Although the capability for virtual reality (VR) was invented in 1957, it’s only in recent years that VR pops up in nearly every industry. Better screen resolutions, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), create a world where VR is more realistic than ever before.
By 2020, experts predict virtual reality and augmented reality tech will hit $15.6 billion. VR capability and frequency is growing at a rapid pace. Nearly every type of business imaginable now implements the technology.
If your business hasn’t yet invested in VR, it isn’t too late. Looking at some of the industries that use VR may inspire you to figure out where best to invest in VR for your own endeavors. While some places simply make sense for VR usage, others are less obvious.
1. Treating Phobias in Psychology
Virtual reality is utilized to treat severe phobias and fears, such as when soldiers have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also, 50 percent of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) battle anxiety and phobias, which VR can improve through graded exposure therapy.
VR addresses the challenges in overcoming fear by recreating real-life experiences and forcing reliance on abstract thinking skills. The process is taken step-by-step in a safe, monitored environment. The most typical use is in a blue screen type room with a VR headset. The fear is introduced in a slow series of encounters until the person begins overcoming the fear.
2. Training Manufacturing and Retail Employees
Virtual reality is a safe way of training employees in the intricate use of machinery. Particularly in some manufacturing industries, training means the difference between safety and potential injury. However, the technology also has benefits for nearly any type of exercise that requires real-world scenarios.
Simulations run the gamut from an encounter with a difficult customer to working on a dangerous machine that might kill a person if not used correctly.
3. Practicing for Surgeries
Another area where VR is making strides is in medicine. In the past, surgeons tried to plan out intricate surgeries, but much of the process was experimental. With VR, surgeons can now map out delicate brain surgery and practice before the actual surgery or come up with new ways of completing medical procedures and trying them out in a virtual world first.
Doctors practiced separating conjoined twins at the Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. VR is also utilized for review of surgeries after the fact so surgeons can improve with each procedure. No longer are people used as guinea pigs for new methods, but doctors thoroughly test the procedure before attempting the operation.
4. Marketing With an Edge
Another area where VR and AR appear frequently is marketing. New advances in the capability of smartphones allow advertisers to implement features which come to life when the user hovers their mobile device over a particular image. Print advertising comes to life with a combination of unique codes and mobile devices.
Expect to see AR utilized on social media, websites and in more print advertising than ever before. For example, M&Ms recently integrated AR with a campaign to sell their new caramel filled candies by turning billboards into games when people pointed their smartphones at a particular billboard.
5. Creating Cars for the Automotive Industry
Vehicle designers have a pretty good idea about aerodynamics and what goes into the design of a new car. However, there is still a costly process of creating prototypes and testing everything for safety and endurance. One way to speed up this process is through the use of VR technology. In the past, designers started on paper, but today they draw with the help of computer-aided design (CAD).
When Ford’s design team created the 2000X, they used virtual reality to get a jump start on the design process. They used a virtual lab space, and the designers moved around and made alterations to see how they’d work. The use of a virtual image also allowed designers to look at the vehicle through the eyes of the consumer and see what might need improving.
6. Enhancing Real Estate Listings
Imagine a world where potential home buyers walk through a house from a distant location rather than driving to a home in another city. A virtual tour of a home allows buyers to rule out listings which don’t meet their needs and narrow down their search, saving both them and the listing agent time and money.
Another advantage of using VR for real estate listings is that the person can plug their own furniture into the home and see if everything fits or looks the way they’d like. No more imagining if your sofa might look okay in the space. You’ll know immediately if it fits and how it looks.
7. Advancing the Troops
The military has used VR for a while to show soldiers potential real-life scenarios they might encounter while overseas. A highly trained military force is possible as well as helping specialize training for higher order forces, such as the Navy Seals. All three branches of the United States military utilize VR — Army, Navy and Air Force.
Some of the ways the military uses VR is for flight simulation, battlefield medic training, battlefield simulation, vehicle over rough terrain simulations and virtual boot camps. The Army has a fully immersive VR system at Fort Bragg. Such a system allows an entire squadron of soldiers to practice together in simulations of possible scenarios they’ll encounter while out in the field.
Adding VR to Your Industry
No matter what industry you serve, VR and AR enhance some of what you do. Whether you invest in a VR system for training or simulate situations, VR creates a highly trained and adaptable workforce.
As headsets go down in price and become easier to use, expect more small businesses to jump onto the VR train. They’ll be utilizing the latest technology for exploration and transformation. Think about how VR might help grow your business today. Then consider what type of return on investment you might see.