Immersive Virtual reality (iVR) has been a tool for communication and research for several decades. However, until now, it was generally not practical to experience collaborative iVR tools immersively without a heavy investment into a highly technical infrastructure. For the majority of users, remote meeting tools have been limited to simple webcams and 2D desktop displays, with minor implications for how included remote team members may or may not feel. Often times, these tools leave virtual participants feeling left out of collaborative efforts. The rise of inexpensive commercial immersive iVR technology means a revolution in for distributed workforces meeting remotely.
At the same time, today’s workforce environments are steadily becoming more distributed across the globe, calling for improved ways of facilitating collaborations at a distance, including geo-collaborations or collaborations at critical locations.
This idea of situating a remote collaborator’s experiences in the field, virtually, promises to enhance the understanding of geographically remote spaces. Newer technologies in iVR hold promise for providing mobile spatial experiences in real-time, without being tied to fixed hardware, such as systems in conference rooms.
We conducted an empirical evaluation using iVR technology on remote user experiences in a collaboration to identify the added value for remote collaborators. The findings suggest immersive capabilities improve feelings of presence in the remote locations and perceptions of being in the remote location increase feelings of team membership.