Is Virtual Reality the Future of Social Networking? Maybe Not Quite Yet….
Remember the days where we had to attend conferences specifically designed to meet others within our field and create meaninfugl connections? It may be time to adapt to the digital age and start thinking of virtual social networking.
Virtual reality is slowly taking over our human realities and we may need to start thinking about adopting this technological reality within our business.
Take a look at this article and think about whether or not your business is ready to turn the tables.
Table of contents
- Is Virtual Social Networking a Thing?
- Why VR Remains a Solo Activity
- Role of Social Networks in the Development of the Internet Industry
- What Are the Prospects for the Merger of VR and Social Media
- How Trends Affect Virtual Social Networking
- Positive and Negative Aspects of Virtual Social Community Building
Is Virtual Social Networking a Thing?
First of all, we want to understand the concept of virtual social networking.
Currently, social networking has become an indispensable attribute of interaction for both young people and the older generation. With the help of online communities, the territorial and social boundaries are blurred, making the relationship between users global.
Electronic communication not only enables people to communicate but also performs certain resource functions on which business is also built.
So, in addition to interacting with real contacts, the user can also reach virtual contacts, with people or masses of people whom the user has never seen or will never see in his or her life.
From here we can define the first paradigm of the virtual social network as a way of interacting with virtual users via the Internet, in order to communicate, share information, opinions, and conduct business.
However, there is another paradigm – virtual communities, for a community of gamers and people passionate about virtual games. We’ll talk about that next.
Why VR Remains a Solo Activity
Despite numerous predictions, movies, and writers’ fantasies, virtual reality has not become as widespread as it has been imagined some 20 years ago. There are many reasons for this.
The main reason is the high cost of hardware for entry. Expensive VR headsets and glasses are not just difficult for ordinary people to buy, it is also difficult to ensure that they function properly.
For example, the requirements for communication channels for VR video viewing in real-time must be four times higher than modern wireless network facilities can provide. Otherwise, when you turn your head, the image will be lost if the system does not have time to react. Such technical requirements create a high threshold of entry into the technology for the mass user.
Such products for virtual worlds are in demand in a narrow circle of gamers and developers. Today, developers are trying to improve the technology by adding neural network elements.
AI software development can predict users’ actions and load the necessary frames in advance. Perhaps developments based on artificial intelligence technology can help make virtual spaces more accessible.
If the threshold of entry due to improved communication technologies becomes lower, then the popularity of VR helmets will be increased. New product companies with lower costs and massive accessibility will enter the market.
Role of Social Networks in the Development of the Internet Industry
The rapid development of online communities based on the use of Internet technology began back in 1995 when Randy Conrad created the first prototype of Classmates.com. 10 years later Facebook appears, which became revolutionary in some way.
A few more years later Groupon, a collective discount service, appears, and it is based on the principle of social networking, but this time it combines virtual communication with the business.
Virtual groups have a huge impact on our lives.
20 of the 100 most visited sites in the world are traditional computer mediated communication systems.
More than 80% of companies use them for their work, including collecting user-generated content because about 78% of social media users trust the information they get from virtual networks.
Millions of people create their avatars in successful online communities and list real or made-up information about themselves. Today the industry is mostly static, but VR can bring new ways to communicate and interact.
For sure, Facebook bought Oculus VR back in 2014 for a reason, and it was to push interaction technology to the next level. Shortly, the company plans to bring out the virtual community Horizon, which is designed specifically for VR and will offer the user a variety of options for communication and pastime.
Virtual Facebook world options will allow setting up a virtual avatar and creating your virtual worlds within communities. Of course, it is only available to users of Rift and Quest VR glasses.
What Are the Prospects for the Merger of VR and Social Media
The confluence of the two worlds – social communities and the virtual world – is a very interesting topic and important for social interaction on its own.
One side is widespread and actively used around the globe, while the other is narrowly focused and very specific because of the electronic frontier. How can developers produce management information systems with virtual settings integrated?
The prospect of a merger is very good. The increase in visits to online worlds by users has been made possible by the coronavirus pandemic. Closed borders, forced quarantines, and the shift to remote operation has resulted in almost:
5 billion people spending more than 100 days online total time in the last year.
And that’s most of the half of the world’s population.
It turns out that we have a very mass product (Social Networks), as well as a product that can help people to be closer, not just by texting and exchanging photos, but by having almost personal (albeit virtual) contact.
In addition, VR’s access to social networks will make it possible to create a new level of communities, almost realms based on interests.
This is a very fertile ground for the future industry. The symbiosis of social media and virtual reality could help the development of various industries in such an environment.
How Trends Affect Virtual Social Networking
Fans of new sensations are almost the only audience of the gamer virtual community at the moment. However, things can change dramatically. There are non-obvious aspects of the development of the virtual world industry.
If Covid 19 affected the decline of offline entertainment content industries, the introduction of VR and AR has not stopped.
On the contrary, the educational and industrial sectors continue to grow. The availability of virtual reality technologies makes it possible to continue working expeditiously despite closed borders. Remote communications, consulting, and skills training are areas where the ubiquitous adoption of VR is vital.
The demand for augmented reality retail solutions has increased. Communication platforms for networking, events, and meetings are trending toward adopting VR and AR solutions.
Businesses have to retool online to avoid recession or bankruptcy. Collaborative spaces based on virtual social networks can be the best solution for businesses to function and save workplaces.
However, it is worth noting that the VR/AR field is complex and expensive. The communication platforms are in their infancy, and the audience of virtual social networks in the literal sense of the term is not the widest.
Positive and Negative Aspects of Virtual Social Community Building
The positive effects
1. Virtual communication might help to enter the online world to those internet users who have difficulty communicating offline. This can be due to a physical disability or because they are socially withdrawn. Everyone in this world deserves to make friends, be heard and seen, access information, and grow social capital.
2. Virtual social networks could help you find the information you need. Using original research friends could find music or videos, a person, a place, or information about a brand, reviews, etc. though using a new level of operation. By operating this information technology people will be able to even watch movies within communities.
3. Virtual communities will bring people together based on their interests. It can make it easy for them to make friends, interact and share information regardless of their location or time zone via Facebook or another internet social structure.
4. Through virtual worlds, users could build an internet-based business, make sales, develop an eCommerce and at the same time build social interactions with brand and brand reputation according to queries.
The negative effects
1. Social media already takes up a ton of time, often causing people to procrastinate. People might start avoiding real communication, instead, they are using online chat rooms or different Facebook spaces as community members.
2. Virtual community using VR technology disconnects people from the real world even more than regular social networking sites. There is a risk of getting caught up in the created virtual world and getting psychologically traumatized when going out into the real world, especially for those who suffer certain personality disorders.
3. Staying too often in virtual reality deprives a person of real social skills of communication. There is a substitution of realities that can cause addiction in the future.
4. Certain technical difficulties can lead to a considerable increase in the cost of wireless network facilities.
As of today, we can`t speak about a fully functioning virtual network for several reasons: expensive equipment, complicated communication system, lack of tests, etc.
Sometimes a conventional social network on the Internet is called a virtual world, because it does provide elements of virtual communication, however, the human interaction is not so in the literal sense.
The prospects for the fusion of virtual technology and Internet communication tools are very good, but they will always depend on the threshold of entry into the technology. The more widespread and accessible the product is, the sooner necessary software development and technical solutions will appear.
The more it will be used, the more actual results of application we will be able to observe to make conclusions whether VR is the real future of Social Networking.