Virtual reality can sometimes appear like it’s a pretty isolating platform. Visually, people experiencing VR certainly aren’t in the most approachable position and right now the tech is new enough that it rarely seems accessible to those who are vaguely curious.
That being said, there are plenty of companies succeeding in strengthening the social potential of VR. One of the coolest companies doing so, AltspaceVR, just became even more accessible today as it launched its mobile experience on Samsung Gear VR.
The concept of virtual reality being used as a digital meeting space is one of many concepts being flirted with by app developers as a major future use case. The distant idea that in a few years we may be able to kill teleconferencing as we know it and look someone in the eyes as we chat has been replaced by the idea of us being able to do (and create) almost anything together in a purely digital space.
While we wait for the future, what users can do now in the AltspaceVR app is still a lot of fun. The app contains several virtual spaces that multiple users can meet in to play board game-style games, compete in quiz shows or do something less active like watch some YouTube videos together or share content from the built-in web browser. Users can do all of this while navigating these spaces and having real conversations with friends.
“Our focus at AltspaceVR is creating the most natural and fulfilling communication experience possible online, and we’re thrilled to bring it to Gear VR,” said AltspaceVR Founder and CEO Eric Romo in a statement. “AltspaceVR on Gear VR brings nearly all the features of our PC experience, but with the ease of use of mobile.”
Moving forward, the company is really looking at what specific events and games make sense for people to collaborate on. Mobile VR users can feel somewhat limited by the differences in input precision on the Gear VR versus desktop controls, but this can only improve as mobile VR platforms like Samsung begin experimenting with more-effective input methods.
One thing that’s interesting here is this trend that AltspaceVR is fitting into where VR developers are sort of dialing back and working to create cross-platform experiences that don’t have to be as resource-straining as desktop-optimized apps but are able to reach greater audiences thanks to the greater accessibility of mobile VR. Samsung Gear VR has proven to be a really stellar first go at mobile VR and it will be interesting to see what comes next as mobile companies start to nail down key features like positional tracking and eye tracking.
AltspaceVR is in a really cool place right now because they’re capturing the VR social space and making it available across major platforms. As more and more people are drawn in by the attractive experiences of mobile VR, AltspaceVR will undoubtedly serve as one of the companies that unites high-end VR users and novices in a way that strengthens the VR platform in general.