Fresh off raising roughly $2M on its latest crowdfunding campaign, Immersed is making waves when it comes to productivity in VR—and the timing couldn’t be better as more and more people around the world find themselves working from home. With a customizable and distraction-free workspace, Immersed gives you access to multiple computer screens at once. Dig into your work solo, or upgrade your experience via a monthly subscription to collaborate and whiteboard with others. With stunning virtual worlds and support for Mac as well as PC and Linux, Immersed lets you code from a cozy ski chalet, reply to emails from a utopian hall, and analyze data from a spaceship. Immersed has users who work in VR 40+ hours every week. And you can get it now on Oculus Quest.
We sat down with Immersed Founder & CEO/CTO Renji Bijoy to learn more.
How did you get your start in the tech industry?
Renji Bijoy: After graduating from Emory University, I worked as a software engineer at a few Fortune 500 companies, but it became clear that I unintentionally outgrew each position within a few months, whereas the employer only did yearly employee reviews. I decided to challenge myself and pursue a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in Computer Vision / Machine Learning working on autonomous navigation for drones, but it also became very apparent there that things were going to be very slow too—so I dropped out and settled for the master’s degree.
At my final nine-to-five job, I was the Lead Architect at GreatBigStory.com, where I had a great experience and led my team to growth-hack our website to 3M followers in two months, but the product itself was not as impactful for society as I wanted it to be.
So, I started building Immersed and was accepted to the Techstars Chicago ’17 accelerator program (10,000+ applicants worldwide; 10 were accepted, including the Immersed team). That’s where things really took off for us.
What was the original inspiration behind Immersed?
RB: Every software development team I've ever been on or led has had the issue of video-conferencing/chat just not being the same as working together in-person, side-by-side, whiteboarding, pair-programming, etc. I tried other potential VR solutions back in 2017 to try to fix this problem, but nothing available was effective. We decided to build a product that would solve this problem for our own team. We want to solve this problem, not because we love remote work, but because remote work is ineffective, and we want to make it more like in-person, especially now in our post-COVID 19 world.
Users collaborating side-by-side in Immersed, sharing screens and whiteboarding as if they were together in person.
How has the application changed during the course of development?
RB: Immersed started off being highly-focused on remote collaboration, but then we realized that if the solo experience isn’t comfortable and compelling, people won’t want to consistently put on a VR headset to collaborate anyway. So we decided to stay focused on creating a truly transformative solo-user experience before branching into remote collaboration.
Immersed spawns five virtual displays from your PC/Mac with no additional hardware.
Today, we’re proud to announce that users can spawn five software-emulated virtual displays from their PC and/or Mac computers with no additional hardware (Linux coming soon)! As we make collaboration more effective over time, we’ll also continue to iterate on the solo experience to the point where solo users can be two to three times more productive working in VR than in real life. Everyone wins!
What kind of response have you seen while demoing Immersed?
RB: Not once have I ever given a demo of Immersed where the person wasn’t blown away. Responses commonly are somewhere along the lines of “Whoa—I thought this was at least five years away!” What our small team has accomplished in such a short amount of time is mind-blowing, and I’m so grateful for how hard they work.
What sorts of use cases have you seen for Immersed thus far? Any future use cases you can imagine that would be particularly effective?
RB: The most common solo use case we see in Immersed is programmers coding in VR, but we also have writers, designers, day traders, accountants, etc., focusing on their work in distraction-free, stunning environments using Immersed.
The most common collaborative use case we see in Immersed is paired-programming among software engineers. Screens shared through Immersed are much clearer than one screen shared via Zoom. You can also share up to five screens per user simultaneously in Immersed, while also whiteboarding remotely. We also have teams of designers, teachers with students, finance teams, legal teams, and more using Immersed 40+ hours every week!
Really, anyone who uses a computer for work and collaborates with their team will get tremendous value from working in Immersed. Users have reported being more productive in Immersed than using video conferencing/chat.
What can you tell us about your future product roadmap? Anything that users should be on the lookout for?
RB: We’re cognizant of how COVID-19 has affected everyone, so we’re excited to soon implement the Oculus Hands SDK for interacting in VR to bring a more personal experience for users who are collaborating remotely. We’re also going to enable users to navigate in their environments now that COVID-19 has caused remote collaboration in Immersed to become more prominent (progressing from just solo use cases), as well as enabling users to work on their multiple computers in VR simultaneously, connect via remote desktop connections (connecting to a computer from VR that is not physically near you), and Presentation Mode (i.e., where a professor could give a lecture to 40+ students in VR).
As more Enterprise teams want administration tools for rolling out Immersed for their teams to collaborate in VR, we will be releasing Enterprise features in the coming months that are listed on immersedVR.com/pricing. There’s a lot on the horizon, and this is just the beginning!
How do you think VR and AR will continue to change the world of enterprise in the future?
RB: The improvement and mass adoption of AR and VR will be essential to the success of enterprise in the future. Companies in the future that don’t utilize AR/VR headsets in the future will be at a significant disadvantage. Especially because of COVID-19, it has become clear that remote work will only continue to be on the rise, even when people go back into the physical workplace, since they have experienced what it’s like to work from home and will request at least some work from home benefits. Some companies like Twitter and Square have vowed to never work in an office ever again, while others like Facebook are offering people the option to work from home indefinitely.
What’s next for you? Any exciting updates in the works?
RB: We’re building some groundbreaking technology behind the scenes that’s going to be next-level for working in VR. We can’t talk too much about it just yet, but it will essentially remove all blockers for everyone so that they can all work in VR without any issues. Get ready for the entire world to work in VR! 🚀
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
RB: Immersed is very bullish on being the long-term company that successfully accomplishes getting everyone in the future to “go to work” via AR/VR, so we would appreciate any and all feedback from users to help us make the product even better today!