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The future of collaboration? An interesting technology that's here now

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According to a recent McKinsey study on Online Collaboration Statistics, the benefit of online collaboration tools and digital workspaces can result in an increase of 20-30% productivity. That was before the pandemic that has rocked the world since December. I would hazard a guess that that number is significantly bigger now, since so many employees have no choice but to work from home. The same article shows that 33% of millennials prefer to work in companies with collaborative workspaces and that the presence of an effective communication system decreases employee turnover by 50%. This makes collaboration tools like team chat, video conferencing, modern file access and collaborative editing critical today, but what about the future?

I’m a bit of a geek. I suspect many of you are too.  I recently ran across some interesting collaboration technology that I’ve been exploring as part of my own digital workspace in this COVID-19 world in which we find ourselves, that could well be a significant step in the future of collaboration. About a year ago, my wife bought me all sorts of fun toys – a Corsair One Pro, 4K TV, and a Windows Mixed Reality headset. Since then I’ve probably spent a grand total of about 4 hours inside VR, but my kids love it. It’s been an interesting gaming platform with games like Form, Beat Saber, and Superhot providing hours of enjoyment for them. But sitting here at home day after day I started to wonder what VR might be able to do for my work-at-home life. That’s when I discovered SPACES.

SPACES is a new way to bring collaboration to life between more traditional tools like Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting and the world of VR. Because of its ability to create a more immersive virtual meeting  *ahem* space, SPACES has been interesting for meetings when I needed a whiteboard or presentation stage-like experience. What’s more, there are some great stories on how teachers are using this to better engage students in the classroom. 

Care to give it a try? It’s pretty easy! Simply install SPACES on your VR rig, connect to your favorite video conferencing solution, select the SPACES camera as your camera and turn it on. When you fire up spaces, the participants in the conference see your virtual world, instead of your normal camera. In there you can talk and present slides in one of many environments, but SPACES also provides a number of VR-specific tools: there’s a virtual whiteboard that you can write on and save content from, a feed of and direct access to your full desktop with the ability to mark it up, a selection of custom avatars, and total control of the virtual cameras  inside the environment. Their new SPACES Pro version has some really neat environments like a full keynote auditorium and a news studio that shows some really interesting potential future collaboration and presentation use cases.

Here's a couple of videos that show what’s possible with spaces:

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If you’ve got a VR rig and want to explore what could well be a key part of the future collaborative workspace, download SPACES and check it out.

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