Virtual reality or VR can no longer be ignored as a way of the future. Forecasters predict the market will grow from $3.7 billion in 2016 to an incredible $30 billion by 2020. And its impact will go far beyond the realm of gaming.
VR is going to affect every industry and most people don’t know it yet—but it’s already happening. Here are some of the biggest changes so far and what we can expect in the near future.
Whether it’s police, energy or medical training, this industry is an early adopter of virtual reality. It only makes sense when you look at safety and cost-effectiveness. So, a lot of companies are using VR to reduce the risk and cost of training.
Like in the gas and oil industry, where participants are forced to train under dangerous circumstances at the offshore platforms (also known as oil rigs). Now, these companies can train people with VR simulation. This initial training prepares employees for emergency situations, so they’re better apt to react when they actually fly out to the rig for the first time.
Police departments are saving money and space with VR training by nixing the large fields that used to be dedicated for simulations. Now, they can do all of the training in a single room with a VR headset.
VR is also combating a huge issue in medical training — limited prosthetics. So, VR enables them to simulate real-life surgery for everyone to do it.
One of the most encouraging applications of VR is happening in the rehabilitation industry. Research shows that VR simulation can dramatically improve the speed of rehabilitation. Let’s say you broke your spine, and you were supposed to never walk again, but they do rehabilitation to see if you can with a VR headset. Rather than seeing legs that can’t control themselves, you’ll see legs that are doing what you want them to. As a result, your brain starts to reconnect the neuron networks because it thinks you’re walking.
The dramatic difference in results is inspiring more rehabilitation facilities, like a VA Hospital in Georgia, to include VR in their physical therapy.
Restaurants are also finding ways to leverage the growing VR industry. Some restaurants are offering immersive experiences while you enjoy your food. For example, you could put a VR headset on and feel like you’re on the coast of a Venice restaurant while you eat a delicious pasta dish.
In the future, restaurants will offer virtual walkthroughs so you can experience the atmosphere before you actually visit and other immersive integrations using apps like Yelp, where you can put on a headset, push a button and do a walkthrough of the restaurant before you go.
When it comes to retail, expect to see more virtual shopping malls. If you’re an outlet store, you can join this virtual shopping mall and have an entire store with items viewers can interact with.
The advantage is shoppers will have a realistic retail experience compared to online shopping. Users will be able to peruse items and actually try them on with an avatar—and still do it from the comfort of their homes.
Virtual reality is a natural partner to the entertainment industry so we can expect VR to mold and shape the experiences we’ve come to know and love—like the music concert. With a VR headset, someone can simply “hop on” and enjoy the same perspective as one of the concerts goers.
More platforms will start to offer premium content like this, so users can simply purchase a pay-per-view using their digital tokens. There are two incredible effects here: First, events will no longer be inhibited by the number of seats in the stadium because VR will provide unlimited attendance. Second, fans who can’t afford expensive tickets will have a more affordable option through the VR pay-per-view experience.
Leverage VR for your brand
If industries like training, rehabilitation, restaurant, retail and entertainment can benefit from virtual reality, there’s no reason why other brands can’t, too. Right now VR is a novelty that people want to try. So, to get ahead of the VR trend, brands can leverage VR to create a cool, fun attraction at their events. It’s not a long term thing once everyone has a VR headset, so the opportunity is now for brands to make an impact.
Bio: Dylan Senter is the CEO of Spectiv VR, a decentralized platform that enables users and organizations to stream their unique virtual reality experiences to the world. In addition, to his role at Spectiv VR, Dylan is currently a co-founder with Sensytec, a smart materials technology startup that has received over $3M in R&D funding to date. He is also an experienced e-commerce expert, operating his own Amazon storefront (SuperSenter) that generated >$500,000 in sales for 2016. His entrepreneurial achievements earned him honors and scholarship from the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2015. His specialties are in business development, marketing, and growth strategies.