Is Virtual Reality a Dying Trend?
August 16, 2021
Virtual reality isn’t just for gaming but for enterprise use too—this is called Enterprise VR. What is ‘enterprise virtual reality?’ The term enterprise just means that it’s used for business or by businesses. And enterprise VR has been adopted in the business world for employee training and for collaboration or design.
Back in 2019, data was already showing that enterprise use for virtual reality was far exceeding its use among consumers. Hypergrid Business reported on a study from VR Intelligence that revealed that enterprise virtual reality use was showing much stronger growth according to vendors in the field; while only 24 percent reported strong growth for consumer use, nearly half (46 percent) reported strong growth for enterprise virtual reality.
Enterprise vs. Consumer
For the consumer, virtual reality might only serve one purpose: gaming. While some consumers might use virtual reality apps for a more unique experience, the technology tends to be popular for gaming experiences. While these games are incredibly immersive, the virtual experience requires a headset. These headsets allow gamers to enter the virtual world, but many headsets come with a rather expensive price tag.
Oculus Quest headsets cost a little less than $300. An HTC Vive Cosmos can soar to almost $700. Playstation also offers a virtual reality headset; the headset is usually bundled with other accessories and/or games and may cost more than $500.
Even when consumers choose the least expensive virtual reality headset on the market, the experience is still a considerable investment. If the headset is being given to a teen, the concern could be that the trendiness of the tech might not hold interest for very long; after all, technology is constantly changing.
Enterprise Virtual Reality
With Enterprise Virtual Reality, though, the price of the headset may be less of an issue especially for businesses that consider it an investment for training or other uses. Businesses may get more use out of the technology, and virtual reality also could help them improve internal processes like new employee training or interviewing.
In this way, virtual reality might actually save money for businesses who invest a considerable amount of time for hiring and training. Strivr is a company that creates virtual reality training experiences for businesses; Strivr has been used by companies like Verizon and Fidelity.
Strivr’s virtual reality platforms can be tailored to each business’s training needs . For retail customers, experiences could include virtual training sessions that include customer interactions. Virtual reality also could be used to simulate dangerous situations for which employees need to be prepared—like how to handle a robbery. In fact, one of the case studies highlighted on Strivr’s site included the work it did for Verizon; the immersive VR experience prepared employees on armed robberies.
In the real world, this experience likely couldn’t be realistically simulated. In the virtual realm, Strivr explained that employees learned how to de-escalate the situation and also learned how to handle ‘snatch and grab’ events, too.
Enterprise virtual reality also could be used for other employee training experiences, too. New employees could face difficult customers and learn how to handle confrontation situations without losing their cool. One of the greatest benefits about virtual reality is that it can be re-experienced. Maybe an employee didn’t handle the situation correctly; the manager could discuss other ways of handling the event, and the employee could re-enter the virtual realm and try again.
Businesses could build their entire training program around virtual reality if necessary. The use of the technology also could free up other team members. For many companies, managers or other team members are pulled in to help train a new employee. With virtual reality, technology could manage the training. This allows other team members to continue to do their job, stay productive and keep the cost of employee training lower.
Virtual Reality for Collaboration
During Covid, companies used virtual reality for team collaboration. Ford used headsets to enter a virtual realm and critique new car designs. Team members could join the virtual experience from home, and, while executives might have been miles apart, virtual reality allowed collaboration to continue.
Even after the pandemic subsides, teams may continue to work from home. Many companies might have realized that allowing employees to work from home helped reduce office costs…and maybe employees were happier. Virtual reality headsets could allow a unique space for meetings and conferences that require everyone to view the same data at once.
What Industries are Using Enterprise Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality can be used for training and collaboration, and many different sectors are embracing this technology. Automotive, healthcare, retail, tourism, real estate, architecture and even gambling industries use virtual reality.
The healthcare industry has used virtual reality experiences for medical training. Some experiences could provide immersive environments for students. At University of California San Francisco (UCSF), medical students use virtual reality to explore anatomy; the technology lets students “…deconstruct and reconstruct muscles, organs, and bones layer-by-layer.”
However, the healthcare industry also could use virtual reality to aid patients. Virtual reality provides a safe realm for those experiencing anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to engage in ‘exposure therapy’ to help overcome their fears. Someone who is afraid of spiders, for example, could enter virtual reality and deal with spiders in a virtual environment. The therapist remains by their side, and the patient could exit the experience at any time. Virtual reality can provide a gentle way to slowly build up a tolerance to fears.
Retail industries can use virtual reality for employee training or even as a customer experience. IKEA provides a virtual reality experience in the store that allows users to design their dream kitchen. In this virtual realm, users can actually interact with things in the kitchen. They can change colors of different features and create the kitchen they love. Even more amazing? The experience lets users transform themselves into kid-size…yes, you can shrink yourself! This could help parents figure out how their child would see and experience the kitchen and possibly help them find potential dangers, too.
The tourism industry also has embraced virtual reality. Some museums offer virtual reality experiences to interact with particular exhibits. However, during Covid, many news outlets (including the BBC) reported that virtual reality was providing unique tourism experiences. The BBC reported that Germany released tourism experiences for the Oculus Rift and a few for Hololens, too.
Could virtual reality provide a tourism gateway for the future? Perhaps headsets provide a unique way to experience different parts of the world without investing in a plane ticket, hotels and transportation. Virtual reality could be the budget-friendly travel of the future!
Real estate agents might have used virtual reality, too. Virtual tours of homes were popular even before the pandemic. However, touring a home during the height of Covid might have meant many restrictions. Virtual tours could provide a way for buyers to preview a home without actually walking through it in person. These tours also could have helped buyers narrow down their choices to homes that really ticked off all the boxes of their ‘must-have’ list.
For architects, virtual reality can provide a unique way to enable clients to not only visualize but experience a design concept. Looking at a drawing may require clients to visualize the concept, while stepping into virtual reality actually lets them walk into the concept and potentially understand what they like…and maybe what they don’t like.
Gambling & Casinos
Online gaming is ideal for virtual reality deployment. While many assume gaming is all about video games that immerse players into the action, virtual reality also can be a great platform for online casinos. Virtual reality can transport players from the screen into a virtual casino. They can play cards, play slot machines or just interact with other players.
Virtual reality also has been embraced by many other industries. Spas may use it to create a relaxing escape for clients; these virtual experiences could transport spa guests to a tropical oasis or somewhere serene.
Some industries—including automotive—use virtual reality to create virtual showrooms for a heightened user experience. Sites like RelayCars allow users to preview vehicles in a virtual environment with or without a headset. They can switch out the paint hues and look inside at the interior features.
Is Virtual Reality Dead?
Virtual reality is clearly not dead. The technology is widely used across numerous industries for many different reasons. Some industries use virtual reality for employee training or collaboration between teams. Others use virtual reality to create unique experiences for customers, like virtual tours or virtual showrooms.
This technology will likely evolve into more detailed and possibly more sensory experiences. Customers could soon begin to experience the smells of a destination or feel certain elements in the immersive environment. Virtual reality is not only alive and well but it will likely experience many different resurrections as its form and functions change, evolve and become more complex.