VR and AR’s potential, too; each company has its own consumer-facing VR
and AR hardware.
Today, Oculus’ Rift headset and
Touch hand sensors retail for just under
$600. AR apps abound on smartphones.
Solutions like Sony’s PlayStation VR
and Samsung’s Gear VR headsets have
entered the market. More consumers—
and developers—are discovering the
power of VR and AR.
Except it’s no longer just for fun
and games; thanks to relatively cheap
and better technology, VR and AR are
poised to transform how we work.
VR and AR companies see the
technology as the natural evolution
COLLABORATION IS IN. From offices with open floor plans to new apps that promise to reinvent messaging and col- laboration, companies find
it buzz-worthy and attractive to the
bottom line when their teams work
Need proof? Messaging app Slack
has a $3.8-billion valuation. In January, collaboration app Trello was sold
for $425 million to software company
Atlassian. Tech heavyweight Amazon
in February dropped Chime, a Skype
and GoToMeeting competitor, seeing
a potential profit center in the already
crowded collaboration market.
Yet in the next few years, none of
these companies may matter at all.
That is a bold claim, but one that will
come true sooner than anticipated if
champions of virtual reality (VR) and
augmented reality (AR) technology
have their way.
VR places users in a virtual world,
typically via a headset that immerses
them fully in a digital environment. AR,
however, lays digital visuals over what
you see in the real world. Neither is
new, but only recently have the technologies become affordable—and powerful enough—for adoption by consumers and businesses, thanks to advanced
VR systems like the Oculus Rift.
The Rift headset immerses the user
in a digital world to a degree unseen in
the VR tech of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Oculus’ quality of VR was so impressive,
the company was bought by Facebook
for north of $2 billion in 2014.
At the other end of the spectrum,
simple but popular apps like the
smash-hit Pokemon Go put AR in the
hands of anyone with a smartphone. In
Pokemon Go, users hunt cartoon mon-
sters in the real world, walking around
their communities and interacting
with digital content laid over real im-
ages captured by their smartphone’s
camera. While the app does not match
Oculus’ degree of realism, it became
wildly popular nonetheless, break-
ing Apple’s App Store record for most
downloads in a week.
Facebook’s investment in Oculus
jolted companies into action, sending a market signal that VR was here
to stay. Pokemon Go’s popularity
proved that users were comfortable
with—and even keen on—AR experiences. Companies like Microsoft,
HTC, and Sony have acknowledged
Technology | DOI: 10.1145/3105444 Logan Kugler
Why Virtual Reality
a Workplace Near You
A clutch of companies are changing how work gets done—by using
virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.
Microsoft’s Hololens in use in a warehouse facility in The Netherlands.