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Pakko De La Torre // Creative Director

3 Reasons Why We Need Avatars In Video Conferencing - Virtual Reality Augmented Reality Technology Latest News

3 Reasons Why We Need Avatars In Video Conferencing – Virtual Reality Augmented Reality Technology Latest News

In a survey conducted across India, 95% of the participating companies responded in favour of continuing remote working or a hybrid working style, moving forward. With the growing reliance on online video conferencing for daily communication, a large chunk of the tech industry is working on creating a more reliable communication structure. As global tech giants throw their weight behind VR-powered video conferencing, there is growing consensus that virtual reality will become the backbone of the online conferencing market.

While the current gamut of video conferencing tools and applications are decent for short-term telecommunication, long-term use is psychologically tiring and not ergonomic. The human senses of sight and space are optimized to perceive 3D figures, not flat screens. Network lags make it even more difficult to conduct fruitful team discussions, highlighting how counterproductive this communication model really is. In fact, these gaps have spurred even Zoom – the quintessential video conferencing application – to begin working on its own VR-based conferencing platform.

VR-based conferencing resolves the ergonomic gap, in part, through personalized avatars for users. Here’s a list of reasons why: 

1. Higher Engagement:

60% of our perception of communication is dependent on para-lingual signs. Most of these para-lingual signs are derived from co-presence, which is defined as the awareness of other people’s location with respect to ourselves.

Wondering why we need avatars in video conferencing? A key difference between avatar-based virtual conferencing and typical video conferencing tools is the lack of co-presence markers. Without this input, users are left to grapple with communicating without any spatial context. This causes stress and fatigue, and is linked to a steep drop in user engagement.

With avatars, users can perceive other users within a spatial context. Avatars also facilitate the use of spatial audio, adding another dimension to the experience. These additions substitute for para-lingual signs in virtual interactions, making it possible for users to stay online without losing focus or interest. 

The gaming industry has been making use of this advantage for years – it is only natural that the domain of communication picks up on it too.   

2. Empathy

Empathy is central to communication. The concept extends beyond social mores and niceties; being able to ‘read the room’ is essential to communicating effectively, and empathy is what allows us to do so.

The role of empathy becomes even more crucial in the workplace. For one, the ability to single out the source of dialogue in a group setting makes it much easier to communicate as a team. Secondly, empathic conversations help build trust through clear and consistent feedback.

Avatars can meet both of these needs with ease. Especially in VR settings, avatar-based interactions can give users a clear sense of the size of a gathering, their level of interest and attention, and the general mood in a virtual room. These advantages enrich group discussions within a team, as well as seminar-style broadcasts for the entire organization.

3. Self-Representation

A lot of research done in recent times points towards the connection between representational avatars and self-conception. After gaming, the domain of fashion highlights this connection the strongest. In fact, the inability to express oneself to other users in a virtual environment has been linked to high levels of dissatisfaction and lack of long-term bonding.

Customizable avatars are the solution to this problem. As the adoption of virtual working and conferencing models rises, the need for self-presentation will too – both as a matter of personal preference, and a way to bond with one’s teammates.

Due to how nuanced facial and body language is, the capabilities to fully and perfectly replicate these expressions have not existed until very recently. However, the Meta Keynote, as well as Google and Snapchat’s recent product teases, have all shown that the next wave of VR hardware is going to be up to the task. With these releases, we can be sure that digital identities are going to become more important to the human condition than ever before.

This content was originally published here.