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Virtual Reality in Business: The State of the Technology
Virtual reality has been moving closer to prime time for the past few years. As the technology needed to enter immersive virtual worlds becomes more affordable and accessible, brands have been eagerly developing new use cases for VR content, in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business channels.
With a VR headset on, a viewer enters an immersive, three-dimensional world. This creates new possibilities for engaging, interactive and entertaining content. It also creates an important challenge for companies, requiring them to create content that looks and sounds good when viewers have the ability to turn around and look in different directions.
The past few years have seen a surge of interest in virtual reality solutions, as pandemic lockdowns increased the value of immersive technologies that let people interact and experience the world without leaving home. Now, with companies such as Meta and Microsoft throwing their development might behind immersive technology, it’s time for more companies to consider the possibilities of VR.
If your business hasn’t yet pondered the role VR content could play in your marketing, training or communication efforts, now may be the perfect time to start.
VR for Business: Latest Tech Developments
While VR isn’t a brand-new technology, it is undergoing rapid development. Constant breakthroughs involving the complexity of VR hardware and software are pushing virtual reality toward mainstream acceptance.
VR headsets expand in adoption
When it comes to VR service adoption, there is one extremely important statistic to monitor at all times — the amount of people who have VR headset hardware. Unlike augmented reality (AR), which can often involve a simple smartphone app, VR technology typically requires specialized hardware. The exception to this is simple devices that allow users to strap smartphones in front of their eyes to use as makeshift goggles.
Deloitte reported that spending on the hardware, software and other technology associated with VR and AR had reached $12 billion by 2020. Spurred by the need to cope with pandemic conditions, both companies and individual consumers stepped up and spent 50% more on immersive technology than in the previous year.
In the years to come, it will be important to keep an eye on whether the main purchasers of VR hardware and software come from the consumer or corporate worlds. If your company plans to use VR training, collaboration or corporate communication solutions, buying VR hardware for your employees will ensure they’re able to use that content. If you’re focusing on B2C VR content, you’ll need to make sure your target audience has a high rate of VR headset ownership.
The metaverse opens its doors
As VR technology adoption increases, major companies are pouring time, funding and effort into developing virtual metaverse spaces where users can interact. Since these immersive areas are bandwidth intensive, this development has come hand-in-hand with the spread of 5G connectivity.
FinTech reported that Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has made a public commitment to spending $10 billion on its own metaverse development, with 10,000 employees on the task. FinTech added that Walmart, H&M and Samsung have all started to sell goods in metaverse spaces, showing confidence that VR consumers are going online ready to spend.
What do these developments mean for your company? That depends on the type of VR content you plan on developing. If you’re interested in B2C content for the metaverse, the next few years may be crucial. If you’re thinking about an internal application such as VR training and are ready to make the investment in development, you can get started immediately.
How Are Different Industries Using VR for Business?
If you’re still wondering how to apply VR to your industry and business model, it can be instructive to look at what other companies have done with the technology. While some sectors are investing heavily in VR for internal roles such as employee education, others are crafting next-level customer experiences. In all cases, these early adopters are benefiting from the “wow factor” of deploying a fresh new technology.
The following are just a few of the most prominent business uses for VR technology thus far:
- Virtual showrooms for retail and ecommerce: A fully 3D environment is the perfect place for customers to try out products from the comfort of their homes. Retailers have started to embrace B2C VR content for this exact purpose. Training Industry specified that VR is especially useful when companies want to show off a whole selection of larger objects, such as vehicles. The virtual showroom can also include multimedia audio and video content alongside the 3D representations of the products.
- Immersive training for the employee education sector: Teaching employees how to complete dangerous or complex procedures can be a difficult process. A realistic VR experience can fundamentally alter the way training works. Forbes Human Resources Council’s Stephen Baer gave the examples of an experiential training provider teaching users to solder, as well as KFC using a fun gamified VR experience to train new cooks.
- Meetings and collaboration for corporations: Any business that needs large, remote teams to collaborate on projects can potentially use VR conference rooms to exchange data in new ways. Forbes Technology Council’s Sergei Vardomatski explained that in a VR conference room, colleagues can pull up a 3D simulation of whatever project they’re working on and view it from all sides, giving their input in real time for extra clarity.
- Doctor and patient experiences in health care: Medicine is one of the sectors with the most use cases for VR technology, with both B2B and B2C applications becoming more apparent in recent years. OpenGeeksLab cited a few exciting potential uses for VR systems, including as therapeutic tools for patients undergoing physical or mental rehabilitation, or children going in for pediatric visits. Doctors can also benefit from VR training, and the ability to view detailed anatomical models in 3D immersive environments.
- Virtual attendance for the conferences and meetings sector: Virtual events became the norm in the face of COVID-related shutdowns. During this period, the benefits of virtual meetings, including reduced travel time and expenses, became clear. BizBash predicts that event planners will be empowered by the rise of the metaverse — as VR interactions become more commonplace, virtual conferences will be free to become true representations of in-person gatherings, delivering greater immersion than 2D video chat can deliver.
From retailers creating new types of experiences to training providers creating exciting options for learners and beyond, VR headsets have uses across industries and company types. Organizations that experiment with this technology now aren’t just gaining access to these promising applications, they’re also getting ahead of the curve as VR adoption spreads.
What’s the Future of Business VR?
The future of VR is closely tied to other extended reality (XR) technologies such as AR. As companies of all kinds find more use cases for these immersive experiences, and as the necessary hardware and connectivity become more available, investment is set to rise.
PricewaterhouseCoopers made the bold prediction that the VR and AR sectors combined will add $1.5 trillion to the world’s gross domestic product by 2030. The PwC analysts stated that the wide variety of roles for XR technology, along with the potential productivity benefits available, are responsible for that massive valuation. In short, XR will soon be providing value for companies of all kinds around the world.
While the timelines for more ambitious VR projects like immersive, shared metaverses are still fluid, applications including VR training are already making an impact. To determine whether your business should delve into VR now or wait for the near future, you simply have to ask: Do I have a use case for this technology now?
If you do have a use case for VR content, actively producing high-tech, immersive material is the next step. For this process, you can team up with expert video content creation professionals. This option is especially appealing when dealing with XR content of any kind, because these industry insiders can bring the experience and technology needed to produce impressive 3D experiences with a “wow factor.”
Working with Experts for Business-Focused VR Experiences
Teaming up with experienced video production organizations is a shortcut to high-quality content creation, no matter how advanced the technology involved. These trained professionals make it a priority to stay up to date with the latest developments, so working with them allows you to have industry-leading VR and AR content, without adding salaries or purchasing expensive in-house equipment.
Partnering with Crews Control’s experienced content creators allows your business to access the studio facilities and cameras needed to produce 360-degree video and other VR content elements. Assembling a VR environment may involve digital modeling and immersive sound design in addition to 360 filming. Crews Control connects you with professionals who can offer these capabilities and more.
If your brand is better suited to AR than VR, a Crews Control partnership is still the best way to generate the advanced multimedia content you need. Getting started on either XR format now — while the technology is still young, is a way to sprint ahead of competitors and deliver immersive experiences that other brands can’t provide.
To learn more about XR experiences, download our ebook, and to get started on your own VR strategy, contact Crews Control now.