Hello people of the real world. My name is Ben Lang. If you’re reading this message, you’re reading words composed and published from within virtual reality.

Joking title aside, I’m actually inside AltspaceVR right now as I type, a social virtual realiy environment with a fully functional web browser which is my only lifeline to the real world. Well, that, and the other participants of AltspaceVR’s closed alpha who surround me. If you didn’t get into the closed alpha, fret not, the more widespread beta will be here soon—be sure to sign up for an invite on the AltspaceVR site. If you already signed up, double check your spam folders just in case you got an invite to the closed alpha.

See Also: AltspaceVR Seed Investment Tops $5.2 Million, Software Details Revealed Today at SVVR #13

Let me tell you a bit about what I’m seeing (can’t share pictures since there’s no file browser support in here just yet).

I’m in one of AltspaceVR’s ‘Mingle’ rooms. Styled like a Japanese tea garden mixed with a beach, it can hold 12 people. In the ‘Spaces’ browser I can see that there’s a room that has a limit of 100 people… I’m looking forward to seeing it full.

There’s a couple of avatars, which represent other real people, mingling around behind my browser which has a primary window in front, with two additional windows to my right and left. I’m standing in…

…whoops sorry, Eric Romo, AltspaceVR’s CEO just came by to say hello. We had a brief chat about body language—it’s amazing what mere head gesturing can do, even on a drone-like avatar that looks only vaguely human—and how the test is going so far. Well, it seems. I’ve relocated into a building overlooking the main space. Eric is down below chatting with a few others. His voice is more quiet from up here.

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The positional audio is a simple touch, but it works wonders for indicating who is talking and how close they are to you. Right now I’m hearing a conversation among a few others, but it’s on the other side of the space so it’s quiet enough that I can concentrate on what I’m typing without my brain thinking I’m supposed to be part of that conversation.

It’s all quite surreal, writing here in this virtual space, knowing that one day this might be how we conduct most of our affairs—in a connected space.

I just turned to the virtual browser window on my left and started streaming music in from SoundCloud, pretty much the same thing I’d be doing if I were working in the real world (good thing I spent some time in VR Typing Trainer). The difference here is that I’m surrounded with people from around the world, and I could minimize my broswer and feel like I’m standing right next to them. It’s clearer than ever right now that virtual reality is on to something big.

The social aspect has something instantly special about it. This space would be just like any other virtual environment I’ve stood in, but with people to interact with, and the entire wealth of the internet to access and share, there’s experiences to be had here. I’ve been inside of AltspaceVR for about an hour now; it turns out that I’m not stuck in VR, I’m here voluntarily.

But it’s about time I get going. I need to eat something and you can’t do that in here.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • I had to double-check to see if I actually signed up for the beta, luckily I had done it ;) No invite yet, but I’m not too much in a hurry. What I’ve seen so far is quite interesting and it seems to work well. Looking forward to seeing more of this :) Also, good job touch-typing all of that ;)

  • brandon9271

    I really hope that companies embrace this in the corporate world and put an end to all the comuting that people needlessly do. Personally I think we should have gone to a more ‘work at home’ model years ago via VPNs and teleconferencing. Maybe with VR folks can finally realize we can be productive without physically being there.