Curiosity and enthusiasm around the arrival of virtual reality to our houses is growing.
Many people tend to associate this technology to computer games or science fiction films and imagine it as something that is only useful for the entertainment industry. It is not exactly like that. In fact, it has been used in much more activity sectors. Though they may seem a lot, the examples below are just a small sample of what is already accomplished with virtual reality.
Architecture, Construction and Real Estate
Architecture offices use virtual reality as a design and marketing tool for their new projects. This allows that, even before the beginning of the construction, both builders and buyers see virtually what the project will look like when it is finished. The client may walk through his new house even before the first stone is laid, what offers the possibility to avoid changes after the beginning of the construction (extra costs avoided).
In the Real Estate business it is not difficult to find agencies that already use virtual reality visits to offer their clients a realistic vision of the house without having to physically go there. Not only do agencies offer a different service, but they also widen their market (anyone, anytime and anywhere in the world may pay a virtual visit to the house) and reduce their operational costs (making less visits to the properties they are selling).
- How this 150-year-old company uses virtual reality (Fortune)
- Now you can shop for luxury homes in virtual reality (Fortune)
It is expected that virtual reality will have a fascinating impact in art. It will probably be a really useful tool for artists. For example, a guitar player can play in a virtual guitar using electronic gloves while a painter can paint a picture using virtual ink and a sculptor can create a sculpture using virtual clay.
Static arts (pictures and sculptures) will be transformed in dynamic art allowing us to immerge in the piece of art and explore it as we want.
Teaching and training dangerous jobs
The building of flight simulators to teach and train pilots was one of the first activities to use this technology. The same happened later with space exploration companies that have to recreate zero gravity environments to train astronauts.
In the industrial area several companies train their collaborators using virtual environments that reproduce real situations from their jobs, which allows them not only to considerably reduce their training and travelling costs, but also substantially improve their results.
Virtual reality enthusiasts argue that students get more involved in the class when there is interaction and, from this point of view, this technology will undoubtedly bring new possibilities.
It will most certainly become an indispensable tool when it comes to teaching medicine students (already largely used in some universities). Though, in some cases, the use of cadavers may be unreplaceable, in a lot of others a virtual body may be enough. Students may explore the human body in a completely new way and, as the costs of technology decrease, the cost of learning and training will decrease, too.
- Virtual Reality Learns How to Get Into the Classroom (Wall Street Journal)
Engineers are using this technology to test projects of cars and planes before spending money on prototypes. Several automobile manufacturers use this technology to make collision tests, study the performance of the equipment and analyze the engineering methods used for building their vehicles.
Building virtual prototypes is a very common practice in car industry since it provides significant improvements in the time spent on developments, the costs associated with building prototypes (less physical prototypes are necessary, less human labour is used, less tools and materials are used to build the physical prototype) and the quality of the product.
In a word: With Virtual Reality it becomes easier, faster and cheaper to test several alternatives.
- Virtual driving test at BMW (IPG Automotive)
This is the sector most commonly associated to Virtual Reality, probably because the entertainment industry has been selling it to its customers since long time ago. But it is not only in console or computer games that this technology offers new entertainment experiences. The broadcasting of sports events using virtual reality is taking its first steps and the first experiences have already been made. Watching a football match as if we were on the stadium or virtually taking the driver´s seat in Daytona will certainly be hallucinating!
- FOX Sports & NextVR to broadcast live sports in VR (FOXNews)
- Fox Sports Races to Broadcast Daytona 500 in VR (Fortune)
- Experience Star Wars like never before (Starwars.com)
- All Access at a New York Fashion Week Show (Wall Street Journal)
- People try virtual reality porn (Buzzed)
The impact that virtual reality will have on journalism will certainly be huge and fascinating. Just imagine you are watching the news live from anywhere in the globe and you have the possibility to watch what is really happening, but in a 360º perspective. You press play, stop and rewind just to see it from different perspectives.
- Associated Press Just Launched a VR News Channel (Fortune)
Virtual reality environments are being used for teaching medicine students and training doctors for complex surgeries.
Several companies are developing virtual simulators to help doctors sharpen their diagnostic and surgery skills, as well as rehab practices. A very interesting example is the training of neurosurgery. Different scenarios are replicated so that doctors may, safely, train their skills in moving the surgery tools through the brain tissue. All this happens in a virtual environment.
- Study Finds VR Therapy Can Lower Patients’ Stress (NBCNews)
- Virtual reality app show you what it’s like to have a concussion (mashable)
NASA is developing a project that aims to recreate Mars in a virtual environment. This experience will allow everyone to explore the red planet with a VR headset.
- Nasa is building a Mars virtual reality experience (International Business Times)
Imagine you can see how those trousers fit you without having to try them on! With the coming of virtual reality to our houses we will eventually enjoy the possibility to try new clothes on or see how a piece of furniture looks like in the living room without leaving home.
Virtual reality gadgets available on the market offer users a 360º immersive experience that transports them to anywhere in the world. We can walk anywhere in the planet looking from every angle and listening to the local sounds. This will help us decide which place to visit and which street and hotel we want to stay in.
Also really interesting is the possibility of visiting places where it is physically impossible to get to as, for example, a sunken boat at the bottom of the sea. People want to get to where it is impossible to go and they are willing to pay for this kind of experience.
- How VR Is About to Transform the Travel Industry (Inc.)
The possibilities are endless and many opportunities are still to be found. So far, and while the market welcomes the new gadgets, it is time for us to think how we can use these tools to improve the way we work or how to use them to increase customer satisfaction. If we don´t do it we may be losing ground to our competitors.
Just remember, many billions have been invested in this technology in the last years, a clear sign that it has come to stay.