VR entered the mass market mostly as an entertainment product. It offers a unique visual and spatial experience that none of the other entertainment media can offer. From a passive VR experience that you can have on YouTube to immersive video games—VR is definitely a staple of home entertainment. Facebook’s purchase of Oculus a couple of years ago for $2 billion seems like a small blip on the radar when we realize that the potential market for VR entertainment is absolutely enormous.
However, it’s obvious that VR has other applications. Virtual reality creates unparalleled options for visualization that can be used in a business environment with the help of mixed reality development. VR technologies are not just funny toys anymore, as even armies around the globe embrace the technology. And nothing speaks ‘utility’ more than a military application.
But how can various businesses start implementing VR today? And, most importantly, for what purposes? If you are sure your business doesn’t need VR, this article will make you change your mind.
Products like Hyper Room create virtual workspaces that can be used in various collaborative projects. Anything from just sketching together or building a design mockup in real time to going over an engineering project—the possibilities are endless.
For example, SpaceX has been using VR in engineering for over six years. It has brought a whole new layer to 3D visualizations, which are so important to the company as they build immersive 3D visualizations of spacecraft models and then 3D-print their parts.
Imagine you have a piece of multimillion-dollar equipment that you really don’t want to get broken. You have two options: a) to give an inexperienced guy a go at it, and b) to give an inexperienced guy a go at it but in a VR setting. Of course, any sane business owner or operational manager would go for the second option. Just like with the military use mentioned earlier.
For example, WorldViz is helping industrial juggernauts like Boeing and Lockheed Martin with their on-the-job training. It’s especially crucial when your product is shipped to a client thousands of miles away. Why bother getting technicians and equipment there if you could just organize a training session in VR?
Naturally, there are particular applications that are hard to copy in VR—certain manual work requires tactile input and muscle memory. But given that there are already VR shoes that let you feel the virtual surface that you’re walking on and haptic gloves that imitate touches, it’s plausible that tactile experiences will soon be augmented within VR.
VR could also be applied to emergency situations when employees get to experience a virtual malfunction instead of relying on just theoretical knowledge. Emergency management skills are an important aspect of many occupations. For example, Cleveland Clinic handles emergency training for surgical operations with the help of VR.
This is a very robust and promising niche for VR, with applications ranging from office renovations to planning new warehousing solutions and building a factory infrastructure. This is especially useful for retailers who long for creating unique experiences for their visitors, no matter the location. Retail design companies already use VR in their workflows, and the results are pretty amazing: the ability to show a complete design almost in real life is empowering.
Imagine how this could streamline the work for landscape and interior designers, as well as construction workers. Unfortunately, given the relatively small size of the companies that might use this kind of technology and their limited resources, these tools are not quite accessible to a lot of them, yet.
VR can be an immensely powerful tool for showcasing products and services when a real-life demo is not an option. In this regard, VR can alleviate a ton of business pressure associated with the logistics and setup of product showcases.
Virtual showrooms are becoming a thing because businesses can save enormous amounts of money on actually shipping the product and setting up a showroom for it. For example, some car dealerships are seeing a 70% increase in sales with virtual showrooms. This proves that they can save on marketing for many products by starting to show their products to potential clients as soon as the products leave the production line.
Travel is another surprisingly popular application of VR favored by all generations. The technology can be applied from ‘traveling’ to a destination in VR to previewing a travel destination or a resort before actually going there.
Another area of interest that deals with showcasing a product in VR is prototyping. Instead of actually building a prototype, businesses can, at a fraction of the cost, build prototypes in virtual settings and let test groups check them out in VR. It’s also a lot easier to amend a design within a 3D model before it hits the production line. Global design leaders, like IDEO, have already embraced this approach.
Visualizing data in VR can really help with decision-making, as it adds volume and depth to data due to creating a 3D environment for processing information. It literally engages more bandwidth that our senses can provide, which allows us to better process data. So, if you feel overwhelmed with information, VR might be the remedy that you’re looking for.
This could apply to various business processes, potentially replacing fancy analytical products. Visualizing data to identify patterns can be an intermediate alternative to data science and machine learning, or it can serve as an augmentation for these tools.
That’s why some go as far as to say that VR will disrupt data science, which is pretty fascinating, as data science is a disruptive niche in its own right.
Virtual reality has a wide variety of business applications, and it’s applied to business problems not because it’s the latest hip tech but because it’s actually useful for business. It’s a cost-cutting tool that offers unparalleled simulation and visualization capabilities. It offers the space for experimentation and training, which otherwise would have required involvement of trained professionals and actual physical resources.
It creates a potential communication and collaboration hub, which could be very useful in today’s economy where a lot of companies go for contractors and freelancers to cut costs and optimize expenditures.
VR also provides a revolutionary step for customer acquisition by building experiences that can only be described as ‘try before you buy’ for products and services that didn’t have that capability before, such as in travel and event industries.
But perhaps one of the most intriguing applications of VR in business is data visualization. It helps to present data in a way that’s easily digestible and thus uncover insights that aren’t available even through progressive data exploration and management products that are based on data science and machine learning.
With the current pace of VR adoption beyond entertainment, it becomes obvious that its applications are going to become even more accessible to smaller companies. This, in turn, should usher in a new era of VR business applications fueled by an ever-growing consumer base.
Learn more about mixed reality development via Iflexion https://www.iflexion.com/services/augmented-reality-development