Virtual reality isn’t just for gamers anymore! VR is impacting the way companies do business. Read on to discover how VR is taking the business world by storm.

Virtual reality has been growing in popularity and sophistication for the past few decades. Early developments were certainly virtual but left much to be desired in reality. Recently, advances in graphics and mobility have developed a VR world accessible on a variety of devices.

And virtual reality is not just for video games and entertainment anymore. Estimates show that, by the year 2020, virtual reality could be a 30 billion dollar industry.

So what is virtual reality being used for now, and how will it be used in the future? Let’s take a closer look at how business leaders are creating a VR world.

A Brief History of Virtual Reality

First, let’s look at the history of virtual reality: where it’s been, where it is now, and what’s coming next.

At its core, virtual reality is any use of technology that creates a simulated, seemingly three-dimensional world. Virtual reality can also include the ability to track the user’s motions to manipulate this world.

Early on, VR world development was funded by NASA and the CIA. These organizations build driving and flight simulators for training purposes.

In the 1990s, virtual reality entered the world of video games and movies. At this point, development slowed down some. This led to negative perceptions of VR’s abilities.

The birth of contemporary VR, then, came with the Oculus Rift, which a Kickstarter campaign funded. This launched a new consumer-driven era of virtual reality. This has led companies like Samsung, Apple, and Google to jump on the opportunity to develop their own VR technologies.

How Businesses Will Use VR

Most people tend to think of virtual reality as a tool for playing video games or watching 3D movies. But there are actually many uses for VR in the business world. In fact, business uses are expected to soon outpace entertainment uses.

Here are some of the exciting ways that the VR world and business world will soon intersect.

Training Purposes

As we mentioned, VR was originally developed by government organizations for training purposes. So it only makes sense that new developments would also look to expand training options.

Virtual reality can immerse trainees in realistic situations. In these settings, trainees they can manipulate virtual objects and respond to potential problems.

Some forms of virtual reality technology have the sophistication to track eye movements. This can make the virtual experience seem even more realistic. It also reinforces the concepts and muscle movements learned in this setting.

Training in a VR world could be especially effective for medical professionals. Nurses, doctors, or surgeons could practice certain procedures before trying them on a patient. Students could practice starting an IV on a patient, or perform a complex surgery.

The best part of using virtual reality for medical training is the ability to practice over and over again. Trainees can also restart whenever necessary. And, if a mistake is made, no actual patient has been hurt.

Virtual reality will not just be for new professionals, though. Experienced surgeons could use VR to test out new tools and procedures. This will also help medical supply manufacturers test out new products.

Virtual reality training is a good choice for any professional who will work in a life or death situation. For instance, pilots could complete simulated flying hours before they ever actually take to the skies. This would decrease risk to life and property.

Virtual reality could also help address problems in training law enforcement. Officers could learn how to navigate dangerous situations. Or, they could simply practice situations like routine traffic stops.

This practice would help officers learn when it is appropriate to use their weapon. Working in simulated scenarios could help decrease incidents of police brutality.

Testing Prototypes

Companies are always looking for less expensive ways to develop and test prototypes. 3D printing, already a 7 billion dollar industry, has provided a quick and easy way for businesses to create testable objects.

But virtual reality could provide an even easier way to test prototypes. A company could make an object in a VR world. Then, they could manipulate that object using various available technologies.

This would give developers an idea of how this potential product would function. They could also show this virtual prototype to investors or potential customers.

Virtual reality could allow architects to develop interactive prototypes of their building plans. This would function like a 3D blueprint that clients could walk through and manipulate.

Simulated Experiences

Businesses are already using technology to remove the need for direct human contact. Ordering kiosks, self-checkouts, and virtual doctors’ appointments are all ways to deliver services through technology.

While these have been convenient for customers, they can also be impersonal. For this reason, virtual reality could offer a good substitute to deliver these services. With virtual reality, a customer could actually interact with an associate.

Other types of professionals like therapists and consultants would also appreciate this service. They could interact with clients across the country, or even across the world. This ability would open up new opportunities in several different industries.

Marketing Developments

Virtual reality would also provide new marketing strategies for promoting products. With VR, marketers could use technology to familiarize customers with new offerings.

For example, VR world could also provide options for customers to explore new products and offerings. Instead of visiting an in-person showroom, a potential customer could visit a virtual one.

Virtual reality would give customers the opportunity to explore products that interest them without leaving home. They could even interact with sales associates in real time. This option could take the practice of online shopping to a whole new level.

With virtual reality, customers could do tasks as complex as test driving vehicles, or trying out new kitchen equipment. Using technology that tracked their movements would allow them to manipulate these virtual objects. This would help them get a real sense of whether they would like to work with them.

Virtual reality would not make real showrooms obsolete–at least not yet. But, the customers visiting showrooms would likely be at a later stage in the research process. This would allow sales reps to take a more directed approach.

Also, collecting information from customers visiting online showrooms could help generate leads. This could help marketers identify potential prospects to follow up with.

Tailored Advertisements

Another way that virtual reality can lead to new marketing practices is through personalized advertisements. A combination of facial recognition and eye-tracking technology could present the perfect ad at the perfect time.

For example, consider someone standing at a bus stop. When they turn to look at the ad, the computerized technology could identify who they were. It could then show them an appropriate ad.

In this scenario, the company would have already collected information about this customer from other online and in-person interactions. Upon identifying the customer, the screen could automatically show an ad that would be relevant to them.

This would be similar to when Facebook shows you ads for items you searched recently on Amazon. Only, this system would be even more advanced and personalized.

The Internet of Things

Businesses have already been using the internet of things to improve their operations. A VR world will provide even more options for this approach.

Simply put, the internet of things describes any item that is interconnected with the web through a computing device. A FitBit, or a thermostat that you can control with a computer is an example of the internet of things at work.

Businesses are using the internet of things to create smarter products, like a tennis racket or yoga mat that syncs with your smart phone. This gives users a streamlined experience.

The internet of things also uses sensors to gather information about the environment. For instance, a sensor on a store shelf could notify a warehouse when a store is out of a particular item. Or, sensors could give managers information about how their equipment is operating, and when it needs maintenance.

So how will virtual reality intersect with the internet of things? One way would be to make virtual experiences like teleconferencing seem more realistic.

For instance, VR and the internet of things could superimpose the image of the person you were speaking with on the room that you were in. This would make the virtual meeting feel more like a face to face conversation than a phone call.

Or, if the internet of things placed a sensor on a particular object, VR could allow someone to manipulate objects from miles away. This could be a good option for tasks that need to be performed in inaccessible areas.

Building a VR World

These VR world developments in business are changing technology as we know it. It will likely not be long before virtual reality technology is as ubiquitous as the smartphone.

If you would like to learn more about how virtual reality and other types of digital marketing technology can help your business, contact me.