Due to the pandemic, the use of video meeting services like Zoom skyrocketed in 2020. Now companies like Meta are offering VR meeting spaces to consumers, believing such settings will lead to higher productivity. However, a recent study shows that virtual reality meetings are not superior to video meetings.
The study was conducted by Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, a VR researcher and marketing professor, along with his co-workers at the University of Muenster. The study tested whether participants were more emotionally present, and if they worked more creatively in VR meetings. Participants were required to work in teams and view films together. 300 University of Muenster business students were selected to participate and divided into groups of 100. One group met in Glue, Altspace VR and Bigscreen VR, while a second group came together via Zoom and Watch2gether. The remaining group collaborated over VR social apps in 2d using traditional monitors.
All participants joined their respective meetings from home to ensure the results were as accurate as possible. This allowed the research team to factor in things like poor internet connections.
VR Meetings Decrease Concentration
According to the study, participants concentrate better in 2D meetings. Moving and viewing a VR space distracts meeting members. However, participants meeting in virtual reality feel a stronger sense of community. Additionally, VR meetings are more fun for participants and thus lead to more creative outcomes.
Those wearing VR headsets also tired faster than study members engaging in 2D meetings. Participants claimed the headset’s weight and the graphics’ quality were responsible for their exhaustion.
“These results suggest that the value of RMSIs in the new virtual environment is not generally superior to meetings via 2D environments (e.g., Zoom) and underscore the need for a more fine-grained investigation,” the study says.
Currently, researchers disagree as to whether technological improvements will lead to more productive VR meetings in the future.
While VR meetings still have a long way to go, the VR gaming industry is still going strong. HTC recently announced its upcoming VIVE XR Elite headset, which will offer VR and XR experiences. Likewise, Sony’s PlayStation VR2 will launch next month for PS5 console gamers.