Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment that consists of realistic images, sounds and all, what we may experience as human beings. A unique feature of VR is that it simulates physical presence in it.
The first VR system, introduced in the world, was the Sensorama, created by filmmaker Mort Heilig in 1962 year. It was a cabin that produced flavors, had a 3D display and vibrating seats. Mort believed that the Sensorama is the future of cinematography. He was right, but it didn’t come true in his lifetime.
But he laid the foundation of Virtual Reality technology that is becoming more and more commonly used in our lives, same as iPhone or laptop and other hi-tech gadgets.
They say, there are two types of people – those, who knows, that virtual reality will change the world and those, who has not yet got, what it is.
And that is true, especially if to recall an impressive deal when Facebook acquired Oculus VR for incredible US$2 billion in 2014 year. The company was developing a new VR headset, aimed to be better in the market and affordable for a broad audience. However, the product even had not been close to mass-production by the time, when the deal was closed.
That event was like a blow-up when people started to recognize, that the future belongs to virtual reality.
Nowadays VR market proposes a variety of Virtual Reality tools, helping to immerse into an unreal world. The most popular one is a VR headset, produced by such Virtual Reality software developers as Oculus, Sony, HTC, Samsung and Google.
A headset is equipped with a display and 3D audio and connected to a PC or smartphone. Tools, like head-tracking or eye-tracking systems, allow the computer to shift the picture respectively, depending on a position of wearer’s head or eyes. Motion tracking system, represented by controllers or gloves with buttons and sensory devices, help the wearer to use arms in virtual reality.
However all the devices mentioned above form an association with computer games, they create unlimited opportunities for other spheres and industries. So the most entrepreneurial companies have started to use Virtual Reality technologies for their business. Below there are several examples of how companies from different industries implement virtual reality to gain benefits for their business.
When Oculus headsets became available for the market, some companies started to propose it as a VR-attraction. So entrepreneurs from Moscow sell a full-packed business for trade centers and shopping malls. The pack consists of an Oculus headset, PC with pre-installed software and 70 games. The idea is to rent 2 square meters in a shopping mall and to sell game play to visitors. According to the information at their website payback period for such VR-attraction in some Russian cities was one month only.
More and more companies now are starting to specialize in providing virtual reality experience in a segment of luxury property. The companies use VR headset to create virtual apartments in buildings that have not been built yet. It allows to meet customer’s expectations in full, as changes to design may be done in real time (colors of walls, fabric on furniture). Also, it saves costs, associated with traveling to a place, where the building will be constructed. So a customer may visit his future apartment in Miami, sitting at his home in London. However VR technologies are quite expensive yet, so such virtual mockup adds additional $1m to overall apartment costs.
Experts say that Virtual Reality development software for real estate industry will be a US $2.6 billion market by 2025 year.
Here Virtual Reality is going even further and proposes to users to be a jockey during a horse race. Project “Get In The Race” allows gathering data about horse position with 1-meter accuracy in real-time and users may choose a point of view to follow the race. It is expected that this may inspire a renewed interest in horse races.
Travelling is a unique experience for people and chance to try something new and unknown. The tourism industry is based on this fact. So, virtual reality is a fantastic opportunity for those, who want to attract tourists, to get them a flavor of adventures. For example, Marriott hotel introduced the Teleport project – cabins that create environment and climate conditions (the wind, temperature) of a chosen location. So a tourist may see New York, even if he has never been there.
It is another industry, where benefits from virtual reality are obvious. Car giant Ford used to build a car prototype to evaluate the design changes. Now they may just modify a car design in virtual reality and look at it from customer’s point of view before a prototype would be constructed.
Another known car producer Volvo proposes to its clients virtual test-drive of Volvo XC90. So you can try a Volvo car, even if you never would be able to afford it.
These are just some cases of effective implementation of Virtual Reality in business. And software developers all over the world are working hard to create new Virtual Reality programs for the emerging market.
No doubts that soon virtual reality will give us a chance to visit places, we have never even dreamed about, like far off countries. Or we will be able to drop into the Louvre on weekends, just using a headset. Maybe we even will do shopping in a virtual mall, picking up virtual goods without leaving our home. And if you put your thinking cap on and continue further reflection on opportunities, provided by virtual reality, you will see that it opens another world, not less than a real one.