Virtual reality is one of those ideas that everyone in business recognizes as a potential boon. Yet, most attempts at realizing functional, practical versions of VR met with failure or middling success for years.
Recently, though, headsets from Sony, Oculus, and HTC have proven themselves viable. The technology isn’t perfect and often depends on high-powered hardware like a gaming system, but it works.
That means future applications of virtual reality aren’t just a nice dream. They are likely something we could see go mainstream in near future.
So what is the future of virtual reality in the business world? Keep reading for our projections of where businesses will take VR technology.
Training is often one of the most stressful times for both supervisors and new employees. In some industries, such as manufacturing or construction, it can also prove a dangerous time.
The new employee lacks the experience to recognize a danger immediately. On top of that, no supervisor can keep their full attention on their trainee at all times. This combo of inexperience and occasionally inattention dramatically increases the chances of a trainee injury.
What about something like a sales position? Sure, you can carry out role-playing exercises in a back office, but it’s a poor substitute for an actual encounter with a customer.
Virtual reality can solve these problems. You can create a virtual environment that mimics a factory floor or a sales counter.
The factory floor option lets the trainee practice in a less dangerous environment. Plus, you can program in problems that you see regularly. With the sales counter, you can bring in actors to play customers and simulate a more realistic situation for practice.
All of this training will happen through VR headsets that will need high-quality optics installed. If you’re curious about optics, you can see more here.
Businesses already put a lower premium on face-to-face meetings than they once did. The rise of reliable, online video conferencing software makes many face-to-face meetings redundant. The next logical step in this progression is the virtual reality meeting.
As useful as a Zoom or Skype video conference call might prove, it’s also sometimes awkward when people work from home. You may see a pet jump into someone’s lap or a child wander through the background. While essentially harmless, these are still distractions.
A VR meeting leverages the same distance-negating benefits of video meetings but lets you create a professional environment without those distractions. For example, you could opt for a virtual conference room.
These kinds of meetings likely also represent the future of virtual reality in education. Why build a 200-seat auditorium, when 500-people can attend a lecture in a virtual auditorium.
For that matter, the future of virtual reality in healthcare will likely embrace this approach. Imagine if world-class specialists could offer conference lectures from their office or home, while other doctors in their field can attend from home from across the planet. How much faster would new approaches and techniques filter out into practice?
Virtual Tours, Part 1
For decades now, real estate agents depended on potential buyers coming to an open house as part of the sales process. Of course, the Covid pandemic-inspired quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing recommendations effectively put an end to open houses. The risk of transmitting or catching Covid in a space with lots of people coming and going is just too high.
One option real estate companies embrace is the virtual tour. Right now, most virtual tours entail a video walkthrough of the space. This beats still images, but the benefits depend largely on the quality of the cameraperson recording the tour.
Recently, though, some real estate businesses have turned their eyes toward virtual tours in virtual reality. This approach far more closely approximates an actual open house. Plus, a virtual tour can offer some other benefits, such as digitally switching out furniture.
Virtual Tours, Part 2
Of course, virtual tours of existing homes isn’t the only potential application for virtual tours. Let’s say you hire an architect for a new building. Even with blueprints and concept drawings, you may well struggle to envision the space in three dimensions. With the information from the blueprints and input from the architect, it should prove entirely possible to create a virtual tour of the future building.
Businesses can apply the same approach for investor meetings. You essentially give your potential investors a sneak peek at what their money will help you create.
Another potential application for businesses is designing spaces for functionality, such as warehouses and factories. Even well-designed factories often end up with choke points that slow the process down. Creating a virtual space that mimics the design may help businesses and architects spot those chokepoints before changes become impossible.
Digital Marketing and Advertising
Few areas of business will benefit more from VR than digital marketing and advertising. After all, one of the most common problems cited by online shoppers is that they can’t see the product up close or in context.
Take buying shoes, for example. Right now, you must hope that your usual size in your usual brand will match that size in another brand. What if you could enter a VR environment and see the shoes in their actual size?
The same goes for countertop appliances. Dimensions only tell you so much.
Seeing products at their actual sizes and in their appropriate context can help drive sales.
The Future of Virtual Reality in Business
With the VR concept proven by operable headsets in real-world conditions, the future of virtual reality in business looks bright. Businesses can leverage VR for practical purposes, like training and meetings.
Businesses can also use VR to create virtual tours of real buildings. They can also generate proof of concept environments based on blueprints or plans for clients or potential investors.
VR will reshape digital marketing and advertising. Letting customers interact with products in a more realistic way will drive sales. Curious for more information about virtual reality. Check out some of our other VR articles in the Tech section.