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The Covid-19 pandemic had provided a market opportunity for VR meetings and collaborative platforms. Since the lockdown started, there has been a significant increase in demand for remote working, virtual conferencing and other collaboration tools.

These platforms have not only served to communicate with our colleagues, but they have also been an escape route to interact with family and friends in “virtual social gatherings”.

Why use VR/AR technologies for virtual meetings?

With these platforms, it is easier than ever to organize and attend events, classes, meetings or conferences in an effective way. By wearing a VR device it is possible to transport oneself to a virtual space, where all the necessary resources to provide a powerful and unforgettable experience are present.

Immersing ourselves in simulations causes that the attention is reinforced by the fact of experiencing the complete process. With some studies pointing at almost 10% higher information recall accuracy using a VR headset versus a desktop device, the user is free from any outside world distractions.

Also, the use of VR meeting platforms allows companies:

  • To save money because of the unnecessary arrangement of physical space.
  • To offer a healthier work-life balance for employees. As business travels and airports are found to increase stress levels, reducing travelling time enables one to work more effectively and enjoy a higher quality of life.
  • To be more eco-friendly. The travel sector accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions. Therefore, by travelling less, the individual carbon footprint is reduced and there is a lower environmental impact.

XR4ALL has analysed different European XR platforms within the meetings and virtual offices landscape. We have selected 5 of them to bring the European community fresh-perspectives on this vertical: Immersive VR Education, Arthur Technologies, MeetinVR, MeetingRoomIO and Connec2.

Immersive VR Education (Ireland)

Launched in 2015, the Waterford-based startup helps educators and companies host live meetings, presentations, classes and events in VR, with people across the world.

With their platform ENGAGE, VR training and experiences can be quickly created. It also offers the possibility to record sessions for later use, such as sharing or editing.

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Furthermore, the platform provides a broad number of tools (virtual objects, effects, virtual locations…) to customise the experience.

In March 2020, Immersive VR Education partnered with HTC to bring their annual conference, VIVE Ecosystem Conference (V²EC), to a VR experience for the first time. This allowed global visitors to fully attend the conference via the platform ENGAGE.

The collaboration successfully translated into a €3m investment by HTC investment’s vehicle, Vive X.

Arthur Technologies (Germany)

Launched in 2016, the Haar-based (Bavaria) Arthur Technologies offers collaborative VR virtual spaces.

By simply wearing a VR headset, one can design unique rooms to work on specific topics. With the help of tools such as whiteboards or mock-ups, productivity can be boosted.

Arthur Technologies set an example on the use of its platform by closing a financial round in one of their virtual rooms. With California-based investors and the startup personnel from Germany sharing the same virtual space, the agreement was ratified and signed in VR as a demonstration of the technology’s capabilities.

On that occasion, Arthur Technology’s founder Christoph Fleischmann, mentioned that “Virtual offices do not mean to abolish physical meetings or video calls. It is more about taking advantage of an entirely new form of communication and shared work. One that allows us to engage together in a virtual space that can handle much more complexity than existing solutions, opening a new way for remote teams to share ideas, knowledge, and information.”

MeetinVR (Denmark)

Launched in 2016, MeetinVR allows professionals to meet in virtual workspaces to collaborate, create and feel truly together with colleagues.

The Copenhagen-based startup enables activities such as brainstorming, sketching and team-building.

By a simple drag and drop, professionals can upload personal files like images, videos, audio, presentations via a virtual tablet and share them with meeting participants, to create memorable experiences.

Its platform is compatible with the following devices:

  • Oculus Quest
  • Oculus Rift/Rift S
  • HTC Vive
  • Windows Mixed Reality
  • PC Desktop Mode

As of today, they are offering early access for companies to be first to experience their virtual workplaces. In April 2020, MeetinVR was selected as the best XR startup by the board of investors at Laval Virtual World 2020.

MeetingRoom (Ireland)

Based in Dublin and launched in 2017, MeetingRoom connects enterprise teams via virtual meeting rooms, accessible from any device, allowing them to work and collaborate from anywhere in the world.

They offer different solutions for professionals, starting with a free plan that allows one to hold meetings up to 8 people per room. Additionally, they provide meeting room facilities, like whiteboards, clocks with different time zones, corkboards, or multimedia screens to facilitate the presentation of personal files.

MeettingRoom was recently selected as one of the top 2020 Irish startups to keep an eye on.

Connec2 (Netherlands)

The Almelo-based startup founded in 2019 enables users to collaborate with each other in the same virtual space.

The use of spatial sounds emulates a physical meeting in a realistic way. In addition, one can naturally use non-verbal language to reinforce the message.

For a fixed price per month, it is possible to use their multi-user platform to work collaboratively in a VR meeting room. Furthermore, via Connec2 SDK, one can create a customisable room from scratch, which caters to any of the team’s needs

Connec2 allows users to upload and use personal 3D files. The soft-launch of Connec2 took place at the Hannover Messe 2019.

About XR4ALL

XR4ALL is an initiative funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme to push the XR European industry forward. XR4ALL aims to become a meeting point for the EU XR community. Innovative and groundbreaking EU XR technology and research will be featured in the portal forging a competitive and sustainable ecosystem of European technology providers active in XR.

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Made in Europe: How will XR transform future remote working and collaboration? was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.