Virtual Reality is a cutting edge technology that has so far mainly been used for entertainment and media purposes. You can play a lot of exciting games on your VR headset, but it can dust up during the busier times of your life.
Fortunately, the VR industry is evolving into more than just games. If you own a VR headset, you have access to a growing library of productivity apps. These programs are designed to improve your workflow or to support tasks in innovative ways.
Here is just a short list of virtual reality apps that can help you improve your productivity.
Different headsets, different software
The following apps are all native to the Windows platform, which means that these programs are largely unavailable to you as a user of Oculus Quest 1 or 2. This applies with the exception of Quest users who have access to Air Link. There may also be Oculus Quest-exclusive versions of the applications, so it's always worth a look. In addition, all of the programs listed are available for SteamVR.
1. Virtual desktop
Virtual Desktop is a solution to the generally clunky standard desktop viewers available for SteamVR and Oculus.
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If you've tried navigating your desktop using your standard VR software, you've likely noticed difficulty scaling the text, typing at a reasonable pace, or even left-clicking.
Virtual Desktop fixes all of that. It completely overtakes the experience of interacting with your desktop. It introduces intuitive and customizable controls for interacting with windows, scrolling, typing, and even managing files.
With a backdrop of your choice, Virtual Desktop lets you carry out all of your normal activities without reaching for a mouse and keyboard. It's ideal as a program to run passively over other work-related activities, or even as a way to just relax and enjoy your system's performance.
Highly customizable and with little performance impact, Virtual Desktop is well worth the price. Unfortunately there is no free version of this program.
Download: Virtual Desktop ($ 14.99)
In combination with the above, this application serves as the basis for every productive virtual room.
XSOverlay is the opposite of Virtual Desktop. Instead of bringing VR to your desktop, this program brings your desktop to VR.
To make it clear what this means, XSOverlay lets you create independent overlays of a monitor, window, or a separate application in each virtual room. A quick example of this would be to write a to-do list and strap it onto the virtual back of your hand.
With a low performance outlay and a multitude of options, XSOverlay fits into any virtual workflow you can imagine. It also comes at a low price.
Download: XSoverlay ($ 9.99)
NODA offers mind mapping functionality in a completely 3D space. Record ideas, link them together and watch your web grow more complex.
Mind mapping is a proven method of visually orienting your ideas. If it works for you, NODA will bring your brainstorming to a virtual room. It has all of the basic mind mapper features you would expect such as: B. customizing your idea nodes, text input, images and more.
When brought into 3D space, these mind mapping concepts can be implemented in a completely new way.
With something like XSOverlay, you can easily insert and pin reference sheets, documents, or any other important element for your workflow.
NODA is available free of charge, with an optional upgrade package for more functions.
Download: NODA (Free, Premium version available)
If you've ever had to use Microsoft Teams to do any business, you already know the shortcomings of modern day video chat. No matter the connection quality, collaborating with your team over a series of video chats is always far from ideal.
ENGAGE addresses at least some of these shortcomings. ENGAGE is itself referred to as a progressive communication platform and brings almost all functions of teams into a completely virtual 3D space.
This means that you and your team can hold meetings, share media, take notes and take minutes in your VR headset.
Of course, being in VR brings some additional benefits. You can hold your meetings in a virtual conference room and blow up your media with the projector. How about scribbling these notes on a real notepad and passing them around? You can even clap for a great idea.
The scope of ENGAGE may be somewhat limited at this time as it is unlikely that your entire team will have access to the required hardware. However, it is available for free in its basic configuration, so if you already have a headset it can't hurt to try it out.
Download: ENGAGE (Free, subscription available)
CalcFlow is a more specialized tool and is aimed at those trying to dig into or use advanced math concepts.
In CalcFlow you will find much more than just a VR calculator. With sample problems related to vector computation, parameterized functions, and linear algebra, CalcFlow aims to bring the process of learning or understanding advanced math concepts into VR.
CalcFlow allows you to manipulate math properties directly with your hands. You can also take notes and enter your own variables to edit the preferences.
Students and those working with these concepts will greatly benefit from being able to apply these models in a completely virtual space.
CalcFlow is free and with a low performance overlay it works great with applications like Virtual Desktop or XSOverlay. It also means that with a few YouTube video overlays, you can easily use this program to learn these principles by yourself.
Download: CalcFlow (free)
This is how you work in virtual reality
The concept of strapping on a headset and trying to do the real work can seem a bit strange to some. It is important to understand the benefits and limitations of introducing a virtual space into your workflow.
First, you need to keep in mind that a VR headset generates heat as it works. Therefore, working in a cool environment is strongly recommended. It is also a must to adjust your seat according to common ergonomic considerations.
When working with a VR headset, there are most of the things you would consider when setting up your own home office, including good posture, need to be considered. We've pointed out ways you can maintain healthy posture while working from home, so do take a look and save your back trouble in the future.
Also, make sure to keep your desk as clear as possible. At some point in your workflow, you will most likely still be using your keyboard or mouse. It is important to be able to access it quickly without the risk of anything being knocked over.
Finally, make sure your headset is properly adjusted and take breaks if necessary. Motion sickness is generally not a problem when you are seated, but it varies from person to person. Track how you are feeling and don't go too far.
A virtual reality workflow
VR can help in many different workflows, from writing to painting. With just the first two applications listed, you can create a virtual workspace that is much larger and more intuitive than your real desk.
When you find your niche, you will appreciate virtual space for its possibilities. It can turn even the smallest office into a truly infinite workspace.
From gaming to media to productivity: VR is slowly making its way into every possible industry. It brings creative new design and application methods with it, but it also has relatively high hardware requirements. Despite the cons, there is a very real potential that VR could be anywhere in the future.
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With VR and AR proving their capabilities in a number of disciplines, here's what to expect in the emerging technologies.
About the author
(4 articles published)
Jason is a former freelancer and tech blogger. He is motivated and knows all areas of technology and has the desire to make things easy and digestible. When Jason isn't writing for MakeUseOf, he'll usually flex his creative muscles with other writing styles.
By Jason Currie
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