The real reason why Salesforce and virtual reality is a game-changer
What we today call VR or virtual reality refers to a device that wraps around your head, completely blocking out your audio and visual fields, and projecting a computer-generated reality onto your eyeballs and ears (e.g., Oculus, HTC Vive, etc).
Considering that everything we already do on a computer is a virtualized representation, VR is really no more or less “virtual” than any other software or cloud application. What really separates VR from the existing applications paradigm is the human experience of interacting with computers.
VR in recent historical context
The jump to VR can be compared to the jump we made in the 80’s from command line interfaces to full on graphical user interfaces (GUIs) with icons, buttons, windows, etc. It was a drastic change in how we humans perceived, communicated, manipulated, understood and interacted with information on computers. From games to business applications; the software world gravitated towards a more fluid and seemingly natural way for us to engage with the computer. Over the past few decades and the recent implementation of the touchscreen, we reached a tipping point in making computers more understandable and usable. VR is the next logical step in that direction.
The limitless possibilities beyond the two-dimensional screen
Much like how traditional GUI based apps opened the doors for new and meaningful ways to interact with data and complex systems, VR will do the same. But now the possibilities truly are boundless. Instead of application designers being constrained to a two-dimensional rectangle (i.e., the screen), application designers can now use the full, 360-degree realm of a projected world to bring their ideas and concepts to life.
Anything from games, to team meetings, to project planning will become more useful and meaningful, by way of a full-on simulated environment that completely immerses the user. Instead of sitting at a desk using peripherals to interact with applications, you will be inside of the application, so to speak, interacting with it in a more “real” sense, rather than the point-and-click method of years before.
Traditional business apps will become obsolete with Salesforce and virtual reality
Eventually, the traditional point and click approach will go obsolete, just like command line did many decades ago. The new paradigm of tangibly interacting with applications using your arms, legs, speech and movements will become the defacto standard and the most intuitively understood means of interacting with information. As early Salesforce development shows (see this video at the 12-minute mark), we are on the cusp of virtually swimming with and amidst data, and will be using VR systems sooner than you think.
Post-script: Some thoughts on the power of software to redefine reality
I want you to ask yourself: what is real? What is reality? What is the difference between real-reality versus virtual-reality? Specifically, when you use any software, even web based / cloud based solutions like Salesforce, what is real about it?
If you really think about it, it’s only as real as an idea in someone’s head. This is the power of software: it redefines the reality around us, transforming intangible ideas into things that are as physically present to us as the coffee mug on our table (i.e. this blog post as an example).
The experience a user has interacting with applications is as real as the idea or concept behind the application. These are all types of virtual realities that we accept as part of everyday life. Anything from spreadsheets to video games, and everything in between. It’s a user experience game. It always has been. In effect, VR has always been with us.