Ruben van der Leun

The virtual workplace

whatsapp-image-2016-09-02-at-13-11-08-1When I started out as a freelancer, I had one big problem: the lack of any real office. I live in an apartment with a pretty big living room, but only two bedrooms, one being used for sleeping, the other for a drying rack and storage. While it is definitely possible to do work in the living room, I have to put extra effort into keeping focus, especially when doing paperwork. So most of the time, I end up either working at the client or at a flex space.

Still, having an office of my own for a company was still something that lingered in my mind. I still have a vision in my head on how I want it to look: Just a nice, open room with my desk in the center. A bookcase on the side with some programming books and potentially comics. In a corner, I’d like to have a table filled with tons of little gadgets to tinker with. Space will be reserved for the HTC Vive. And a 3D printed version of my logo somewhere on the wall. I still have to wait until I’m getting a new apartment or house, but I definitely already have the whole thing in my head.

Eventually, my ideas about this subject has led to one of my favorite pet projects: The Virtual Office.

The possibilities of WebVR

NaamloosThe first time I used Google Docs, a whole new world opened up for me. I had been using and building web applications at the time, but what Drive offered just blew my mind. I was writing a document, just like Microsoft Word, but in a browser! Not only that, but I could actually work in real-time with other people. I wouldn’t have to worry about sending a document with the other person having a newer or older application. The biggest pro that this offered was that I could easily reach my documents on any computer without requiring to install any software or make sure that my files were synced properly. And then I haven’t even started about the possibilities with mobile devices.

For me, it was pretty much a turning point and made me turn to web applications for work that I would normally do via a desktop application. Especially with the incredible progress that’s been made with frameworks like Angular2, you can pretty much code web pages to give the same user experience like a regular application would.

All of this is part of the reason why I’m seriously enthusiastic about the possibilities that WebVR is going to offer.

So what’s up with Virtual Reality?

ExperienceIf you have visited our page, you are likely already well aware of what Virtual Reality is. With the use of a head-mounted display, your brain is tricked into believing that it’s standing in a completely different environment. By having the camera match the user’s head movement and with the addition of peripherals to interact with the world, the user can experience a reality unlike our own.

It’s just an amazing concept. Much like how Star Trek predicted the mobile phone and tablets, it was definitely on to something when the series introduced the Holodeck. We can go to different worlds, do things that we normally wouldn’t do or even be able to do. Shoot at robots as a space pirate, or become the main character in a story where you are entering an alien world to rescue your twin sister. Prepare for an important presentation by acting out the whole thing in a room filled with virtual people. Do your daily office work on a space station overlooking the Earth. Talk with friends on the other side of the world around a campfire. Or simply watch a movie in your own private cinema.

What I’m talking about here is not sci-fi. It’s already here. I’ve done all the above, some on a regular basis. We can already experience it. So why hasn’t it caught on yet?