VR Technology Use Cases

Industrialisation 5.0 is upon us, and virtual reality (VR) is one of the key technologies shaping the future of the manufacturing industry. VR has truly become a necessary enterprise, with the space expected to grow from £641 million in 2018 to £4.4 billion in 2023. Previously VR was generally associated only with the gaming industry. Now it’s on fire with new opportunities for use. Although this innovative technology has been traditionally associated with the gaming industry, it is amazingly being applied in various fields to manipulate physical surroundings. VR allows its users to experience the real environment in more immersive ways. Here’s a list of industries that are already adopting VR and how this could impact the future of that industry.

VR Technology Use Cases
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Education

VR could revolutionise education by enabling students to learn in an immersive, experiential way. Unimersiv have apps that allow users to take a tour of Ancient Rome, explore the human brain, and board the Titanic. ImmersiveVREducation are building a VR classroom / meeting room space with their ‘Engage’ product, where people can learn from lecturers around the world. Engage application with students learning collaboratively inside a lecture room.

Due to its interactive nature, medical and dental students have begun using VR to practice surgeries and procedures, allowing for a consequence free learning environment; the risk of inflicting harm or making a mistake while practicing on real patients is eliminated. Virtual patients are used to allow students to develop skills which can later be applied in the real world. Using VR technology in the medical industry is an effective way to not only improve the quality of students in training but it also presents a great opportunity to optimise costs, especially since health services are continuously under pressure with tight budgets.

Healthcare

Healthcare in an important application where VR can have a significant impact. Healthcare professionals now use virtual models to prepare themselves for working on real bodies and VR has even been used as pain relief for burn injuries. As mentioned briefly before, VR technology has become a primary method for treating post-traumatic stress. Using VR exposure therapy, a person enters a re-enactment of a traumatic event in an attempt to come to terms with the event and heal. Likewise, it has also been used to treat anxiety, phobias and depression. For example, some patients with anxiety find meditating using VR to be an effective method to manage stress reactivity and boost coping mechanisms. Virtual reality technology can provide a safe environment for patients to come into contact with things they fear, whilst remaining in a controlled and safe environment. This is just one of the ways virtual reality can have a real positive impact on society.

Retail

The problem with online shopping is that we can’t try on the clothes we want before we buy them, which results in us buying two sizes and sending one back, or ordering one size and praying it fits your shape and size. This could soon change with body-scanning technology in VR, which would allow us to try on clothes in the virtual world to see what they would look like in person. Various companies are attempting to bring us the VR shopping experience, including the European retailer ASOS, who invested in software development company Trillenium, and it’s not just fashion getting a makeover. Last year, eBay launched 'the world’s first virtual reality department store' in partnership with Australian retailer Myer. Is this the future of shopping?

Tourism and Recreation

Imagine being able to try your holiday before you buy it. That’s exactly what the future could hold. The industry is taking the first steps to enabling you to go on guided virtual tours of hotels, restaurants and tourist landmarks. Thomas Cook launched their 'Try Before You Fly' VR experience in 2015, where potential holidaymakers visit stores in various countries to experience the holiday in VR before booking it. There was a 190% uplift in New York excursions bookings after people tried the five minutes version of the holiday in VR. Google Expeditions is another way tourism can become more accessible. Users can travel the world from the comfort of their own home, allowing people of all ages and backgrounds to explore coral reefs or the surface of Mars. Many real-life hobbies are available in VR, and the immersive experience makes them all the more enjoyable and accessible. If you’re a fan of cultural activities, you can visit museums such as the Natural History Museum in London or, if you’re more of a thrill-seeker, there’s even a VR theme park opening in China. One of the more unique ways VR is being used is by Galatea, who provide a writing and narrative design management tool for immersive storytelling.

Law Enforcement

As with the military, police forces are using AR and VR tools from companies like VirTra to train personnel in simulated scenarios complete with visual, auditory, and physical stimuli (ranging from barking dogs and street noise to the recoil of discharging a weapon). The technologies even enable police forces to escalate or de-escalate trainees’ simulated interactions with individuals inside the virtual training environments, helping learners practice making judgment calls and critical decisions under stress.

The military in the UK and the US have both adopted the use of virtual reality in their training as it allows them to undertake a huge range of simulations. VR is used in all branches of service: the army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard. In a world where technology is adopted from an early age and children are accustomed to video games and computers, VR proves an effect method of training. 

Law Enforcement
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VR can transport a trainee into a number of different situations, places and environments for a range of training purposes. The military uses it for flight simulations, battlefield simulations, medic training, vehicle simulation and virtual boot camp, among other things. VR is a completely immersive, visual and sound-based experience, which can safely replicate dangerous training situations to prepare and train soldiers, without putting them at risk until they are ready for combat. Likewise, it can also be used to teach soldiers some softer skills, including communication with local civilians or international counterparts when out in the field. Another of its uses includes treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for soldiers who have returned from combat and need help adjusting to normal life situations; this is known as Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET). A key benefit for using virtual reality technology in the military is the reduction in costs for training.

Architecture and Real Estate

VR is gradually changing the way that architects design and experiment with their work. VR makes it possible to see not just what a building or space will look like but how it will feel. For home-owners, they can experience the space before it is physically built and make real-time changes, which saves the customer and the architect time and money (as well as increasing satisfaction on completion of the project). Architects have been using 3D models for years but using immersive tools such as Iris VR allows them to understand and explore the space at the deepest level possible. With Virtual Rality (VR), you can look round properties from the comfort of your dream home - no estate agent or sacrificing your weekend needed. This allows people to explore houses online and then only view the ones you’re most likely to love in person. Matterport are leading the way and have already scanned thousands of homes using their scanning hardware.

Learning and Development

The L&D market is beginning to open up to VR, with companies such as VirtualSpeech providing VR training for soft skills. They combine VR apps with Web VR and work with companies to integrate their corporate training into current LMS. This makes training more accessible, cheaper, and increases learning retention levels.

Recruitment

Lloyds Banking Group have introduced a VR exercise to assess graduates for its 2017 intake. In the future, virtual environments could replace assessment days and interviews themselves, saving on cost and time for both the employer and the potential employee.

Entertainment

VR is being used in the entertainment industry to heighten experiences with 360 films (Examples on YouTube) and increase your emotional connection with them and/or the characters. Disney Movies VR, for example, takes the user to red carpet events and to an interview with ‘The Jungle Book’ cast. VR could also revolutionise the way that media content is made. Flipside is now the fastest way to make shows that can be viewed through traditional channels like YouTube, Twitch, or Facebook live and inside virtual reality itself.

Automotive Industry

VR allows engineers and designers to experiment easily with the look and build of a vehicle before commissioning expensive prototypes. Brands such as BMW and Jaguar Land Rover already use VR to hold early design and engineering reviews to check the visual design and object obscuration of the vehicle - all before any money has been spent on physically manufacturing the parts. VR is saving the automotive industry millions by reducing the number of prototypes built per vehicle line.

Sports

The way that we watch sports is already changing, with several VR companies specialising in watching live sports events. For example, you can watch the NBA, NFL, and other events in VR. Companies such as LiveLikeVR enable broadcasters and sports teams to deliver live sports viewing experiences on mobile VR. This is a great way of opening up live sports events to people who can’t travel to the venue or can’t afford tickets to watch the sports in person.

BT Sport broadcasted the UEFA Champions League final in 360 degree VR via YouTube and the BT VR app, all for free. You could watch the game from several locations in the stadium, as if you were actually there. Initiatives like this will help change the way sports are watched.

Art and Design

With VR, you don’t just create life-size artwork - you can be in it. You can actually step into your image and come out the other side. The most well-known application for creating art in VR is Tiltbrush and it’s amazing what some people have managed to paint in it. You can also make virtual 3D models and sculptures with MasterpieceVR.

Events and Conferences

Since VR enables individuals to be places virtually, it provides an avenue for organizers to welcome more individuals into in-person events. For example, Paul McCartney released a 360-degree concert recording through a virtual reality app linked to the inexpensive Google Cardboard headset.

VR can be used in a similar way to enable virtual conference attendance, but event-industry stakeholders are also using it to drive collective experiences among in-person audiences. An example of this was at the Mobile World Congress 2016, when conference attendees wore VR headsets as they attended the launching ceremony of the new Samsung S7 and S7 edge smartphones.

Marketing

Marketing is becoming more and more about how companies make customers feel so using VR is a natural extension. Coca-Cola was one of the first companies to try out virtual experiences in their marketing when they transformed their Christmas advert into VR in Poland.

It’s also becoming popular for universities to create virtual campus tours of universities. Princeton, Yale and Columbia have all tried this out as a way of more students to be able to see their campus.

News and Journalism

You can now watch news stories and documentaries in VR. The New York Times has already entered this space, and it’s only a matter of time before other media outlets join them. In the NYTVR app, you can experience stories rather than just listen to them, as if you were standing opposite the journalist where the story is happening.
VR is likely to influence your workplace, hobbies and social life in the future - and that’s sooner than you may think. The possibilities of VR are endless.