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Most people think of the Meta Quest 2 as just a game console, despite Meta’s attempts to push it as a socialization and productivity device. That said, I think there’s a lot more that can be done with this technology — like changing the entire way we approach work or even arrange our offices. Does working on Jarvis sound appealing to anyone?
Virtual vs. “Virtual” Keyboards
In the Meta Quest 2, there are virtual keyboards — the one that appears when you want to search for something, which you can tap with your hand or use the controllers to point to keys — and the “virtual” keyboard, which is just your real-world keyboard placed into VR.
At the moment, only the Logitech K830 meets the necessary criteria. You can set this keyboard up and see it in VR, just like you would your controllers. This makes it the ideal choice for someone using the Meta Quest 2 as a remote workspace.
In time, I hope to see more keyboards integrated into virtual reality — or just the ability to add any keyboard.
A Vision for a New Workstation
Think of your current office layout. It takes a lot to keep it going; for example, mine consists of two monitors, a dock for my Macbook Pro, a keyboard and mouse, the desk it all sits on, the monitor mounts, etc. Setting up a home office isn’t an easy endeavor.
But what if the home office changed? There are applications for Meta Quest 2 that give users a taste of what that might be like. Immersed VR is one example. It lets you create up to five monitor windows for working in VR, and they all come straight from your home desktop. You can access your computer from anywhere, which makes it a great choice for traveling workers.
There’s even a truly virtual keyboard, but it leaves something to be desired. While hand tracking is incredibly advanced (and a far cry from what it originally was), I find myself wanting more seamless response times. The faster a typist you are, the more likely you are to see interference from the virtual keyboard.
Virtual Desktop is a similar app. It markets itself as an app for “low latency, high quality” streaming. It supports Bluetooth mice and keyboards, too, so you can use your home keyboard in VR (you just might not be able to see it.)
Up to four computers can be connected to Virtual Desktop so that you can swap between them at will; it’s an incredible tool for productivity, especially if you’re used to working on multiple machines at once.
These are just two examples of the productivity apps available on Meta Quest 2. There are plenty of others, and these let you do everything from type up word documents to mindmap, create flowcharts, and much more.
Windows, Windows Everywhere
The biggest appeal of a virtual workspace is the ability to have multiple “monitors” throughout your area. Remember that scene in Iron Man, when Tony Stark is flipping through different screens to find what he wants? He reaches up and moves a display to the side and it remains there. That’s possible in virtual reality.
Static displays can be set up so that you have a lot of information in one area. When you move your head away, you’ll have a lot of available virtual real estate, but the screens you moved will remain where they are. This is perfect for anyone doing research. Place all of your research materials on one side — no need for tabs, just open each page in a different window — and look to them as needed.
Trust me: if you sit in the middle of a room in your chair and work in a 360-degree space, it makes the workday feel totally different.
I have this mental image of science fiction writers sitting in the middle of an empty room wearing only a VR headset, with numerous windows placed around them. Their research of far-flung galaxies, an alien name generator and a dozen other subjects could be displayed all at one time while they type away on their story, spinning in their chair to look at their research as needed.
Monetizing the Metaverse
As much as I dislike the term, this vision of the workspace falls squarely into the realm of the Metaverse. After all, Immersed VR lets you sit in a virtual office space and interact with colleagues no matter where in the world you are located. There’s even a virtual whiteboard you can all use to brainstorm ideas.
You can even make use of a virtual webcam to speak with your coworker’s avatar, and phone integration means you can see your phone’s screen and check text messages without removing your headset.
The thing is, people like to personalize their workspace. There are a lot of monetization opportunities in the idea of a virtual office. For example, what if you wanted a specially branded keyboard? Maybe you want a virtual keyboard with a lot of RGB.
Companies like Razer or SteelSeries could sell virtual skins for your in-office keyboard. You could decorate your desk with sports memorabilia from your favorite teams. You could even have the Heisman sitting in your office for the low, low price of $20.
Okay, that last example was made up — but it’s just to paint of picture of the possibilities that exist.
Can you expect to work in VR within just a few years? Possibly — some companies (Meta especially) have begun to utilize these tools, but it’s still far from what it could be. The technology for tracking hand movements needs to be refined before it sees widespread use.
At the same time, virtual reality is still in its infancy. The past few years have seen the birth of some of the first “true” VR games and experiences. As more companies adopt the technology and take strides to improve the resolution and immersion, more people will try it out. Until that happens, though, you can probably still expect to go into the office on a semi-regular basis.