They say a picture is worth a thousand words – imagine how many words and time we could save ourselves if we used VR in presentations, at conferences, or in training sessions.
If you’ve ever given a presentation on a very specific, very descriptive topic, you might have thought: “Well, this would be a lot easier if I could just show people what I’m talking about. Not in a 2D picture, or a graph, or a pie chart, but in a form that’s a little bit more realistic. Like…in a 360° video or in virtual reality.” And you were probably right thinking that. 360° videos (videos which are recorded with a 360° spherical camera, recording the view in every direction at the same time and creating a form of virtual reality) or VR (virtual reality, a technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and mimics the user’s presence in the environment to allow interaction) are no longer a thing of the distant future or something that is only used in gaming and the movie industry.
VR has the potential to make our lives a lot easier
Over the past 5 years, with a myriad of start-ups raising significant amounts of money in venture capital, VR has slowly been entering mainstream application and commercial usage. It is now something that is, thanks to all the tremendous ways in which VR can improve participant engagement and human interaction and enhance experiences, used quite widely in, for example, medicine, education, and business. However, VR has the potential to make our lives a lot easier in many other areas, and using the technology in presentations may very well be something that will soon become a standard practice.
“Well, this would be a lot easier if I could just show people what I’m talking about. Not in a 2D picture, or a graph, or a pie chart, but in a form that’s a little bit more realistic. Like…in a 360° video or in virtual reality.”
Imagine a situation where you’re giving a presentation on, for example, the effects of climate change in the Amazon. Instead of demonstrating the effects on paper, you could take your participants to the Amazon and show them what happens in real life. Or take this situation: you are at a medical conference presenting a paper on diagnostics. Instead of going through wordy descriptions of a particular condition’s symptoms, you could use VR to help your attendees visualise the data you would in real life have to reach by conducting multiple tests, which makes this data easier to interpret and read, and demonstrates the process of reaching a diagnosis in a more immersive and interactive way. According to the Virtual Reality Society, VR is already being used in certain areas of medicine, including training of young doctors. With the rise in VR use and consequent decrease in the price of VR devices, we can only assume that in not-so-distant future, VR will reach common conference centres.
Unsurprisingly, VR is also already fairly widely used in education – and very successfully so. Schools in the US and in Europe use VR to teach sciences through interaction with dimensional objects, animals, and environments. Last year, Google launched its Pioneer Expeditions, which provides teachers with a kit consisting of everything they need to take the class on a virtual trip, including Google Cardboard viewers (the basic version costs only £15 – talk about affordability!) or Mattel ViewMasters that turn smartphones into VR headsets.
This Google venture is, in many ways, quite revolutionary, as it removes the very high cost of entry set by devices like HTC Vive, Oculus (both devices currently cost somewhere in the region of £600) or PlayStation VR (set to be released in October at £350) by employing technology that is currently a lot more affordable, and therefore eliminates the aspect that has so far been the sole most significant hinderer of the widespread VR usage across industries – the price of the devices.
Most tech powerhouses, including Apple, Microsoft, who have recently started shipping developer kits of their HoloLens, a device which augments reality by layering holographic images on top of what is seen of the actual world, and Samsung are working on creating devices that will make VR more available and, perhaps more importantly for the users, ultimately lead to its price being pushed down to the point when VR can become a viable option within all industries and fields.
But the practical uses of VR stretch far beyond science and education; in fact, VR has already proven helpful within the business environment too. Many companies routinely use VR to provide tours of their working environment, to train new employees, or to allow customers to view their products in 360° videos. They can (and do) also use VR to test their products or to help with data analysis and forecasting trends.
If you’re still wondering how exactly VR could improve your presentations and help your audience, make sure you check out CL3VER – an API that allows you to create and share 3D presentations – a possible ground-breaker in design and technology. And let’s not forget the audience, their experiences, and the way VR can improve their learning. While making your presentations clearer, more interactive, more demonstrable, the audience is in for a session that will be truly immersive, more engaging, and that will make them feel more involved. Having the presented topic quite literally at their fingertips can also significantly help learners who find traditional ways of learning unhelpful.
VR also offers a unique opportunity to practice your presentations
Last but certainly not least, VR also offers a unique opportunity to practice your presentations before you get out there in front of a real audience. The Presentation Simulator allows you to practice your presentation in front of a diverse, virtual audience, delivering a first-hand experience with how speaking in front of people with different behaviours and emotions feels, and helping you get used to the environment.
This is especially useful for people who are anxious about public speaking or presenting in front of a larger audience – I’m sure we’ve all been there before, and wished that we could practice with an actual audience, rather than with our own reflection in the mirror. As a matter of fact, VR simulators can be amazing tools for overcoming a whole variety of anxieties and phobias, be it a fear of driving a car, a fear of heights, PTSD, or even certain cases of depression.
With technology advancing at a crazy rate, devices and applications that were unimaginable 10 years ago are now something we use every day and can hardly imagine living without. So despite VR being, for some people, still seemingly futuristic, it is no doubt that it’s well within our reach and who knows, in a few years’ time we might all be sitting at our desks with an Oculus headset, taking in all the amazing experiences VR can treat us to.