VR Virtual Interaction Room – Part 1

5.11.2019 | 4 minutes of reading time

The idea for a Virtual Interaction Room, i.e. meetings in VR (Virtual Reality), was triggered by an e-mail from our CEO and founder Rainer Vehns in July 2019. In one of his monthly mails, he wrote about sharing information in a growing, distributed setting at codecentric and there was one sentence that touched me:

Since we have grown so much and since we are distributed all over Germany, Bosnia, Serbia and the Netherlands and often work remotely, we cannot expect you any more to find all this information by yourself.

I remembered a speech that Dr. Simon Grapenthin held when I joined codecentric in 2016: it was about a concept how to use a physical room to interact with people of different disciplines (www.interaction-room.de ). It basically maps to the Agile principle

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

(https://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html )

So putting these two things together I thought, for distributed teams (or even enterprises), a VR Interaction Room might be a good idea. I shared this with Rainer, talked to Simon and in fact to a lot of people since then. The more I talked about it, the more sense it was making. So I participated in an internal competition for innovation budget and almost 90 colleagues voted for my idea so I won the contest. Now that I am “funded”, I want to share my journey here in a series of blog articles. Today, in the first part, I’d like to share some of the basic concepts and plans/ideas I have so far. I would love to receive feedback as comments on this article so feel free to share whatever you think might be useful!

Value proposition

Why meet in VR? We can meet in person and we have Zoom so what is the point of VR meetings? There are so many concerns people might have, starting from the investment into hardware, discomfort in wearing them all the way down to reluctance to a change. But I believe there is value in VR meetings so I started collecting them. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

the room itself – in many organizations it is hard to find a free meeting room when needed
all relevant information in one place
reduces travel cost (20 people F2F meeting: 10k€ every time, 20 VR headsets: 9k€ once)
sustainable (10kg for 1 year surfing the web vs. 24kg for 4.5h train trip)
motivating technology (it’s fun! :-))
full immersion (no distraction by mobile etc.), replaces „emotional check-in“ at the beginning of a meeting
social interaction (shake hands, high five, waving, calling, handing over virtual elements, later: mimics)
infinite moderation space
intuitive, “natural” UI (unlike many PC-based tools)
Spatial audio removes the video conference limitation of not hearing each other when talking at the same time.
Audio limitation allows massive multiplayer moderation formats (Open Space, SAFe PI Planning, 1-2-4-all, …).
Digital world allows for direct interface of (pseudo-)haptic elements with existing platforms.
Shy people speak up “under cover” of their avatar or can even use a anonymous avatar (see features).
Forming groups in workshop does not require any time as it can be randomized.
Meeting minutes can be automated.
The moderator can be present in multiple sub-groups at a time, e.g. for explanations (“cloning”).
Refactoring digital sketches is far easier than on a physical sketch.
While results of a typical workshop are not used much after the workshop is over, the (digital) results of a VR workshop are highly accessible.
Hardware is comparatively cheap (comparing e.g. with electronic whiteboards or huge touchscreen monitors).
addresses “the new normal”: remote work
You don’t have to smell the neighbour’s food, smoke etc. and you can arrange your meeting place as you wish (window open / closed or even on your terrasse).


Considering possible usage scenarios and moderation formats, we envision the following virtual “things” to be available in an ideal VR Interaction Room:

a nice (!) room with a table for the moderation material
plain whiteboard (for drawing and sticking, save as photo, load photo as background e.g. Business model canvas)
touchscreen monitors with browser integration
annotation stickers (copyright by Interaction Room GmbH)
sticky notes with voice recognition in different sizes, colors, patterns and forms (rectangular, hexagonal)
pencils in different sizes, colors, and patterns
timer (hourglass + wrist display)
virtual notepad for private notes
wool (to dconnect points in the room)
carpet with country as image (where do I come from? or setup booths for location representants)
flipchart (other than on a whiteboard, results can be sticked to walls)
colored balls
3D Interactive Mindmap
mini-games (basketball, golf, table-soccer, pool billard, can knockdown…)
“red alert” illumination for critical situations (e.g. Expedite, Showstopper)

Continue to part 2…

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