As you know, High Fidelity has operated over the last year with the assumption that users will not have consistent access to a keyboard while wearing an HMD. As a result, we have assumed that we should not consider chat, or indeed any form of text-based communication, as a core part of the services the company offers. We saw chat as being possible, but something that would emerge as part of the development of specific applications put together by the user community.
More recently, we began exploring how we would use the Vive keyboard for certain key applications within High Fidelity. Unfortunately, the current iteration of the Vive keyboard can’t be used with what we consider one of our most important applications, the Marketplace interface for HMD users. Among other things, the keyboard is too large to be used in conjunction with an application like the Marketplace. Given this reality, it seems clear that we’ll have to develop our own HMD-usable keyboard for the Marketplace.
If we’re providing a standard keyboard for users, it will no longer make sense for us to sidestep the question of text chat, particularly given how useful certain kinds of text communication are likely to be to users.
Later this week, we plan on mailing a survey to question users broadly on their priorities for a chat system. There are a number of important questions (e.g. whether data is retained, whether off-line messaging is a high priority, whether group chat is a high priority) that we’d like to gather information on. After that, we’ll be folding a chat system project into our future development plans.
I should emphasize that we have many competing priorities for development and a number of near term goals that may require us to adjust when we start new projects. However, our goal is to base the scope and deliverables for the chat system we develop on the feedback we receive from the soon to be released survey.
Look for the survey in your email inbox in the coming days. We’re looking forward to your feedback. Thanks!