Yesterday morning, a small crew from Pixvana packed over 50 Oculus Go headsets into four hardshell suitcases and headed south into the center of downtown Seattle. (First, though, we got our blood pumping with a nice morning plank.)
We pulled up outside of PicMonkey, a Seattle-based online photo editing and design service CEO’d by Frits Habermann, an old friend and Adobe cohort of Pixvana’s CEO/Founder Forest Key. Like Pixvana, PicMonkey is leveraging cloud-based technology to democratize content creation, and has been recognized as a Top 100 website by PC Magazine and is lauded for its accessibility and affordability.
The reason for the visit was to share some of our latest demo content and discuss VR for training with a fellow local business while field testing one of SPIN Studio’s newest features. SPIN Guide allows users to direct an entire fleet of headsets in a central interface, synchronizing user experiences and gathering live analytics to create a unified, communal experience.
We were particularly excited to deploy SPIN Guide with PicMonkey because one of its prime applications is to make VR a communal experience, especially during training. Similar companies could use Guide to cast to the entire office simultaneously, unifying the experience and promoting discussion about a shared experience. Also, training administrators would benefit from Guide’s real-time analytics by keeping an eye on each and every one of their trainees’ experiences with tools such as heatmaps, gaze tracking, and more.
For this demo, we handed out preloaded headsets with a handful of spins that ran the gamut of the four key modes of training: place, process, product, and people. Over the course of half an hour, 48 PicMonkey team members were transported to a once-in-a-lifetime vantage point on CenturyLink Field, taught how to make espressos and lattes in closeup, received empathy-driven unconscious bias training, and took the reins navigating a tense conversation with an angry customer.
After demoing the content, the PicMonkey crew stuck around to discuss VR in a short Q&A with Forest. The few people that had previously tried virtual reality noted (with relief) how the technology has adjusted to reduce motion sickness and chatted about the sensory and physiological differences between VR and traditional video, and how VR might unlock completely new ways to use media for good. For example, based on a comment about a PicMonkey’s fear of heights, the group discussed how VR can be used for exposure therapy. The medium’s sense of presence lends itself to powerful, incrementally increasing exposures to a controlled phobic stimulus without any threat of actual harm, mitigating the effect the stimulus has in the long run.
The conversation then turned to the status of VR at large, specifically its past, present, and future. Since its genesis, VR has been hyped as the next big thing in gaming and at-home entertainment, and Forest explained why that hype has begun to shift. Quite simply, although VR is almost universally recognized, there aren’t enough VR headsets in homes to justify investing enough dollars for a consistent flow of high-quality content. Because of the dip in enthusiasm about VR as a consumer good, VR developers are investigating avenues other than at-home entertainment, including learning and development.
Looking back, this is hardly surprising. Enterprise organizations are in a far better position to invest in emerging technologies to create bespoke solutions to expensive challenges, especially because they have much more to gain by taking a financial risk. Personal computers and smartphones, for example, took their first steps in the business sector about a decade before they were commonplace for consumers. This fact, coupled with VR’s superpowers and its prowess as a high-caliber learning tool, make the medium suited to take enterprise tech by storm.
Thank you to the PicMonkey team for welcoming us in their (very chic) space and allowing us to demo the newest version of our product on them! Sharing high-quality VR experiences never fails to be a wondrous experience, especially with those who aren’t used to the medium. We were thrilled to demo business-relevant content with such a thoughtful group, and walked away with brand new ideas about SPIN Guide, VR in the workplace, and perceptions of the medium as a whole.
Interested in exploring VR for training? Request an online info session or in-person demo with one of our XR experts today.