More Than Play: Five Ways Virtual Reality is Growing Up

Sep 21, 2016 | by Peter Shashkin

Immersive and exciting, Virtual Reality is already part of our lives, whether it’s a plot device in a new sci-fi thriller or the best way to enjoy the latest video games or thrill rides. And information-rich Augmented Reality isn’t far behind – from heads-up displays in high-end automobiles to the unprecedented success of Pokémon Go.

While VR takes you anywhere you can imagine, AR provides contextual information about actual people and objects in your environment. Together, they have unparalleled potential, and entertainment and gaming merely scratch the surface (picture the immensely popular holodecks on Star Trek).

From voice and gesture controls to 3D rendering, artificial intelligence, and object recognition, we already have the technology to unleash the true potential of AVR.

Combined with rich data, consumer demand, and reasonable hardware costs, the future of Augmented Virtual Reality (AVR) will be delivered across a number of business applications. From logistics to sightseeing, here are just five ways you should see Augmented Virtual Reality as the next great business tool:

  1. Social Media: What if customers could attend the unveiling of your new vehicle at the international auto show, virtually explore the interior, or take it on a test drive before the first car has left the factory? Already we’re seeing numerous 360-degree video applications – add the right goggles and data, and your social media posts will get a lot more social.
  2. Education: Realistic 3D modeling plus the wealth of medical data available and AVR can be used to create virtual emergency or operating rooms – where medical students can train for a variety of situations and procedures on realistic patients, first-person with step-by step instructions that guide them. Or, a history classroom where goggles can identify locations on a map or globe and bring up contextual information about battles or other historical events.
  3. Real Estate, Architecture, and Design: Realtors can take their clients on an interactive walkthrough of a home, with annotations about when it was built, when the kitchen renovation was completed, and even when the water heater was last serviced. And if those clients are in another city, state, or continent, they can take the same tour right where they stand. Homeowners can walk through their new homes before the first brick is laid, including the ability to move their furniture around, choose paint colors, and more.
  4. Travel, Tourism and Recreation: Never get lost in a city again, or take your guided tours to the next level with AVR goggles that take you right to the history of the Tower of London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Great Pyramids – complete with re-enactments, pop-up facts, and full historical context. And never be embarrassed at the gym again – your AVR goggles can provide a virtual trainer and instructions on how to use every machine in the room.
  5. Training, Certification and Retail: Picture it: apprentice plumbers, mechanics and sales associates training and practicing on virtual pipes, being able to look under the hood of a car and have every part instantly identified, or looking at an item and instantly telling a customer how many they have in stock – at your store or the next town over. Or, full-featured flight simulators that are powered by your smartphone or tablet.

…And that’s just the first five. When you think about today’s available technology, the possibilities for AVR business applications are almost endless. As a matter of fact, the first AVR implementations are already rolling out for developers, like Microsoft’s HoloLens – the first “..fully self-contained holographic computer.”

Not only will AVR go mainstream and transform storytelling, it will provide a boost to all the supportive industries – data, artificial intelligence, sensor and rendering technology, user interface, voice recognition, even hardware (because the only thing better than last year’s headset is next year’s smaller, lighter one).

Like I said, we’re just starting to scratch the surface of AVR’s potential to deliver new channels for information consumption, whether you’re sharing virtual prototypes with shareholders, or showing off new products to customers. But no matter your business, the future of virtual and augmented reality goes far beyond immersive movies or a new high score.