Despite what you may have heard from naysayers, Virtual Reality (VR) is not dead.
VR is probably best known as an enhancement to our entertainment experience with gaming, but it’s also been available at the enterprise level for military combat training for quite some time now.
VR has found its place in medicine, training, education, and now businesses are champing at the bit to get on board. So how would VR make sense for business?
I’m glad you asked.
For starters, millions could be saved on building full-scale working prototypes. In manufacturing and production-driven businesses, VR allows every characteristic of a part, process, or mechanism to be simulated and tested.
This same idea can be applied for on-the-job training purposes as well. KFC has already begun training their employees in some locations how to properly cook chicken, allowing the company to save time and money on materials that would be tossed otherwise due to burning or contamination.
We’ve also recently covered how retailers such as Wal-Mart are utilizing the VR tech for real-life scenario situational training. Angry customer, spill in aisle four, and a line of customers on register five?
Much less stress on an employee for having to deal with this type of on the job demand in a real life situation in which actual customers are also being affected, and much more effective than awkward role-playing with your manager and co-workers what could potentially happen.
I mean, can we say Black Friday? That beast is still alive and well.
This type of situational training also opens the floodgates for a wealth of data on customer interaction and behavior when acting out simulations in a digital world.
Aside from training, the “try before you buy” method is becoming increasingly more prevalent, especially considering a broader range of audiences can be met if they’re able to try something out without having to leave to a different state, different city, or even the convenience of their own home.
Airlines, car manufacturers, travel markets are looking into the ability to give customers a sneak peek at their offerings, immersing someone more than say, looking at a picture of a tricked out car or watching a commercial.
Lowes and IKEA have also begun showcasing digital showrooms to allow customers to customize a kitchen or to conceptualize a home renovation. Imagine being able to tap cabinets in a virtual world to change the color or the style, swap out a sink, or to even take the mockups home? This gives customers a much better idea of what they want and encourages them to further explore their options.
For real estate, companies like Altoura are already developing immersive apps to give potential buyers a stronger first impression in order to generate more leads and sales. In some locations, The Marriott offers a “VRoom Service” allowing guests a virtual experience in their hotels in other parts of the country.
Are we really traveling when inside a virtual world if it looks and feels like we’re in Chile? Does it matter if we’re not really there or not, and is there a market for it? I’m sure some people would love to see the world without ever stepping foot on a plane, like my dad, for instance.
VR is still in its infancy in regards to development and we’ve got a long way to go before it feels like we’re totally immersed in another world via Ready Player One style, but businesses are already recognizing the benefits that come with investing in VR beyond publicity stunts. Luckily, VR tech is evolving and the consumer market for the tech is becoming more commonplace and less of a gimmick.