VR game systems and headsets are still one of the most popular gifts, along with a lot of other high-tech gear. They have been for the past three years. As much fun as they are, more serious sectors of the economy have already found and continue to find uses for VR technology.
Consider just a few uses in education alone: field trips to museums and other places many children will never physically visit in their lifetimes, dissections of virtual animals in biology classes, human anatomy study, and virtual surgery in medical schools.
VR technology has also caught on in business sectors, as they work to give clients/customers realistic and stunning experiences with their products or services. Businesses that do not incorporate virtual reality will find their digital presence less attractive to their audiences – people who will go “where the action is.”
And there are a number of internal uses for virtual reality within organizations – providing solutions that, in the end, will be less costly and far more efficient.
So, let’s take a look at how businesses can incorporate VR technology for both internal use and as a marketing tool, right now and in the future.
VR Technology in Business
In a comprehensive study, the research firm Tractica predicts that the business spending on virtual reality will reach $9.2 billion by 2021, outpacing its use for entertainment and other leisure activities.
Internal Business Uses for VR Technology
Key uses for organizations currently fall within the categories of training, 3-dimensional modeling, and testing.
New employees need training; current employees need training for additional professional growth. VR can provide simulations of almost any situation for training purposes. Trainees and employees can immerse themselves in a variety of situations and demonstrate their mastery. Here are just a few examples:
- Pilot training: For years, there have been sophisticated flight simulators, at a cost of millions for suites the size of rooms. VR technology allows them to put on a headset and experience every type of flight situation, working through issues and crises until they have completed the full round of training and are ready to take to the skies.
- Customer service: Employees who are responsible for customer service can be presented with a host of interactions with customers and work through resolving issues and problems (role-playing scenarios) before they actually take to those interactions in real-world situations.
- Unskilled and skilled laborers: Employees who will be working on a factory line or in skilled positions (robotics, etc.) can be trained in their specific job tasks, without the need for human trainers. This saves time and expense. Further, they can be presented with a variety of safety situations and practice correct responses.
- Designs and Prototypes
Any business that is developing a product, no matter how large or small, can use VR technology to develop a prototype, put each element of that product into place, test its durability, safety, etc. under any condition. While there are some upfront costs, of course (tooling and platforming), over time these are paid for.
- Auto and plane manufacturers save millions by not having to construct working prototypes
- Construction materials can be tested against horrific weather conditions
- Furniture and other household items can be tested for durability
- Product designs can be put into the hands of virtual customers and then improved as those customers use them
- Architects and builders can put their clients in the virtual homes that have been built for them before the foundation is even poured. And the current focus on “green construction” can provide consumers with all of the possibilities of living in a “green home” through VR immersion.
The possibilities are limitless, and they will all save even small business owners` time and money.
- VR Technology and Marketing
VR has a “sister” of sorts – augmented reality. Both have become amazing marketing tools to allow potential customers to experience a product or service first-hand. Augmented reality allows a consumer to “view” something, even in real time, while still being “outside” of the situation/experience. Virtual reality places the consumer in the experience. Both are powerful marketing tools.
- Those planning vacations can take a virtual tour of a resort, city, etc. in real time. They can also place themselves in the environment and experience it first-hand.
- Consumers can try on glasses frames in their own homes, before going to the eye center for their exams and new glasses.
- Wine aficionados can scan a label with their smartphones and be taken through the process of how that wine was made, from the vineyards to the bottling.
- Clothing customers can try on items in a virtual environment before making a purchasing decision
- Consumers looking to update their homes can try a new paint color on their walls, can place furniture items in their homes, and try out flooring before they lay down their money.
Again, the potential is limitless. And every time a customer can have “real world” experience with a product or service, the more likely that customer is to find what he/she wants. Consider just the reduction in returns and exchanges that companies face when customers find that the product does not meet their expectations. That’s a huge cost savings of itself.
- VR Technology and Small Business Needs
Lots of small to mid-sized business owners see VR technology as beyond their reach. It is expensive to construct and implement. This is changing, though. An entire niche industry is now coming forward that can be called “VR-as-a-service.”
When a business owner wants to add VR experiences, he can contract with one of these services. Depending on the type of VR experiences businesses want to give customers, the price tag may not be horrible. And the costs for these services are continually declining, as the technology becomes easier to construct. Jay Lawson, director of marketing for the writing service Studyker says this: “We have long wanted to assist students in their writing by providing writing lab experiences. Always, we have had to do this with blog posts, showing examples of writing in need of correction. These are pretty boring. We are now exploring how we may be able to use VR technology to place students in a virtual writing lab. The potential is exciting.”
Is VR Technology the Total Answer?
No, of course not. Business owners can use VR technology to provide amazing experiences with their products or services, but there remains the need to provide creative and engaging product descriptions, to engage customers with words, and these do not show signs of declining. Along with AR and VR experiences, businesses must be mindful of the words they use in courting potential customers. There are a number of freelance and copywriting services that can provide this creative, journalistic copy – Be Graded, Upwork, Write Scout, Freelancer to name a few – because consumers can still be engaged through well-placed copy that drives them to those AR and VR experiences.
VR technology is here to stay. And it is transforming how businesses conduct operations, both within their organizations and with their audiences. Those who do not embrace this disruption will find themselves spending more than necessary for their internal training, design, and prototyping needs, and, worse, being outclassed by competitors who are giving consumers amazing augmented and virtual experiences. It’s time to explore the ways in which VR technology can take your business to new levels.
Author Bio: Angela Baker is a bit of a “renaissance woman.” She is a writer and a frequent contributor to a number of online companies and blogs – Top Essay Writing, Classy Essay, and Live Inspired Magazine, to name a few, but is also fully committed to learning about anything new and transformational. This has led her in many directions, all of which continue to inspire her and her readers. When she is not learning and writing, Angela is working with animal rescue organizations and playing the keyboard for an “Indie” band.