VR (Virtual Reality) refers to computer technology that depicts a simulated environment. Unlike regular interfaces where users interact with screens, while still being consciously present in a physical environment, VR places users right in the middle of 3D experiences.
Virtual reality environments are accessible with the help of VR headsets. To illustrate, consider the Oculus or Samsung Gear VR headset offering movies, games and a selection of ways in which users can immerse themselves in new environments.
To date, a lot of discussions about the technology have to do with its impact on immersive gameplay. But lately, other industries have started seeing the benefits of the technology and using it to transform how they work.
In this post, we are going to discuss how VR is impacting and transforming different industries.
Travel and Tourism
It's easy to research possible tourist destinations now more than ever before. Just Google the location you are interested in and travelers can find links of several travel or review websites that have information on everything that can make their trip comfortable. For instance, a travel website can have reviewed of the best hotel destinations and nearby popular attractions. However, it's one thing to view sandy beaches and city scapes on screen and another to actually being there.
Now, imagine being able to take in the scenic beauty of Turkey in the comfort of your home and still getting the same experience as if you were there yourself. Today, achieving this has become possible thanks to VR.
Some travel businesses are using the power of Virtual Reality to bring these experiences a little closer than a screen. For example, the Vegas VR app allows users to take 360 degree video tours of attractions, restaurants, clubs and hotels in Las Vegas without actually visiting the city.
Healthcare is another industry where Virtual Reality is making a place for itself. Its transforming the way doctors understand and deal with patients in different medical fields.
One of these fields is geriatric medicine, a medical specialty that deals with elderly care. Senior patients often suffer from impairments that makes it difficult for doctors to connect with them while carrying out diagnostic procedures. To illustrate, consider when a senior patient is asked to take a cognitive test. If the patient has a hearing impairment, he will have difficulty following what the doctor says during the test.
Lately, VR is giving doctors and patients the chance to bridge this disconnection. For example, the technology recently gave young caretakers a chance to foster more empathy for elderly patients with a VR project called “We are Alfred.”
A 360 degree video, viewable through Virtual Reality headsets, allows users to experience what it is like to live as a 76 year old man who suffers from hearing and visual impairments and the challenges he faces. Feeling firsthand on what it is like living with these conditions gave carers more insight into senior care.
It's one thing to shop for items online. Shopping for items as if you are in a retail store, without actually visiting one, is another thing entirely. This is how virtual reality is transforming retail. Recently, retailers are using simulated 3D environments to make online shopping experiences more realistic.
Making product visualization possible for buyers in a simulated reality fosters an emotional connection that cannot be achieved if these items are purchased from an ecommerce website. This has several benefits for retailers as well. For one, it provides them a chance to give shoppers more empowering online shopping experiences. Secondly, it gives them the chance to change how consumers feel about their brands.
To illustrate, consider how the home improvement store Lowe’s uses VR to create its “Holoroom How to” experience to train customers in DIY projects like installing shower tiles in their bathroom. Other examples include:
Virtual showrooms: Showrooms are pretty common in home improvement stores and are used by retailers to display their products. Recently, they have started using VR technology to make this experience even more interactive. To illustrate, consider the IKEA Virtual Reality experience which allows users to be creative in how they would use the brand’s products in simulated environments.
Store redesigns: For businesses, it is far more cheaper to create virtual stores to visualize store layouts before investing in actual redesigns. A virtual experience of the redesign helps retail owners envision better how their store would look compared to a 2D image. Consider InContext Solutions, a VR retail solution provider which gives store owners the ability to plan store layouts.
VR is set to change the way we interact with the world. It offers industries new ways to reach out to consumers. In the process, it is transforming marketplaces and consumer behavior. And if industries hope to make the best use of Virtual Reality, they need to be creative. Judging from what we discussed so far, the technology holds a lot of potential in making businesses connect with consumers.