The 24th Swedish Conference on Macromolecular Structure and Function will be hosted by Linköping University and Around the Corner as a Video and Virtual Reality Conference.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a model of reality built in a computer in three dimensions. The main advantage of Virtual Reality is that you can move around, just like in real life, and that the sound of other participants decreases with distance. Several groups can talk at the same time in the same room, and it is easy to walk between groups, as if you were to meet in a physical room. Often you have an avatar (a virtual person) that you control to get around the virtual environment.
It is possible to participate in a VR environment both via computer, app or website, but is best experienced using a pair of special VR glasses that project an image on each eye. You then get the feeling of being in the virtual environment and when you turn your head, the images for your eyes are updated so that it feels like you are looking around the virtual environment just as if it had been your real environment around you. It will be an immersive experience, the virtual remains wherever you look. To help you, you can also have controllers that you hold in your hands to be able to pick up and interact with objects in the virtual environment.
Advantages of VR (not in any particular order!)
Cost-saving and environmental savings
Through VR, you can experience human contact with your fellow scientists from anywhere in the world without having to travel. In addition to being environmentally friendly, this is also very cost-effective, as you avoid many travel-related costs such as transport and accommodation (as well as time spent in transit).
On a computer screen, information and meetings are often represented in two dimensions, but humans are adapted to experience the world around us in three dimensions. By experiencing the digital world in VR, you can interact with people and objects naturally; objects, like in the real world, can be examined in three dimensions, and people can use their body language to communicate effectively.
Regular video meetings take place on a flat screen which can make it difficult to know who is talking to whom, because everyone is looking straight ahead. By expanding the meeting to three dimensions, you can see where people’s eyes are directed, and thus better understand who is talking to who. This increases the understanding of the flow of the conversation.
During video meetings, it is often only possible to hold very linear conversations where only one person speaks at a time. But just like in real life, the sound in VR is spatial – that is, the volume from an audio source decreases with distance. In practical terms, this means that in a group discussion it is easy for two or more participants to walk away a bit and have a parallel discussion, and then meet with the others.
In the usual video meeting, it is easy for the distraction to take the upper hand and to check your email or the news for a while. VR, on the other hand, is so immersive that participants are not distracted by what is outside, and the meeting leaders and the other participants can be sure that they are more focused on the meeting. You simply can’t check your inbox when you’re wearing VR glasses.
In a virtual world, no diseases and infections are contagious – it’s as simple as that! But even outside VR, we make sure to limit the infection. For us, safety takes precedence over everything – we guarantee that each device is sterilized before you start handling them.
With VR you can demonstrate structures and concepts in three dimensions instead of two, making it easier to convey and understand complex ideas. In addition, objects may easily be scaled up and your avatar can actually be inside molecules or data sets making it possible to get a totally new experience of your protein.
Mingling gets very stiff when you’re going to do it in video meetings. How does it work when we’re going to use VR as a social platform and mingle with strangers and acquaintances? We can look at each other and divide into groups, which is critical for mingling. But in VR, there are a few details that make it really fun to mingle. First of all, there’s always something fun to do, like throwing snowballs. They’re childishly funny, and everyone reacts the same way. You start throwing at each other, interacting and talking to each other. Secondly, there are actual advantages to having an avatar. Having an avatar makes it easier to approach each other, and you can see what status you have in an organization. This makes it easier to make new contacts. There have been studies that you open up more in VR and dare to talk more to strangers.
What is zoom compared to virtual reality? (External Article in Swedish)