insecurities, enabling confident communication.
By leveraging virtual spaces, traditional challenges can be addressed, and interaction efficiency can be enhanced. The digital shift accelerated by the pandemic has led us into an era of transitioning between real and virtual communication. As we navigate this boundary, we’ll need to explore how to present our “selves.”
Observing families during winter vacation travel, it’s evident that digital devices like iPads are keeping young children engaged. It’s becoming common to see kids engrossed in gaming consoles or tablets at restaurants, airport gates, and bus stops. While the equation “Digital equals bad” is still prevalent, addressing this equation becomes essential as the digital world continues to evolve.
According to THE CONVERSATION, 83% of parents believe that technology and digital devices negatively impact their children. Additionally, Pew Research Center’s survey reveals that parenting is more challenging than 20 years ago, with many parents attributing this to digital devices. Yet, the fact that children own an average of three digital devices and few spend time without them can’t be ignored.
The New York Times provides age-specific guidelines for managing digital use at home, emphasizing the importance of a “balance” between digital and real-world activities. Clear boundaries between online and offline interactions are essential as we navigate the digital society.
In a world perpetually connected to the internet, enhancing digital literacy in family education is becoming the norm. While enjoying the benefits of online activities, maintaining “family” connections remains crucial.
Navigating Stores from Home in the Future?
The pandemic has brought significant changes to our shopping behavior. With the increased adoption of online shopping, e-commerce sales in the US saw a 35% increase compared to the previous year. Interestingly, around 60-70% of consumers use both online and physical stores in their purchasing process. This hybrid approach may seem logical, but it also challenges the distinction between online and offline shopping.
E-commerce offers accessibility, speed, and efficiency in searching for and purchasing products. Physical stores allow customers to see, touch, and try products. The metaverse aims to combine these aspects into a single shopping experience.
Services like Amazon’s AR tool “Room Decorator” allow users to virtually place furniture and appliances in their homes using a smartphone screen. Additionally, virtual stores within virtual spaces are becoming more common. Platforms like “Obsess” provide the opportunity to shop virtually, offering interactions with products, details, videos, and backgrounds, blending online shopping with in-store experiences.
Virtual stores offer the advantage of 24/7 accessibility from anywhere. They allow users to access stores worldwide and experience their unique atmosphere. This offers a new way to combine personalized customer service with e-commerce. However, challenges like headset requirements and VR motion sickness need to be considered. The evolution of our shopping experience is a topic to watch as consumers.
Virtualized Communities and Loyalty
With the pandemic, the virtualization of communities has accelerated. From classes and internships to post-graduation work, everything has gone remote. While initially strange, this shift has become preferable to enduring daily commutes and crowded trains.
While individuals may welcome this trend, the challenges faced by communities (such as companies) shouldn’t be overlooked. Stanford Professor Sutton suggests that remote work could lower the psychological barrier to changing jobs. Simultaneously, many workers (like me) desire remote work. A survey conducted in the US in August found that around 41% of job seekers wished to work remotely for at least one day a week. Companies must confront this dilemma.
Virtual offices have gained attention. Meta’s VR meeting tool “Horizon Workrooms” offers a shared space that enhances creative communication. This tool might enhance a sense of belonging and loyalty.
Bill Gates predicts that physical offices will be absorbed by the metaverse in “two or three years.” Microsoft’s partnership with Meta through the integration of Teams and Workspace suggests a deepening involvement in the metaverse.
Virtual offices and meetings hold more potential than merely replacing physical spaces. They could stimulate members’ creativity, offer diverse expressions, and transform meeting workflows. Maximizing the positive aspects of virtualized communities is something to anticipate.