Insights From The Blog

How interactive, real-time AR could change the future of video calling?

Over the last couple of years, with the virus raging, you will no doubt have noticed that video calls became a common, if not regular, aspect of many people’s business and personal life. Whether it was a virtual pub crawl with buddies from across the nation or just a family check-in, those encounters were almost certainly taking place through some kind of video conference facility.

Early in the COVID pandemic, we became more accustomed to video calling and more reliant on it to power our social interactions. These became a necessary part of most people’s lives, but developers have recognised an opportunity to reimagine and improve the experience, thereby transforming how people use video calls in a variety of contexts.  

Many of us will acknowledge that long online meeting, spent staring out at a computer screen full of our work colleagues, all staring back at us is a tiring experience, made worse by the fact that we can’t just slip off for a nice cup of tea, because the boss is watching. As the work environment changes, many will have been thinking about the not-too-distant future. They see a time when our working from home lives will hopefully be unencumbered by the brain fog – or Zoom fatigue – caused by staring down the barrel of a laptop camera at flat, 2D images of ourselves, our colleagues, and our clients for nine hours or more a day – yeuch!! For some forward-thinking companies, this is an area where virtual systems can practically help out.

Video interactions are one of the biggest growth areas of AR/VR Apps in social situations, so is it credible that virtual video calling will become the normal way to meet up with people who are not just around the corner?

Before your face falls and you mutter that VR video is just like the current real-world system, only with avatars in place of your colleagues’ tired images, think again. There are a growing number of bespoke video workspaces available, and they are becoming an exciting prospect. Unlike traditional augmented reality effects, which were mostly one-at-a-time interaction, these new interactive, real-time video-calling effects enable users to really engage. They may also serve as a compelling cause to join a video conference, and to foster a new bonding experience for everyone involved.

Meta is already considering the future of video calling in an AR-way, and their ultimate vision is one of people sharing experiences in virtual environments. This fits well with their vision for the Metaverse, where people will enter virtual environments at the start of the working day, and spend their time connecting with others in realistic workspaces, but with the added benefits of being relaxing and incentivised – places that you really want to work in. The days of meeting in drab, grey offices in Stevenage or wherever are going to be replaced by light and airy chill-out areas on the 200th floor of an impossibly artistic megastructure, or just about any other fantastic environment that you can think of. 

But some workplace strategists are becoming more daring in their fantasies, even going full sci-fi Hollywood with holograms and mixed-reality spaces. There is plenty of workplace psychological evidence to back up the idea that happy people are productive people, and workers are happiest when they are relaxed. With AR/VR systems, the potential for working in a relaxing environment becomes a nurturing one, where there is an increased emotional connection, and that is a real positive. Many psychology studies have shown that relaxed people are more motivated and have a higher degree of creativity, so it makes sense to drive online meetings – which are now an integral part of the workplace – into virtual areas, where participants are engaged and their creative juices flowing.

With AR/VR hardware now readily available, and the Metaverse growing at an astonishing rate, now is the time to get your business into virtual meetings in interactive environments; anything else would be madness…!