Virtual reality is an upcoming and fast-growing technology that is changing the way business gets done. Some estimates say that VR will become a $150 billion industry by 2020 and will disrupt mobile technology. Other estimates predict it will become a $4 billion industry sooner than 2020.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is a mixture of computer hardware and software that works together to create sensations that simulate being in a real physical environment or imaginary setting. The technology mainly uses visual and audio sensations to create the environment, but work is being done to include haptic systems to create the sense of touch by applying forces, motions and vibrations. Some technologies even allow the user to smell and taste.
Key Players in VR
Some of the world’s largest technology companies are heavily investing in VR and creating their own devices and platforms. Here are four of the largest innovators in the field:
Google Cardboard is an the lowest-cost VR option available today. The VR viewer is a head-mounted device made of cardboard that can be purchased for as little as $20, or users can download the plans for free and create their own. Once completed, all that is needed is a Android phone or iPhone.
Oculus Rift is a leader in the field in VR. The company mainly focuses on VR application for video gaming. However, it is also exploring business applications. The product is also a head-mounted device and shows a VR scene in a full 360-degree view.
The Samsung Gear VR sells for under $200. The headset device works with Android phones and has a 96-degree field of view.
HTC Vive VR – Valve Software is the company behind the HTC Vive VR. Very little is known about this product, as it is still under development. It will work over a larger area, about 15 feet by 15 feet, and will also include hand-based controllers.
Replacing Costly Real-World Physical Modeling
A great example of VR being used in business today is in physical modeling. For example, VR is used in interior design to allow customers and clients to see the output of their design decisions before any work is done or any purchases are made. This same concept is being used in renovations for homes, businesses and more.
This can even be used to model the interior of a new type of car. A decision maker using VR can virtually sit in the newly modeled automobile and tinker around before a single physical example vehicle is manufactured.
Realistic Workplace Training and Demonstrations
VR can be used for training exercises that are either costly or dangerous to execute in the real world. For example, the U.S. military uses VR for flight training for all types of pilots and aircraft. It also uses VR for parachute and infiltration simulations. VR simulations have been used in firefighting exercises, medical emergencies and surgeries, architectural experiments, and more.
Often, trainees train repeatedly on the VR to perfect their skills before attempting a real-world training exercise. VR technology saves lives, prevents injury and the destruction of physical objects, and saves money.
Meetings and Conferences Across the World
VR is becoming another option for business meetings. It allows the users to experience a much more intimate setting and a more personal and interesting experience than simple video conferencing on a laptop or desktop. VR allows a business demonstration to provide a full 360-degree view of a product, making VR increasingly popular for business gatherings.
Visiting Construction Sites Worldwide Without Needing to Travel or Building
VR is also changing the construction industry by showing project managers, investors and residents finished construction projects before even a single brick is laid or hole dug. Considering the time and expense involved, VR is a huge positive disruption to the construction industry. Now, changes can be made before it is too late and the project is at a stage when certain aspects would be irreversible.
Sports and Competition Viewing
The entire industry of sports and competitions will change due to VR. The 2016 World Chess Championship occurring in New York City is the first event in the history of sports to be broadcast live in full 360-degree VR. This capability is likely to become the standard for all sports and competitions; it is simply a question of when VR reaches a large user base.