5 business uses of virtual reality

Immersive VR technology is recognised for its business potential

Virtual Reality (VR) might have started life as a niche product in the gaming industry, but its benefits have now transferred into the wider business sphere. With VR, businesses can create true to life simulations in risk free, cost effective ways. The applications of VR and AR (Augmented Reality) are limited only by our own imaginations. Whilst the technology still has some way to go before it hits the mainstream, here are five important business applications for VR that are in use right now.

1) Training

Training is one of the most important applications of VR. In 2017, Walmart partnered with Virtual Reality creator Strivr, to prepare employees for its Black Friday sales. Immersing employees in a lifelike environment of long queues and crowds is the perfect way to prepare them for events which are not an everyday occurrence. It also removes the need to disturb normal business operations for training purposes. In a more individual example of VR training, Oculus VirtualSpeech helps users practice their public speaking skills in a simulated environment. Speakers can upload their presentation slides to the virtual room, experience distractions, and receive real time feedback on their delivery. In the medical sector, VR enables healthcare professionals to practice in a risk free environment that would be impossible in the real world. Oculus worked with the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) to train staff for high risk paediatric trauma cases.

2) Retail

Retail offers some of the most explicitly commercial applications of VR. In brick and mortar shops, VR heat mapping technology such as that from Yulio VR tracks a shopper’s gaze in store, providing a detailed pattern of which areas or products attract their attention. This enables retailers to test and refine their displays, signage and store layout to maximise consumer experience and spending. VR also enables shoppers to explore products in a life like way. In 2016 Ikea launched its Virtual Reality Kitchen Experience in Australia to help customers discover kitchen features and imagine how they would feel in their own home. According to a 2017 survey by L.E.K. Consulting, around 70 per cent of early tech adopters were eager to use AR and VR technology for shopping purposes. VR stores are never crowded, have highly attentive assistants, and facilitate a highly personalised shopping experience.

3) Construction

The use of Virtual Reality in construction has a host of benefits. VR platforms such as those provided by Iris VR enable architects to walk clients through their designs before they have been built, supplying vital opportunities for feedback and alteration. The ability to explore construction plans in 1:1 scale through VR also bridges the gap between the real world and a designer’s imagination – letting them visualise the full scale effect of their designs. Virtual Reality portfolios have also evolved as a way for architects to showcase their work to prospective clients. New technology makes it easy to turn paper plans into 3D computer models, and then into immersive VR simulations. Exploring building designs through VR helps potential clients to better understand an architect’s work.

4) Data visualisation

Data visualisation has come a long way since the days of the pie chart. Augmented and Virtual Reality make it possible to display data in 3D displays, which can then be interacted with in a dynamic manner. Founded in 2016, US company Virtualitics have created a virtual platform which merges Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Mixed Reality to offer detailed and engaging data visualisation techniques. In the Virtualitics platform, users view, analyse, and work collaboratively on their data in their own VR space. Such a customisable approach makes sure that data analytics fulfils the needs of individual businesses. The innovative presentation of data through VR is an important step in discovering insights into business operations and finding potential outliers which need to be addressed.

5) Manufacture

VR has an important role in the manufacturing industry due to its unique applications in the design and prototyping process. Manufacturers such as aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus use the technology to eliminate the need for expensive, full scale prototypes of their designs. Since 2007, Airbus has used VR technology RAMSIS (Realistic Anthropological Mathematical System) to simulate the interior design of cabins. With a particular focus on ergonomics, RAMSIS enables Airbus to maximise the space inside aircraft cabins and improve customer comfort, whilst at the same time monitoring factors such as ease of component maintenance and installation. In the small space of aircrafts, small changes can have large impacts. The immersive experience of VR helps manufacturers to take a comprehensive view on alterations, including important safety features such as the reachability of oxygen masks and life jackets.


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Sarah Finch
Research and Insights Manager

Sarah is renowned for her ability to communicate complex concepts with clarity. She plays a central role in managing the insights programme at Foundry4.

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