Reconnecting People in Our Brave New Remote World

October 21, 2020

At OVR, we’ve talked about how we have spent a lot of our tech development anchored to the key principles of Augmented Reality (AR) as a way to enhance existing realities, and not simply creating new ones for alternative realities.

The Brave New Remote World

We did not know it at the time, but as we were rolling out more new features in our OVR app, in the early part of this year, the world was gradually coming to grips with living with a pandemic that until today, is still active and continues to dictate how we work, how we play, how we learn, and even simply how we live.–U 

As infections spike in parts of Europe, and the global South continues to grapple with untold numbers of new cases, any hopes that a return to normalcy by the end of 2020 seems distant, and the implications for the economy and our society are clearly going to be deep and long-lasting.

  • Social distancing may very well become the norm, even if regular activities like shopping and dining out become available again. The feeling of being close to one another, physically, may soon become a thing of the past.
  • Large events like concerts and spectator sports may have to scale down in numbers, if ever at all. We may very well have to do without the experience of sharing sound, sight, and feeling with hundreds of other people, never mind tens of thousands of others, for a long time to come.
  • With remote learning and working almost the chief way for many businesses and schools to operate during lockdown measures, the very act of physically meeting and talking to people has disappeared in 2020 for many countries.

In fact, the perception of a future where people are living more and more digitally, working and living remotely, and even communicating and keeping in touch with each other from afar, has now suddenly become the current reality. Hastened by the pandemic, people and governments are now forced to accelerate this digital-only connectivity by many years, and it is difficult to see how we can return to normal any time soon. 

But with the fear and uncertainty that comes with this ongoing major crisis of COVID-19, it becomes even more important to understand how we will continue to cope and even thrive in our new current realities.

Reconnecting people across the physical divide

While many of the things that have disappeared along with physical meetings, events, and activities may appear to be innocuous, especially since remote alternatives still allow the exchange of information, there are a lot of unexpected benefits that are missing from digital communication.

For instance, the lack of physical human contact means that information conveyed by touch and feel is missing. With digital communication, you generally need to look for people to connect, or hope they see/hear you online to respond. This is much unlike the “thereness” of physical presence, where even throwing a gaze and smile at someone across the room can spark off a conversation and communication.

As such, the “new world” that we seem to be getting used to now actually justified and provided a rationale for the types of solutions that we were building with our OVR app. In fact, we were actually, in a sense, building more and more bridges for everyday people to keep as much of reality and realism as possible in a digital world.

For example, instead of giving people avatars online as many other apps do, we went beyond it, allowing users to customize their own Avatars with their photos, giving them an online Avatar that when they speak, looks and sounds just like they do in real life. Don’t you agree that meeting your friends and family online, and seeing their faces and hearing their voices, is way better than just interacting with anonymous users with fantastical faces?

Another feature we think is special in our app via OVR Live as well, is proximity effects, which basically means that even inside the OVR digital world, you can enter a room and get as close as you want to the people inside. Walk up to them, and hear group conversations, walk away and their voices start to fade out. This gives a closer impression of meeting people physically, and also encourages people to move and interact with each other, getting the most out of online engagement!

To find out how OVR is using technology to help people reconnect in this brave new way of pandemic living, why don’t you try out the OVR app for yourself? Get it now on Google Play or on App Store.