Innovation

4 ways virtual reality could make inroads in the workplace

Forget gaming. Here are 4 ways virtual reality could change the way we work.

Virtual reality proponents hope that this long developing technology will one day change just about everything we do, including the way we work.

Though, it might be a long time before you fire up a headmounted display when get into the office every morning.

Here are 4 potential uses for virtual reality in the workplace.

First, there's a VR tool in the works that's meant to combat the noise and distraction of open offices. Breakroom wants to offer users the ability to work with multiple browser windows, with shortcuts to things like Google Apps, all set somewhere scenic like a field or the moon.

Second is for communication. I talked recently with one social VR app called AltspaceVR that lets users go into virtual environments as avatars. They've been using their own app for business meetings and even job interviews. The idea is that when you're wearing something like the Oculus Rift, those sensors pick up and translate the types of non verbal communication you might miss on a conference call.

SEE: From privacy to productivity: A look at how virtual reality could change the way we work

Third is training. In some instances, VR is already making inroads here. Check out this patent drawing for a VR rig that trains welders. Most jobs require some amount of training, whether it's for specific skills, or dealing with situations like working with customers, or the press. VR could very well work its way into those processes.

And fourth, there are data visualizations. For those of you playing at home, you may remember an article we ran on something called Quant VR, which is an application for visualizing stock data in 3D. Data visualization is important because we have so much data and it's not always easy to pick out patterns. Plus, 3D graphics aren't entirely new in the field. And that's to say nothing of VR for design and manufacturing.

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About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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