Virtual Reality as a Physical Shared Space Social Platform


Social presence, intimacy, & user agency is still an occurring issue in virtual reality experiences that involve social interactions. While remote virtual reality social media has been reiterated numerous times (i.e. AltspaceVR, VRChat, Rec Room), I think a physical shared space virtual reality social platform would be interesting to see in the future, especially with the release of standalone & untethered 6DoF headsets like the Quest. This could be set up as open public spaces bounded by a guardian system that tracks new visitors and encourages users to engage in meaningful social activities. Instead of being present in a shared space through remote communication, why not enhancing face-to-face real-time interactions on virtual reality? A social platform to hang out, chat, draw, watch movies, or play games together enhanced by virtual reality.

An avatar is a digital representation of yourself, which is usually perceived as a digital mask that conceals your physical representation. This new kind of virtual reality experience not only involves your digital representation, but also involves your real physical representation which is revealed before and after the experience. This might also help people to build new friendships with increased retention rate compared to meeting random strangers remotely who you will never meet again in the future.

Last but not least, this platform could also help people with communication disabilities, such as hearing & speech impairments. These could be done by altering the input and output channels across users in the same area which will make social interactions to be more accessible. I hope VR headset companies and VR content developers will realize the potential of standalone & untethered 6DoF headsets for shared co-located social experiences.

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