Whenever we hear about virtual reality, an image of a headset sitting on top of a gamer, holding controllers awkwardly in front usually comes to mind. Yet as the world of VR continues evolving, the traditional conception of virtual reality is thankfully coming to an end. Virtual reality has been on the minds of society for quite some time but just recently people are becoming aware of the real world benefits it brings to society, especially now in the time of Covid-19.
As the pandemic hit, forced isolations and strict quarantines became the norm for countries all over the world. It seemed as if the world came to a grinding halt. Many institutions and companies were eager to find out a way around the pandemic. Luckily, the tech industry came to the rescue offering numerous solutions for remote communication and work with VR being a main player. Over the months, remote interaction has slowly become the new normal for almost every sector.
Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality all fall within the umbrella term XR (extended reality). The XR industry is expected to reach a market size of $200 billion by 2022. The numbers indicate that XR is not only just a branding gimmick and has proven to be much more valuable for businesses than most people thought. For instance, airline and automobile companies such as Boeing, Tesla, Ford, and Peugeot, have built in house VR centers to design and test full-scale prototypes. This allows them to highlight potential design errors before the designs reach the manufacturing floor. This helps in cutting costs, reducing factory time, and increasing coordination among everyone involved in the manufacturing process. Furthermore, it facilitates a more cost-effective experience to check the components' efficiency in the designing process before starting the manufacturing process.
According to Forbes magazine, enterprises are currently adapting to XR twice as fast. as the business trend initially projected. This possibly could be due to the 2020 pandemic and the need to social distance shifting business into a remote working structure. One of the biggest examples is Facebook. In recent times, Facebook is making more opportunities for their employees to work remotely and train with VR.
Training employees with various specialized skills can be very costly and can take a lot of the time that is better spent elsewhere on the business if given the opportunity. And on a dangerous work environment, training unskilled workers can be very risky.
Virtual reality takes risky, cost, and time consumption out of the equation with the opportunity to remotely train employees for gaining new skills for the workforce.
VR provides cutting-edge experiences for companies...which redefine the nine-to-five, with measurable impact on performance and job satisfaction through better meetings, effective training, and meaningful collaboration. All of this leads to better outcomes for businesses, workers, and customer" https://tech.fb.com/the-future-of-work-and-the-next-computing-platform/
NASA has been using VR software and tools for years now, particularly for training situations. They have used VR to improve astronauts' quality of life and mental health on long-duration space-flights. For over a decade, scientists at Harvard, Dartmouth, and other institutions have been working on the Virtual Space Station project that aims to provide interactive behavioral health training and treatment programs to astronauts when they're far away from Earth. Dartmouth's Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation (DALI) lab has received a staggering US$1.6 million grant from NASA to build out VR components of the project.
Travel and Tourism
The harshest blow taken during this pandemic is by the tourism and travel industry. And people being unable to travel are missing out on the calming and lifting experience of walking through a rain forest or meeting up with their loved ones on an exotic island.
Virtual reality offers the chance for everyone to simulate the experience they would get while going out of their house, meeting up their friends and family on a tour, or the gentle ride up on the mountains but only putting a headset on.
Many companies are using this opportunity to provide their potential customers a chance to see what they are likely to experience on the tour by using VR.
Events and conferences
We all know communication is the key when it comes to conferences. And due to this pandemic, many events and conferences faced a cancelation or postponement.
But to everyone’s surprise, some of the events and conferences were still able to go forward by tapping into the opportunities of virtual reality.
The biggest example of that would be the Virtual VIVE Ecosystem Conference. This conference was declared by HTC and the whole conference took place in virtual reality. And more than 1 million people viewed the conference remote at their home with the aid of VR.
With the pandemic, many universities are currently opting for remote classes to keep their students and employees safe. But this stops the opportunity for freshers to get a chance to tour around their campus and choosing where they want to go to study.
But many companies are providing services targeted towards students by offering virtual tours of some of the major colleges in the United States. This provides the student the opportunity to feel the environment they are going to spend their most precious 4 years of student life.
Healthcare is another important application that has benefitted from VR technology. Healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and surgeons, now use virtual models to train themselves for life-threatening tasks. Moreover, the technology creates a customized virtual world for them to practice and improve their skills. VR has also been used as a pain relief for burn injuries.
Consequently, VR technology has been used as a potential treatment option for mental health illnesses. For instance, Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) is considered to be particularly effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTDS), phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). There are several other therapeutic benefits of using VR technology.
With the growing popularity of meditation and wellness, it's not surprising to find VR applications that enable people to engross themselves in a meditative space. For example, Guided Meditation VR is one of the most popular meditation apps that envelop a user in stunning 360 images while listening to calming music and guided meditation. Additionally, a cosmetologist in the UK is using VR technology for pain relief during injectable treatments.
The future of Communication with VR
Humans are social creatures. And to live and excel with a healthy living experience, we need to form communication with others. In this isolated period, the importance of communications and connection with others is much more appreciated and understood. And VR is proving to be a great tool to interact with one another remotely.
VR technology is undoubtedly going to transform and revolutionize businesses in the coming years. The global VR market is expected to expand from US$ 6.1 billion in 2020 to US$ 20.9 billion by 2025. More than 20% of all tech giants have invested in VR, and this number will continue to increase as it becomes more popular.
VR technology has gained widespread recognition and adoption in the gaming industry in the last few years, but the technology is no longer limited to a single domain or vertical. The technology has taken other industries, such as STEM, healthcare, marketing, real estate, business, and art by storm.
Many businesses were uncertain in the past, considering the high cost of VR devices. Now, with a plethora of choices available at affordable costs, businesses are looking forward to entering the market. As the number of people using VR headsets and other applications will increase, there will be more lucrative opportunities for industries to incorporate them into their business and reap the benefits.