Can I Zoom in VR? Why Yes, You Can – in 3 Ways

In the last one year, we have repeatedly spoken about Zoom fatigue and the stress it creates among employees in terms of mental health. HAS Stanford study conclusively found that intense eye contact, having to see yourself in real-time, reduced mobility, and increased cognitive load contribute to workday stress. It also found that the effects of Zoom fatigue are over 2X more common in women than in men. A separate study by HTC Vive found that a third of UK employees are exhausted by non-stop video conferencing and most (74%) are worried about physically returning to work.

Clearly, organizations need a smarter alternative to Zoom calls – one that supports remote working while mitigating its challenges. One option is to conduct Zoom meetings in virtual reality, which recreates the dynamics of in-person meetings that are more familiar and healthier.

There’s been a lot of conversation around Zoom in VR and significant moves in this direction.

Zoom’s VR Journey

Founded in 2011 by Cisco alumni, Zoom is a popular online meetings platform. It shot into prominence in 2020, when its daily active user number saw meteoric growth. In just one month in 2020, it gained 2.2 million users – more than its total gain across all of 2019. Today, Zoom is almost identical with video calls, despite several other players like Teams entering the space.

Importantly, Zoom does not have any homegrown VR capabilities of its own. The company has been exploring the potential of hybrid and virtual workplaces for a while, but this was mostly limited to video streams and meeting platform enhancements. Global CIO, Harry Moseley, had predicted an increased role of AR/VR, holographics, and 3D visualization for communication, in passing, at the start of 2020.

It’s only in September 2021 – as part of the company’s Zoomtopia event – ​​that Zoom has announced its formal foray into VR. Again, it is not backed by Zoom’s own IP. The company is partnering with Facebook (now Meta) to bring VR meetings to Oculus. In addition to VR Zoom meetings, users can also access their Zoom whiteboard in Meta Oculus’ Horizon Workrooms experience.

That’s not to say that this is the first or only way to Zoom in VR. There are a number of options you can explore if you want to switch to a virtual reality mode for your Zoom calls.

3 Ways to Zoom in VR

There are several apps you can use to Zoom in VR. Here are our top three recommendations:

  1. Enter your Zoom meeting URL in MootUp

MootUp is an immersive virtual event platform built on 3D web technology. It is primarily meant for large-scale public and private events, used by organizations like BBC, Dell, Nokia, Uber, and several others. It can also be leveraged for smaller gatherings and Zoom team meetings. You can simply visit the MootUp website and enter the Zoom meeting URL to launch the meeting inside of MootUp’s VR world.

  1. Configure LearnBrite to integrate the Zoom Meeting feed

LearnBrite offers a VR platform for workplace learning and employee development. It is a no-code platform, and you can recreate a variety of microlearning and instructor-led scenarios. The combination of Zoom and LearnBrite makes it possible to host large meetings, events, and webinars in 3D without having to retrench your Zoom investments. LearnBrite is already integrated with WebRTC, and you can conduct Zoom Meetings in VR with up to 250 attendees.

  1. Fetch Zoom data inside Meta Horizon Workrooms

This is the newest advancement in VR Zoom calls, and the first one to be powered by a first-party partnership from Zoom. At Zoomtopia 2021, Zoom announced that it was partnering with Meta and Meta Oculus to bring VR collaboration capabilities inside virtual Workrooms. Oculus users can now fetch their Zoom data – including meeting information and whiteboard content – ​​in a VR environment.

How Does the Zoom VR Experience Work Using Oculus?

Given that it is a first-party, Zoom-supported VR meeting solution, the Zoom integration for Meta Horizon is likely to become the industry default for meeting in VR. When asked about the timeline for Zoom VR launch, the company has said that it will be available with the Horizon Workrooms experience shipping “early next year” ie, 2022.

Here’s how it works.

Zoom for Horizon Workrooms will use remote desktop streaming to recreate your workstation in a VR environment. Along with this, there will be hand-tracking technology that lets you access the workstation, type on the keyboard, etc. without having to take off your headset. You will be able to access your Zoom Whiteboard in VR, where the canvas can be blown up to visualize and edit small details without requiring a large display.

The Zoom integration for Meta Horizons Workrooms is bidirectional. This means that you can not only fetch and read existing Zoom data in Oculus VR, but you can also create, work on, and save a new whiteboard from the Zoom VR dashboard. Further, users can draw on the desk, switch whiteboard tools, write, annotate, etc., using the Oculus remote, which promises incredible flexibility inside the VR workplace environment.

Indeed, Zoom Whiteboard is at the center of this new VR meeting experience. While you can definitely Zoom in VR, replacing the video feed with 3D avatars, it is the whiteboard that makes meaningful collaboration possible. Meta Horizon Workrooms is currently available in beta and the Zoom integration will be available starting next year.

What Does This Mean for VR Collaboration?

Industry consolidation is a sign of maturity. While there was always a way to Zoom in VR, it typically involved third-party software setup, complex configurations, and feature constraints. A native VR meeting integration from Zoom and Meta means that this use case is now being taken very seriously, and we can expect to see more than standalone and isolated efforts from niche companies. One of the long-standing challenges to VR meeting adoption was buy-in – a first-party supported solution to Zoom in VR with deep prior investments effectively overcomes that barrier.

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