Recently Medical Realities, a company that uses VR and augmented reality to train medical professionals, made headlines with its live telecast. Streaming an operation performed on a cancer patient, the broadcast scored over 54,000 views worldwide, with audiences from China to the Netherlands1.
Although some business experts express doubt that VR will be anything more than a passing trend2, the way VR is making waves and transforming industries says otherwise.
In addition, with Silicon Valley giants like Facebook, Google and Apple not only backing the movement but joining the bandwagon3, it’s safe to say VR has a promising future. Some expect its market worth to reach $150 billion by 2020.
Here’s how your industry can harness this technology to get ahead of the curve:
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Medical Realities is not alone in implementing VR. Healthcare professionals worldwide are working towards creating accurate CAT scans and ultrasound images for more in-depth insight into their patients4.
VR is also revolutionising the architecture and construction fields. Now with their renderings fully realised in 360° projections, architects and designers can better visualise potential problem areas in their designs. As Entrepreneur’s Neil Petch explains, “rather than spending time and money building prototype after prototype, manufacturers and designers can create one in a virtual reality environment and make adjustments in a fraction of the time”. This is essential for small businesses, for whom time and finances are especially tight.
Another industry capitalising on the highly engaging content that VR generates is the gaming industry. Sony’s Playstation is leading the VR console gaming trend with captivating interactive games, and many others aim to soon follow. And it’s not just the major players that can tap into this thriving trend.
With advanced technology at their fingertips, SMEs can render intricately detailed designs and tailor-make VR experiences through solutions like Autodesk’s Stingray. Indie game developers Arrowhead Studios turned to Stingray for a cost-effective way to realise their game ideas, the software’s flexibility letting them build a new gaming world from ground up. The game they created, “Helldivers”, has since been nominated for “Best Action” in the 2016 D.I.C.E Awards. Sample the sophisticated software with this free trial.
In the retail industry, Alibaba’s BUY+ online store brings a touch of the brick and mortar back to e-commerce. The initiative immerses customers in a 360° shopping environment, allowing them to view details of each product in real time, and even showcasing virtual clothes and accessories on models.
The platform gives consumers a chance to view and interact with their items like they would in a physical store, but in the convenience of their homes. This new way of shopping could prove highly profitable in future. As the CEO of VR content creation site YouVisit summarises:
Picture presenting your design model to clients in real time, so they get the complete picture. Imagine connecting with clients on a more intimate note, with technology that fosters personal interaction.
The future of meetings and communication might just be in VR. An international survey by the Wall Street Journal discovered that 57% of those surveyed prefer face-to-face conversations with colleagues, making VR a more appealing option than traditional videoconferencing6. “In the context of office meetings you now have a whole virtual environment where you can co-create and interact,” says Mike Harlick, head of the Bank of Ireland Worklab.
Virtual meetings and live-streamed medical procedures are just the beginning. Although adoption rates for VR are expected to be relatively slow, SMEs should prepare for larger-scale adoption in the long run to improve business efficiency.