Virtual reality collaboration is one of the primary use cases for immersive technology. According to a 2020 industry report from the XR Association, collaboration is among the top five enterprise applications of augmented reality/virtual reality, with implementation in 47% of organizations.
Virtual reality could power 3D photorealistic environments where professionals come together to work together and develop new ideas. It also allows us to visualize design plans and prototypes in stunning detail, simplifying the product development process.
There are several photorealistic VR solutions available for collaborative workflows:
High-tech company NVIDIA launched its photorealistic VR collaboration platform in 2017. Holodeck provides users with a virtual environment in which to develop 3D replicas of designs in precise detail.
Prior to launch, NASA architects, designers, and engineers tested the platform for product development. Its primary use cases are in manufacturing, particularly in the automotive, transportation, aerospace, and defense industries. Its main features include:
- Supports photorealistic graphics at life-size scale
- Compatible with artificial intelligence (AI) to deploy digital humans for product testing
- Design review and feedback workflow
- Imports and exports of models from Autodesk and SOLIDWORKS
Unreal Studio is a photorealistic VR design solution from Unreal, part of Epic Games. It was first launched in 2019 to help architects, engineers, and product designers reinvent their design process.
Users will be able to access the VR development tools included in Unreal Engine as well as the Unreal Editor interface. The platform can render images of real-world objects and 3D designs photorealistically in a VR environment. Its main features include:
- Interoperability with CAD and 3DS Max data
- Datasmith, a workflow toolkit that automates import processes
- Over 100 materials, industry-specific templates, and how-to videos
- Mesh editing, metadata exposure and non-destructive data re-import
Trezi is virtual reality design software for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. It includes two main products: Lens for architects and designers and Showcase, which helps building product manufacturers showcase their offerings.
Non-VR users can also participate in Trezi sessions and collaborate with users in a virtual environment. In 2020, Trezi further expanded its platform and launched Trezi Academy for design students and future professionals. Its main features include:
- Support for external users even without a Trezi account
- Design visualization at true scale, color and texture
- TreziViewer to load data from the web and provide an immersive experience
- Collaborative design and co-creation in real time
Brio is an interactive AR and VR authoring platform that provides users with a cloud-based, no-code design environment. Its primary use cases span retail, e-commerce, brand design, and marketing, and the company is part of the AWS Partner Network.
Brio is ideal for creating 3D renderings of e-commerce products instead of the traditional 2D catalog. Once designers have collaborated, developed, and finalized their work, they can publish it to the web and share it on social media through a connected workflow. Its main features include:
- Drag-and-drop design functionality and minimal technical skills
- Compatible with all major file types and industry standard software
- View and publish 3D scenes without any downloads, installations or plug-ins
- Asset and template library with thousands of professionally designed objects
The Wild is a VR design platform that was first launched in 2017. It has gained momentum over the past two years, raising $2 million in new funding in 2021. It offers a collaborative design for the construction industry, with photorealistic VR capabilities.
It is cross-platform and compatible with all major VR, AR headsets on iOS and desktop environments. The Wild is specifically designed to inspect and render Building Information Modeling (BIM) data. Its main characteristics are:
- Text-to-speech feedback to communicate and collaborate asynchronously
- Integration with Revit, SketchUp, BIM 360 and all major 3D file types
- Native drawing tools for rapid prototyping in VR
- Supports up to eight designers or collaborators in a single VR workspace
VISIONxR is an immersive platform that allows multiple collaborators to work together in a virtual space, connecting via VR, AR, desktop or mobile devices. It showcases use cases across industries, including retail, gaming and entertainment, and training and education.
Users can easily import their design assets into the platform and share them with others to foster real-time collaboration. It supports an unlimited number of users, although the maximum number of concurrent users is available upon request. Its main features include:
- Cross-platform compatibility (iOS, Android, Vive, Rift, Quest, Windows)
- Bespoke environmental control to fine-tune the workspace
- The ability to access AR and VR elements together, in a mixed reality environment
- Reduced price on an annual license
KeyVR is a design platform from rendering, animation and lighting technology provider Luxion. While KeyVR helps import 3D assets and view them in a virtual environment, KeyVR Connect is for multi-participant collaboration.
It supports a wide range of files, and once the user imports them into the platform, other meeting participants can view them in real time. The environment offers multi-material support, as well as animations. Its main features include:
- Basic design aids such as measure, move, measure and snap tools
- Intuitive user scaling to explore product designs from all angles
- Customizable graphical settings and environments
- Supports all major Oculus headsets, SteamVR, Varjo and any Windows Mixed Reality headset
VR collaboration is one of the most promising applications of immersive technology in business, and furthermore, there are a variety of general-purpose VR environments that can double up for design and collaboration.
For example, Meta’s Horizon Workrooms can enable bespoke workspaces where remote professionals can meet, brainstorm and create. Spatial is another such collaboration platform for virtual reality that is best suited for virtual meetings and events.
The advantage of the seven best tools is that they offer photorealistic capabilities, which means that design renderings are precise and precise, and ready to be converted into real prototypes. They have the underlying computing power needed to render high-quality graphics at scale without any loss of detail.