Office space: You can expect this trend to spread to offices in coming years. “We are seeing repeated interest in building training products around interviewing skills, navigating difficult conversations, consultative selling, performance reviews, and identifying diversity and inclusion best practices, to name a few,” says Kyle Jackson, CEO of Talespin.Unreal feeling: Computers and algorithms are sometimes now used to monitor workers’ output and performance. But while it’s common to think that social and emotional skills are exempt from this automation creep, Barry suggests otherwise. “Soft skills are ranked among the most important for any organization as they discuss their needs for the future of work,” Jackson says. “We don't see this slowing down any time soon.”Uncanny colleague: The catch with Barry and other virtual characters, in case you didn’t guess, is that their effectiveness depends on how convincing they are. Barry looks quite realistic for an avatar, but Jackson says the character follows a set script—so it can’t interact in a very natural way.
Learning process: Avatars behave more naturally if they’re powered by machine learning—but it’s going to be a long while before these characters exhibit, or respond to, body language in realistic ways. As Danielle Levac, a professor at Northeastern University who specializes in using VR for rehab, says: “If you’re not able to escape the notion that it isn’t a real person, it’s not necessarily going to transfer.”
Virtual Reality Is For Phones, Too. One of the biggest misconceptions with virtual reality is that you need to buy expensive viewing gear in order to participate. That is not true at all. In fact, the latest cell phones allow you to use it as a device for virtual reality. You might need to make or buy an additional piece to use it for that, but it is usually at a low cost. Google, for example, offers a 3D cardboard kit for your phone for less than $10.