Ideation in VR

1. Overview

Whilst virtual reality (VR) is mainly used for entertainment and simulations, there is another branch of application which is more oriented towards the practical working process.

Ideation is the process by which ideas are generated, organized, and presented, and VR allows opportunities for this in a more immersive and collaborative way. This is still a very new area and developers are trying new ideas to see what really works for people and improves their working lives.

Below are a couple of examples of ideation applications for VR.

2. Think Space: Brainstorming in VR

If you or someone you care about hold any kind of office job, you might know some of the challenges associated with such a lifestyle. Extended periods of time in front of a screen can become tiring and lead to a drain of your hard-earned energy. It might even throw in a headache as a bonus.

One such tool emerged on Steam’s Virtual Reality library earlier today, and it seems determined to fix the way office-dwellers work with brainstorming sessions.

About the experience and its practical values:

Say goodbye to those four walls of a Conference Room, and say hello to your very own, private island!

In its essence, Think Space is a creative drawing application. It allows you to hash out ideas on a whiteboard, while surrounded by a beautiful landscape of your choosing. Great for when the office is just too swamped, or you find yourself struck with a tough case of writer’s block.

As a minimal viable product, it’s gorgeous and surely accomplishes what it sets out to – being a handy new tech-gadget for brainstorming concepts in peace and quiet. It even prints the vector-pathed files for you. This makes sure that each one of you working on a given project can bring home and modify notes using any vector-editing software like Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer. This is not the full potential behind the app though.

Having access to intellectual capacity from people residing in all corners of the globe is good business. It’s an incredibly powerful resource for any company and as such, any innovation in making cross-continental work easier is something to keep an eye out on.

The demand for physical presence, however, tends to be the one most frequent roadblock in the process of hiring remote employees. If a hypothetical team works from 3 separate parts of our planet, it can be difficult to simulate the experience of just walking into a room and hitting up a whiteboard with markers to share concepts and ideas.

“Think Space” brings that very same physical presence away from a local meeting-room somewhere, and transfers it into a tangible, digital environment.

Being able to meet and greet in VR with your coworkers, and have the room scale, and the environment change.
Integration into popular company-wide platforms like Slack, Skype, or Fuze. This is particularly powerful because these platforms are known to work well with data and on- demand conference functions.

Music and Sound:

This is a workspace tool rather than a game or VR movie, the sound that is relevant here will be the voices of your coworkers. This focus has been implemented to good effect.

What other people are saying?

The idea is to relax you with its beach scene and waves crashing onto the island; you should feel relaxed and inspired.

Concluding remarks:

This is a great app for ideation, this lets you share ideas and feel inspired together with people in your team from all around the world. This is the next best thing to actually being with them in person. I think there is a promising future for work related VR tools, and this is a good example of what’s to come.

3. Noda VR Review: A Mind Mapping Tool for Spatial Thinking

Gaming in VR is great, but there’s huge potential for the tech to be used for productivity too. One attempt at that is Noda, a mind mapping tool for the Vive and Rift.

About the experience and its practical values:

We live in 3D. Our thinking is patterned from this three-dimensional world. Putting mental notes on paper or drawing diagrams on flat surfaces means a lot is lost in translation. With Noda use your spatial thinking and interact naturally with information. Shape your knowledge and map your understanding. Noda maps have a simple structure. Shapes hold concepts and links show relationships between them. This format supports a wide range of topics, anything where relationships between concepts is important.

A mind map is a type of diagram which aims to show visual and spatial relationships between concepts. Mind maps can be useful as a form of notetaking, studying, project planning, brainstorming, and more. Traditional mind maps are two dimensional, but Noda intuitively adds a third dimension thanks to the power of spacial 3D via the Rift and Vive.

Priced at $10 for the Early Access version on SteamVR, Oculus Home, and Viveport, the program launched with several features to start, and a recent update brings “Floating Tablets” that uses a unique stylus-like pointer to make typing easy on the program’s virtual keyboard with VR motion controllers. The tablet also allows you to tag, color, and resize nodes and more.

Users can easily draw lines to connect nodes, import lists of names from TXT and CSV files, images as JPG, PNG, or BMP, and save and load their mind maps. Though there’s only a small number of reviews on Steam so far, all are positive, with one reviewer saying they used the tool to map out ideas for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

The developer doesn’t intend to claim the program launch-ready “until the experience is comprehensive to the point of being a stand-alone productive application, for whatever purpose that turns out to be.”

Music and Sound:

This is a productivity tool, so sound is not the focus of the experience, beyond a few interactivity sound elements.

What other people are saying?

There is no doubt in my mind that someone will find this program very useful, but maybe it is a little too far ahead of its time.

Final Thoughts:

Students across the world often find making mind maps for their studies a useful way of learning and remembering knowledge. If you happen to think mind maps are useful, then give this a try and find out what mind mapping is like in VR.