Experiment Results Show We are Still a Long Way from Working in the Metaverse

Image sourced from South China Morning Post.

18 university staff volunteered to work in the metaverse for a week for an experiment and the results show that the reality of working in the metaverse is still a faraway dream.

According to New Scientist, two of the volunteers dropped out within hours of starting the experiment due to nausea. The rest reported being frustrated, anxious, and having sore eyes by the end of the experiment.

In a paper titled “Quantifying The Effects of Working VR for One Week” researchers wanted to understand the effects of working in the metaverse for long periods compared to working in the physical world. The metaverse is like a whole new world on the internet, where people interact using avatars and virtual reality technology such as VR headsets. It is one of the top emerging technology trends in 2022.

The volunteers were asked to spend five working days in a recreated virtual reality office in which they were supposed to spend 8 hours working with a 45-minute break in-between. According to Business Insider, the volunteers weren’t given specific tasks, they controlled their work day but they were given identical equipment to carry out those tasks.

Most reported that it was really difficult working in the metaverse, especially taking notes, making their day less productive than it is in the physical world. Compared to the physical work environment, participants reported on average a 42% increase in their frustration levels and a 48% increase in eye strain, Business Insider reported. In addition, they reported being more anxious by almost a fifth and suffered a 20% decrease in overall well-being between the week spent virtually compared to the physical environment.

Researchers, however, said that all these problems could be reduced as technology improves and people get used to virtual reality. They noted that eye strain diminished towards the end of the week. They also noted that the results of the mini-study were dependent on the subjective experience of an individual.

“Overall, this study helps lay the groundwork for subsequent research, highlighting current shortcomings and identifying opportunities for improving the experience of working in VR,” said researchers from Coburg University in Germany, Cambridge University, UK, University of Primorska, Slovenia, and Microsoft.

“We hope this work will stimulate further research investigating longer-term productive work in-situ in VR,” they said.


By Zintle Nkohla

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