Return to the office almost with Kinemagic Stratus

1641151035 Return to the office almost with Kinemagic Stratus

TechRepublic reviews the Stratus, which can be used for real office virtualization technology based on an Oculus Rift headset.

Image: Halfpoint, Getty Images / iStockphoto

Virtual reality (VR) has been in the public eye since Lawnmower in 1992; augmented reality (AR) from Pokemon Go. As a working professional, I was always happy to have two reviewers: One for word processor and one for web browsing, thank you very much.

Then last week Kinemagic Stratus reached my doorstep.

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The Stratus is a software product that sits atop an Oculus Virtual Reality headset. Think of it a bit like a game for a game system like the Nintendo Switch. The Stratus product was originally designed to help envision, model, and hard-to-reach walking structures, such as an offshore oil rig or refinery. CAD drawings can only do so much. With the right VR, you can walk or bend over to see if you fit into the intended remodeling space. The result is a feedback from force when you hit a wall or an obstacle.

Team meetings in Stratus Kinemagic

What a team meeting will look like in Stratus Kinemagic.

Image: Kinemagic


    The experience

    Using Oculus is not just a dip. For AR, it feels real. After marking a free space on the floor, a virtual screen and keyboard that I could touch appeared. These looked as real as my desk at this point. After a few minutes of setting up the two-factor test, I launched the Stratus application and went into workstations, from an offshore platform to the stadium above. Stratus redesigned my world into a very, very real VR. Other users will be present as the dummy-crash-like person above. The Oculus platform includes an integrated headset, with a microphone and speaker, so it felt like Brian Lozes, the CEO, was standing next to me. The Oculus adapts to head tilt, movement, or even sitting. Brian tells me that people with motion sickness can be a little uncomfortable with the Oculus, and I can see why.

    Pressing my actual watch, which is actually on my heels, will bring up a co-op menu, which includes screenshots, the ability to share parts of a photo, messages, and tools identify taking notes.

    The kinemagic collaborative tool

    The Kinemagic Collaborative Tool.

    Image: Kinemagic

    Perhaps the most important new feature of the product is the ability to incorporate laser scans. Many organizations simply do not have a CAD drawing of their office, certainly not one that includes laptops and an office cup. For a few thousand dollars a day, a professional laser scan can create an image of what the office looks like.

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    A real laser scan from an offshore platform

    A real laser scan from an offshore platform.

    Image: Kinemagic

    Before the coronavirus started, this technology only made sense for hard-to-reach areas. Today, that could include the home office.

    Getting real

    Even if your company is willing to try a product like the Oculus, it's unlikely that the company will start by buying a set of goggles at $ 400 per person. If the entire team got the goggles, the extensive system requirements could also be a problem. Then there are the permissions to install the app on your system, which can be a problem when tech support is unwilling, or unable, to crash with your house due to a global pandemic. Kinemagic has a few features to make that a little easier.

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    First, the company provides a PC of the space that does not require a VR headset. When I went on a tour of this, the interaction felt a bit like a first - person shooter game, which is still far more realistic than a thread on Slack or Email. The interactions were still real-time, and getting the laptop allowed me to switch between the product and a more traditional environment, fast typing or programming. Second, Kinemagic has a "portable application" version of its device, which runs in a single directory and does not require installation. This can allow you to see the result and experience it at least on your own. The full potential, which includes interacting with others, licenses and so on, requires two-factor authentication online. In other words: Both a sandbox version is auditable, and a proper version that provides compilation with IT security.

    Returning to normal

    With high-tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google accepting work from home, other companies may have to follow suit. Kinemagic's Lozes said the company had aggressive sales targets, which were lost when the whole world was shut down because of the coronavirus. Today the sales line is longer than it was in January, and part of that is due to the new use case for the product, the online office. Instead of traveling, the company can just mail Oculus and laptop to a potential customer, then meet and preview the product in a virtual world.

    With Bitcoin not going to devalue the dollar anytime soon, we are unlikely to look like an all-encompassing office.

    However, it is good to have choices.

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