How Virtual Reality Can Be Used by Businesses
This year could finally be the year virtual reality lifts off, after a lot of failed attempts in the past but the question still remains; is virtual reality for business for real? There is already a slew of hardware choices on the VR market and VR technology finally seems to be catching up with the concept.
VR for business, however, is still only on the horizon. For now, VR is overwhelmingly being positioned as a form of entertainment and gaming. As of 2016 first quarter, virtual reality for business is still not very prevalent, at least as far as the hardware vendors such as Oculus and Samsung, are concerned.
But that’s not to say businesses are shunning virtual reality as there are already some exceptional examples of VR for business use that are slowly emerging even as people play games. While some are designed to give a virtual reality experience, others give an alternate reality experience.
Virtual reality for business may still only be in its early stages, but it is already showing promise to help companies give customers access to information in ways that a 2D monitor simply cannot deliver. This will only improve as vendors get better at it and more VR firms for business and not games emerge.
It is projected that shipments of VR headset worldwide will reach 9.6 million units by the end of this year, up from 350,000 last year, and will eventually reach 64.8 million by 2020. While the bulk is expected to be used for games, there will certainly be some business uses as well. In fact there already are. This article examines some of the VR solutions that are already in existence.
IKEA’s virtual store
A visit to an IKEA can be akin to torture, no thanks to its confusing layout and often chaotic activity. Then as you start examining floor models for room designs, the model might be only in one style and you don’t have the option of seeing other designs.
The Swedish retailer has recently partnered with HTC, maker of the Vive headset, to create an VR for business app dubbed the IKEA VR Experience which allows interior decorators and designers to create custom kitchens and explore different three different kitchen designs and customize them on the fly. It is possible to change the color of cabinets and drawers with a click and move around the kitchen from the perspectives of small children or tall adults.
Excedrin’s Migraine Experience
Why would anyone decide to experience a migraine headache if they don’t get them? The answer, according to Novartis, maker of Excedrin, is empathy. Excedrin’s VR Migraine Experience gives a non-sufferer at least the visual element of a migraine, even though it can’t simulate the pain (thankfully), so they see that what the migraine sufferer endures is not a minor experience.
Novartis says 36 million Americans are affected by migraines, that is, about one-tenth of the entire population, but that “Migraines are still widely misunderstood — largely because those who don’t experience the condition can’t fully understand it.”
The VR experience is designed to show what it’s like to have the visual symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and sound, disorientation, and visual disturbances, sometimes manifesting as spots or jagged edges or flashes of light that are blinding.
British oncology surgeon Dr. Shafi Ahmed, in 2014, live streamed the removal of a tumor from the liver and bowel of a patient with the use of Google Glass. The stream was viewed by 13,000 surgical students, healthcare professionals and members of the public in more than 100 countries.
Now, he has gone even further with a procedure to remove a colon tumor that will be streamed live from the Royal London hospital and viewable there with VR headsets. The operation, which will be filmed by a number of special cameras placed above the operating table, will allow trainee physicians to have a better view than traditional filmed surgery, which is traditionally over the shoulder of the doctor. The use of VR cameras means they can position themselves anywhere and view the operation from all angles.
Ahmed told the UK Guardian he believes the next step in a few more years would be to add additional components that would allow surgical viewers to experience the same touch and feel the surgeon is experiencing via a VR type of glove.
AOL’s virtual newsroom
AOL recently acquired RYOT, the maker of a virtual reality-powered news service, and they plant to incorporate it into a special subdomain of The Huffington Post to create “the world’s largest 360° and VR news network.” RYOT will eventually be expanded to cater to all of AOL’s properties, including Engadget, TechCrunch, and Autoblog.
RYOT was founded, by two Americans who met while working in Haiti to help with earthquake relief in, 2012. They came up with a news outlet that focused strictly on socially conscious issues, such as the earthquake in Nepal and the raucous political rallies being held this year. The experience is captured with a special 360-degree camera so that when watched on a VR headset, it puts you in the middle of the story instead of just watching it.
Lowe’s Home Improvement has begun to roll out a VR experience at its stores nationwide that allows customers to have a 3D view of a room redesign before actually effecting it. The customer, using an Oculus headset in the store, can then export their design to YouTube 360 and view it at home with a Google Cardboard headset which is much cheaper.
Holoroom makes use of Marxent’s VisualCommerce to turn its products into 3D objects, which the customer then uses to design a kitchen or bathroom. They can pick from different designs of tiles, countertops, sinks, faucets, appliances, toilets and other finishes and products. Selections can be changed around at will until a final design is created. Once the design is complete, the customer can then purchase the actual selection of products.