We’ve seen the use of holograms as far back as the Star Wars films in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, and later the virtual reality scenarios in Hollywood films such as Minority Report and The Matrix. But Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will soon be at our doorstep impacting the way we learn, shop, entertain, and interact. In fact, this technology is already being used in multiple industries and its growth is set to skyrocket. According to the 2018 forecasts by International Data Corporation, investment in virtual reality and Augmented Reality will be 21x over the next four years, reaching €15.5B (roughly $18.4B) by 2022.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. It utilizes 3D and 360-degree imaging to capture space and depth in a manner similar to the way human eyes do. In this way, VR creates a simulated environment of the real world and puts the viewer in the midst of this environment for a fully immersive experience. The recent educational film, Greenland Melting produced in part by PBS, is a very good example of how Virtual Reality can make the user experience real landscapes immersively. It enabled the viewers to virtually witness first hand the devastating impact of climate change on the Arctic.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality is the use of computer technology to enhance the physical world, adding layers of digital information onto it. Unlike VR, AR does not create a wholly artificial environment to replace reality. AR appears in the direct view of an existing environment and adds sounds, videos, graphics to it. Today, many home furnishing stores use AR-based apps to enable shoppers to view how a specific piece of furniture would look in their own home. This helps the buyers visualize their space with the furniture piece they are intending to buy and enables them to select the most appropriate one for their space.
How VR & AR are Shaping the Future?
There are many good reasons that companies are starting to invest in VR/AR technologies. Immersive experiences are now favored tools for amplifying learning and retaining information. The VR/AR technologies are proven to increase the level of engagement with audiences, whether it's educational or marketing. Those who use a VR/AR experience to complete a task are more involved than those who use traditional methods. This translates into higher conversion rates and better learning outcomes.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality training can also mitigate risk, whether it’s a life or death situation or the more mundane buyers’ remorse scenario. These technologies are dynamic tools that allow for mistakes without consequences. This translates into multiple ways for businesses to save money and time while avoiding costly mistakes.
VR/AR will create new paradigms of engagements across industries. Let’s look at a few ways in which VR/AR will shape the future of user engagement and have a profound impact on the ways the world functions in the areas of retail, travel, hospitality, research, education, pharma & healthcare, banking and finance, logistics, entertainment, etc, .
One of the many uses of VR/AR is providing enhanced immersive and captivating experiences to consumers in ways previously not possible. This higher and unique level of engagement will be of great benefit to marketing and retail sectors as well as customer education. Businesses are already investing in VR/AR technologies. According to Virtual Reality Brand Power Index, 75% of Forbes’ “World’s Most Valuable Brands” have created some form of Virtual or Augmented Reality experience. Some other potential future VR scenarios include virtual shops that recreate the experience of an actual store where the users can, walk the isles and select the items they wish to purchase..
An outdoor activewear company, offered participants a virtual opportunity to hike Yosemite National Park and Nepal through an immersive experience. People were able to experience the exhilaration of a trek, and that offered the motivation to buy the required equipment/gears like shoes, jackets, etc., they’d need for actual treks and hikes.
Within the real estate industry, virtual tours will become better, more interactive and more immersive by using VR, bringing in a greater level of convenience and speed to the home buying process. Buyers will be able to envision a house as a home, personalizing details through VR that allows them to change the layout, paint walls, add furniture, upgrade appliances, and so forth.
Education and Learning
Education and learning is another domain where virtual and augmented reality will thrive. Research has shown that VR and AR find a higher level of engagement with learners. A Cornell University study found that students “overwhelmingly favour the [VR] tool over more traditional methods.” Experiential learning has been argued as the most effective way to learn.
A report by Grand View Research predicts the VR healthcare market will grow to $5.1B by 2025.
Not only is VR an outstanding tool for training healthcare professionals on critical skills and procedures in a no-risk hologram environment, it is fast emerging as an effective rehabilitation technology as well. Virtual Reality environments are helping in the revival of basic motor skills, gait rehabilitation, and recovery from brain injury. Studies have shown that VR technology is effective to slow memory loss, and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. The Spanish National Research Council has succeeded in reducing the effects of Parkinson's in several patients by applying a treatment that uses VR.
Virtual Reality is used to train employees to handle high stakes situations in the corporate world like conflict management, giving performance feedback to employees, emergency situations, etc. For example, a global oil company used VR to train their employees on emergency procedures for their oil refinery.. The VR technology enabled the employees to “practice” the procedures multiple times in a safe environment thus reducing their probability of making an error in the incident of an actual emergency, possibly saving lives.
In another example of training, the U.S. military has long been using VR as a supplementary method of training. Some of these training applications include flight simulations for pilots, battlefield simulations, and response to injuries for medics.
For Children and Schools
AR is also becoming a go-to tool for learning for children as well as adults. AstroReality is an example of an educational AR project that has one of the most accurate models of the moon to date and is being used to spark the imaginations and interest in space for children.
VR and AR have been found to better employee productivity, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Augmented reality work allows workers to complete tasks more efficiently and with fewer errors.
Not only is Augmented Reality enhancing workplace efficiency, but The Harvard Business Review reported that AR has created optimism that industrial productivity will grow and that this will ultimately translate into higher wages.
The uses for VR and AR are varied across industries but overall these new technologies are used to help reduce risks, save costs, provide highly effective immersive learning experiences, and amplify retail customer experience. Cutting edge companies are ahead of the curve, exploring VR and AR to revolutionize their businesses.
Encora’s VR/AR solutions have been continuously impacting the performance of more than 300+ enterprises, governments, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations across the world. We have a highly-skilled team of professionals who excel in delivering customizable accessible VR/AR solutions. Get in touch to discuss how we can help your business tap into the potential of VR/AR!