Virtual and augmented reality – not just about entertainment
More and more sectors are opening up to virtual and augmented reality.
The gaming industry has been an early adopter of virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) reality technology driven by the large user base and gamers' willingness to pay for an enhanced gaming experience.
Other fields of entertainment, including sports, are also exploring the idea of a VR-driven audience. The National Basketball Association (NBA) recently collaborated with Intel on a solution that allows a person wearing a VR headset to enjoy matches from a remote location.
More than entertainment
However, there is much more still to come in the field of VR and AR. The investment potential of this remarkable technology is high due to its many uses across sectors.
- Healthcare/medicine: Software providers create value by enabling remote assistance for surgeons, remote pre- and post-operative consultations for patients, VR-based phobia treatment, and surgery simulation. One pain point during medical procedures is that data is scattered across different monitors and documents. AR technology helps professionals to access all relevant information with an overlay of patient-specific information in the field of view.
- Education: VR simulations can be used when training with real equipment is expensive and risky (e.g. aerospace). The segment generated USD 116.7 million in revenues in 2017 and is expected to generate USD 2 billion by 2022 (source: Market Publishers).
- Prototyping: Industries that rely on expensive and time-consuming product prototyping, such as the automotive industry, can reduce costs through VR simulations
- Automotive industry: A number of car makers are using AR glasses in manufacturing to help workers assemble parts and provide instruction manuals during maintenance. AR also has the potential to revolutionize the car itself. Virtual objects can now be projected in high resolution directly onto the windshield to warn the driver of any dangers ahead.
- Logistics/operations: The additional contextual visual information that AR can provide such as instructions and navigation can dramatically improve warehouse operations and improve efficiency in logistic processes.
- Infrastructure: Sensors and drones can be used create virtual copies of large buildings or structures such as bridges and airports. The technology makes it possible to inspect the buildings for damage, to assess and document their condition, and, if necessary, to initiate maintenance and construction work.
- E-commerce and m-commerce: E-commerce and m-commerce are one of the larger segments benefiting from both VR- and AR-based applications. Retail firms are bringing the shopping experience to the next level with product visualizations in the consumer's environment. App-based virtual fitting rooms and contextual product information in stores could enhance marketing efforts.
- Travel: VR-compatible 360° videos will allow customers to immerse themselves in a holiday location and visualize a trip before booking. AR could make a tour more interactive with contextual information.
Entrepreneurs around the world have already wrapped their minds around VR and AR and therefore we can see new applications of the technologies in different sectors. We can expect more of them to appear in the market to enhance the user experience and improve the effectiveness of available services.