Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and the future of business
We have already seen the use of holograms in Star Wars movies in the 1970s and early 1980s, and later virtual reality sets in Hollywood movies like Minority Report and The Matrix. But Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will soon be at our doorstep impacting the way we learn, shop, entertain ourselves and interact. In fact, this technology is already being used in multiple industries and its growth is going to skyrocket. According to International Data Corporation’s 2018 forecasts, investment in virtual reality and augmented reality will grow 21-fold over the next four years, reaching €15.5 billion (approximately $18.4 billion) in 2022.
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. It uses 3D and 360-degree images to capture space and depth similar to how human eyes do. In this way, VR creates a simulated environment of the real world and places the viewer in the middle of that environment for a fully immersive experience. The recent educational film Greenland Melting, produced in part by PBS, is a very good example of how virtual reality can make the user experience real landscapes in an immersive way. It allowed viewers to virtually witness the devastating impact of climate change on the Arctic.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality is the use of computer technology to enhance the physical world by adding layers of digital information on top of it. Unlike VR, AR does not create a totally artificial environment to replace reality. AR appears in direct view of an existing environment and adds sounds, videos and graphics to it. Today, many home furnishings stores use augmented reality-based apps so shoppers can see how a particular piece of furniture would look in their own home. This helps buyers visualize your space with the furniture they intend to buy and allows them to select the most suitable for their space.
How VR and AR are shaping the future?
There are many good reasons why companies are starting to invest in VR/AR technologies. Immersive experiences are now the tools of choice to extend learning and retain information. VR/AR technologies are proven to increase the level of engagement with audiences, whether in education or marketing. Those who use a VR/AR experience to complete a task engage more than those who use traditional methods. This translates into higher conversion rates and better learning outcomes.
Virtual reality and augmented reality training can also mitigate risk, whether in a life-or-death situation or a more mundane scenario of buyer’s remorse. These technologies are dynamic tools that allow mistakes to be made without consequences. This translates into multiple ways for companies to save money and time and avoid costly mistakes.
VR/AR will create new paradigms of engagement in all sectors. Let’s look at some of the ways that VR/AR will shape the future of user engagement and have a profound impact on the ways the world works in the areas of retail, travel, hospitality, research, education, pharmacy and more. health care, banking and finance, logistics, entertainment, etc.
One of the many uses of VR/AR is to provide enhanced immersive and engaging experiences to consumers in ways not previously possible. This higher and unique level of engagement will be highly beneficial to the marketing and retail industries, as well as to customer education. Companies are already investing in VR/AR technologies. According to the Forbes VR Brand Power Index, 75% of the world’s most valuable brands have created some type of virtual or augmented reality experience. Other possible future scenarios for VR are virtual stores that recreate the experience of a real store where users can walk the aisles and select the items they want to buy.
An outdoor sportswear company offered participants the virtual opportunity to tour Yosemite National Park and Nepal through an immersive experience. People were able to experience the thrill of a walk and that provided the motivation to purchase the necessary gear such as shoes, jackets, etc. that they would need for the actual walks.
In real estate, virtual tours will be better, more interactive and more immersive thanks to VR, bringing a higher level of convenience and speed to the home buying process. Buyers will be able to visualize a house as a home, customizing the details through VR that allows them to change the layout, paint the walls, add furniture, upgrade appliances, etc.
education and learning
Education and learning are other areas where virtual and augmented reality will flourish. Research has shown that VR and AR achieve a higher level of engagement with students. A Cornell University study found that students “overwhelmingly prefer the tool [VR] to more traditional methods.” It has been argued that experiential learning is the most effective way of learning.
A report by Grand View Research predicts that the VR healthcare market will grow to $5.1 billion by 2025.
VR is not only an extraordinary tool for training healthcare professionals in critical skills and procedures in a safe hologram environment, it is also rapidly emerging as an effective rehabilitation technology. Virtual reality environments are helping to restore basic motor skills, gait rehabilitation, and recovery from brain injuries. Studies have shown that VR technology is effective in curbing memory loss and delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s. The Higher Council for Scientific Research has managed to reduce the effects of Parkinson’s in several patients by applying a treatment that uses VR.
Virtual reality is used to train employees in high-risk situations in the business world, such as conflict management, employee performance evaluation, emergency situations, etc. For example, a global oil company used VR to train its employees on emergency procedures at its oil refinery. VR technology allowed employees to “practice” procedures multiple times in a safe environment, thus reducing their chance of making a mistake in the event of a real emergency, possibly saving lives.
In another training example, the US military has long used VR as a supplemental training method. Some of these training applications are flight simulations for pilots, battlefield simulations, and injury response for physicians.
For children and schools
AR is also becoming a learning tool for children and adults. AstroReality is an example of an educational AR project that features one of the most accurate models of the moon to date and is used to spark children’s imagination and interest in space.
VR and AR have been proven to improve employee productivity, especially in the manufacturing sector. Working with augmented reality allows workers to complete tasks more efficiently and with fewer errors.
Augmented Reality is not only improving efficiency in the workplace, but The Harvard Business Review reported that AR has generated optimism that industrial productivity will increase and that this will ultimately translate into higher wages.
The uses of VR and AR vary across industries, but in general these new technologies are used to help reduce risk, save costs, provide highly effective immersive learning experiences, and enhance the customer experience in retail . Cutting-edge companies are ahead of the curve, exploring VR and AR to revolutionize their businesses.
Encora’s VR/AR solutions have had a continuous impact on the performance of more than 300 companies, governments, educational institutions and non-profit organizations around the world. We have a team of highly qualified professionals who are distinguished by offering accessible and personalized VR/AR solutions. Contact us to discuss how we can help your company harness the power of VR/AR!