Virtual reality today is much more than gaming technology only. The article covers 9 industries where VR can be used for business purposes with supporting examples of existing cases.
Virtual reality is likely not what you expect. You probably associate it with gaming, entertainment ads in malls, or movies like Ready Player One. But today virtual reality has been adjusted to serve various industries that seek new innovative ways to achieve success. Although there are many ways and spheres to apply this technology, some fields can benefit highly.
VR technology is an excellent tool to increase profit and attract customers in retail. People have shown their appreciation of e-commerce service and are eager to go further. 70% of customers admitted they are strongly interested in virtual shopping.
Virtual reality experience provides customers with a completely new level of service from an ability to try on clothes while at home to decorating a room that is not even built yet. Variety of solutions makes it a highly applicable and adjustable tool. Big companies like IKEA, eBay or Topshop have already put VR into practice, each of them in their unique way. While IKEA suggests their customers a tour to a virtual kitchen of their dreams, eBay has built an interactive personalized catalog for easy shopping.
2. Health care
We all hope one day there will be no diseases and the world will be a perfectly healthy place. But until then we should keep developing the health care industry and the latest technology is what can help. Virtual reality is among them.
VR in healthcare can be useful for both patients and doctors. People receive therapy with VR applications to fight fears and phobias. There already exist solutions aimed to educate and share experience: virtual surgeries, emergency training, VR anatomy applications. There was even a live stream of an operation – that’s how far it went.
But this is only the beginning. We have just started discovering the full potential of extended realities in healthcare and medicine. Maybe in five or 10 years, we won’t even have to leave our house to get examined by a doctor and surgeries will be done remotely by operating a robot.
3. Film & entertainment
First it was just a moving picture. Then it turned into a 3D image. Now you can watch a film and be a part of it. Virtual reality cinemas is definitely a thing we should expect to appear more in the near future.
This new approach to storytelling blurs the boundaries between the story and the viewer making him a central element of the movie. There has even appeared a new term – “cinematic VR” – a type of VR experience based on 360-degree videos filmed with a special camera. However, such films can also be made from scratch using 3D graphics, like this short movie about a shark attack.
Many companies have started embracing virtual technology to present their products with a twist. For example, Sony announced developing a “non-game virtual reality project” based on the TV show Breaking Bad and Disney offers a range of immersive entertainment based on their animation films.
4. Marketing & advertising
Marketers today are in constant search of better ways to draw customer’s attention. People are getting bored of typical advertising and virtual reality is what can awe them. VR experience offers people a unique way to interact with the brand that will surely be remembered.
There is no one way how to use VR for advertising – each brand comes up with new solutions and creative ideas. Some, like Patron, use 360 videos to tell about the story of their company and product. Topshop, for example, offered their customers an entertainment dedicated to their summer collection. Such a flexible tool as virtual reality grants marketers endless opportunities to create and excite their customers.
VR’s potential in the automotive industry is starting to unleash. First steps were taken several years ago and since then companies keep exploring what VR can bring them.
Creating a concept and designing a manufacturing line based on virtual data was an idea of Ford. Ford’s Immersive Vehicle Environment is aimed to combine forces of engineers from different countries to work on the design and simulate assembly work taking into account employee safety.
Volvo and Audi, on the other side, focused on user experience. The first one offered their customers an opportunity to take a virtual test drive using their smartphone, while Audi’s application allowed the customers to try various configurations of the car.
6. Construction & real estate
A picture is worth a thousand words. Especially when it comes to construction and design – it is much easier to persuade a person to buy or rent a house if they see it. And virtual reality is a perfect tool for visualization.
75% of users prefer a virtual tour to help them to take a decision. Virtual tours allow a customer to see and explore the house or a flat at any time without leaving a comfortable office. In some cases, it is even possible to take a look at the building in construction and make some changes to the owner’s taste. Interactive applications also allow playing with design and furnishing to style the accommodation.
Architects and designers also benefit from implementing VR into their work. With virtual reality, it is much easier to visualize the construction plan, check if there are any mistakes and share opinions with colleagues.
Sport attracts a lot of attention. Millions of people watch matches or races on TV and the internet and thousands visit live events. VR combines the excitement of a live event with the comfort of your own home. There are services that broadcast live events using 360 cameras. In such a case the viewer enjoys the experience as if they were there in person.
Professional athletes adopted VR as a means of training. US Olympic ski team members used virtual sessions to prepare for the Winter Olympics in South Corea. One of the skiers even used it as a part of her post-trauma rehabilitation.
Virtual reality in sports is undoubtedly useful for both the spectators and the sportsmen so VR broadcasting and immersive training will definitely take their place in the industry.
Education must be interesting to be efficient. That is true for both children and adults. Immersive workshops and simulators contribute to educational process increasing students’ engagement and general efficiency. Virtual workshops will help children learn how laws of physics actually work, what the Solar system looks like and how to grow a plant.
Educational applications are not always tied up to the school environment. People of different professions use VR simulators to upgrade their skills. It is especially important when it helps people avoid or cope with dangerous situations: there are solutions for firefighters, doctors, military. Training and workshops are themselves a useful activity, but VR adds even more value making them innovative and engaging.
The same as real estate, the tourism sphere takes all the advantages of VR as a visualization tool. Travel agencies now have the ability to showcase the destination much better than with a brochure. Thomas Cook used virtual tours across different locations to convince people they should travel more. It is reported that this move resulted in 190% uplift in New York excursion bookings.
Besides traveling around the world, VR solutions also include visiting museums and galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The British Museum presented 360 video excursions to let people see the treasures they have. Seeing them on screen may encourage some to go there in real life.
VR is a budding industry
As you see, VR is far more than gaming only. It can be applied to many spheres and bring them benefit as well as joy and fun. So next time you think about how to make things better in your business, consider virtual reality.