Virtual Reality Promises to Boost Business Growth and Innovation

GUEST POST: Serena Garner

This year VWF encourages audiences to discover, VR Storytelling. We are offering Keynotes, Panels, Workshops to help creators wrap their creative minds about the opportunities VR presents. GUEST BLOGGER Serena Garner takes us one step further introducing us to the Business applications that open up for digital creators who Maser VR. 

Virtual Reality Promises to Boost Business Growth and Innovation by Serena Garner

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Virtual reality (VR) creates artificial, computer-generated, three-dimensional environments that users can immerse themselves in to experience something new. With years of development behind it, VR has finally become not only practical but affordable to the general public and businesses.

Using sophisticated headsets, a user can see in a panoramic setting by moving their head as they would in the real world. They can reach out and virtually touch items, interact with, and learn from them. Audiences can explore new ideas, and, yes, play some pretty cool games. The technology also promises to move beyond the early-adopting gamer market into mainstream businesses of all kinds.

Last year, Oculus released an Oculus for Business package that has jump-started the integration of virtual reality into the business world. The package includes headsets and sensors that enable businesses to create applications that enhance their business and marketing strategies.

While video gaming will likely remain the largest single market segment for VR, applications in healthcare, industry, consumer products, and more will together dominate the overall market. As people become more accustomed to headsets, developers can transition from custom mobile app development to development on new platforms and devices.

Training in VR Will Save Costs and Increase Safety

VR apps will become a huge component of the training process for businesses in every industry. By creating environments that simulate a workplace, businesses can revolutionize their staff training with real-world scenarios that depict actual challenges and situations they will face on the job.

What’s more, the virtual environment will allow workers in hazardous and high-risk occupations like factory work, first responders, and medical staff to fail in complete safety. They can learn from their mistakes and not endanger themselves or the people they interact within the real world.

Police departments are already using VR to train officers on how to handle emergency calls involving volatile mental health cases. By putting officers in realistic training sessions, they can react as they would in the field and correct mistakes without risk. They can learn, for instance, methods for de-escalation and reduce armed confrontations.

In an example of less emergency-situated work, customer services reps can be trained in more true-to-life role-playing scenarios. They can learn how best to present their knowledge of products and services, handle difficult situations, and reduce stress and errors when they move to a live environment.

General Business Applications Will Expand

Beyond training, businesses will be empowered to create customer experiences that enhance their marketing and sales strategies. The car manufacturer Audi, for example, is already employing VR in dealerships. The system lets customers interact with cars like they’re the real thing, play around with options and amenities, and enjoy the feel of using the product.

Eventually, artificial intelligence (AI) will start to incorporate into services platforms, working directly with customers much like chatbots do already. The experience can be tailored to individual profiles in order to anticipate future needs.

An AI program integrated with VR can guide a customer through a virtual store and recommend merchandise that works with items they already own. The medical field will evolve to help patients navigate their healthcare needs and concerns based on their secured records.

Travel agent giant Thomas Cook has been utilizing VR to lead customers deeper into their travel planning and purchases. Customers can take virtual tours of hotels and individual rooms, stroll through Disneyland, or take a helicopter ride. All of these can then be booked for the real life experience.

Improved Products and Services at Lower Costs

For cost-conscious businesses, VR will lower costs along all levels of development and use. Instead of creating multiple prototypes of new products, successive iterations of a product can be designed in VR. This allows them to be experienced, and tested, before mocking up expensive physical versions. For manufacturing or healthcare, room-size simulators or practice theaters will be replaced by headsets and software, while also expanding the number of users who can train or experiment at the same time.

The market applications for VR are only beginning. In the next five to ten years, previously unheard of innovations will transform how people work, shop, play--and businesses will be at the cutting edge of delivering these new experiences.