12 Industries to Reap the Benefits of VR (that aren’t gaming)
When someone mentions VR (virtual reality), gaming is the first thing that comes to most people’s minds. It makes sense! After all, gamers are most in need of an immersive experience, and game developers are kings of creating huge, immersive, amazing worlds (hello Zelda, Final Fantasy, Warcraft, Witcher, and countless others). Besides, who wouldn’t want to watch their significant other terrified out of their freaking mind, running away from virtual zombies?
Gamers, however, aren’t the biggest PC buyers, and they won’t be the biggest VR buyers, either.
The PC has a lot more to offer than just games, and the same can be said for VR. Below you’ll find 12 industries that will reap the benefits of mobile VR, that aren’t gaming. In all honesty, the only thing that’s limiting this potent technology is our own imagination, so don’t be surprised if VR finds its way into industries we haven’t mentioned here, as well! Perhaps you’ll find your own industry along these lines, inspiring you to create something new for your audience, as well. Or maybe you won’t find it, which will again inspire you to find a way and use the new technology. Either way, we hope this piece will inspire you to do great new things.
Here we go:
VR entertainment is much more than ‘just’ gaming. Users will be able to go into a virtual theater, or even – be a part of a movie itself! With VR, they will be able to teleport themselves to sports games and watch them live, even though you won’t move outside your living room. Check this out – Coldplay is about to release its first VR concert that you’ll be able to ‘attend’, and Cirque du Soleil is also doing a similar thing. Bedtime stories will get a complete makeover, and we don’t even have to mention adult content.
Exotic places have always been popular tourist destinations. Maui, Mauritania, Majorca, Malabu, Malibu, are all fairly popular tourist attractions. Another exotic location starting with the letter M is (and you’ll never guess this one) – Marriott.
A hotel chain doesn’t really sound that exotic, but once you hear their VR project, you’ll probably change your mind. The Marriott Travel Brilliantly program uses the Oculus Rift to ‘teleport’ people to various locations around the world. The project, that’s actually been live since late 2014, is the best example of how VR will transform tourism. Fully immersive experiences can be used for different things. For example, it can be used to ‘try’ a location before deciding to go there, or it can be a ‘mini’ vacation version, for those not really interested in flying around the globe.
It’s one thing to use VR to learn about the human body and how it can be cured. It’s a completely different thing to use VR to actually *SEE* (yes, you read that right) a person’s insides, get a much better, clearer picture of the problem. It’s easy to see, right from the get-go, how this technology has the potential to save lives. For example, there’s this company called EchoPixel which, according to Motherboard, created the True 3D system:
“It uses DICOM data, the same format used by every MRI scan, CT scan, or ultrasound image. With that data, EchoPixel renders interactive, 3D virtual objects that can allow individuals to explore, dissect and share.”
Currently available machines scan the patient, and the data is used by the system to create virtual reality, 3D images. Being able to see internal organs and other parts of the body in full three dimensions, without surgery, opens up a world of opportunities for better diagnostics and treatment. Non-invasive treatment methods are considered better in many cases, and with this technology, humans have added another way to achieve it.
NASA is already using VR to prepare its astronauts for the journey to Mars, and that’s probably one of the most sci-fi uses for the technology, so far. Called The Mars 2030 Experience, the VR technology is being used by NASA experts to prepare the astronauts for “every conceivable contingency”. The crazy thing is, it will be available for Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, Samsung VR Gear, iTunes and Google Play, for free. Experience is always the greatest teacher, but in life-or-death situations (like, during interplanetary travel), lack of experience usually means loss of life. And there’s no faster way for a project to be abandoned than if someone dies trying.
If NASA is to succeed sending humans to Mars and other planets beyond Earth, the loss of human life in the process needs to be minimized and VR can help tremendously, giving astronauts invaluable experience. It’s literally helping us become interplanetary species. Literally.
We currently know a few ways VR can be used for education, but there will most likely be more in the coming years. Besides educating future doctors, a topic we briefly touched on earlier in the article, there’s also this cool little project, called It Can Wait, which uses VR to teach people the dangers of distracted driving. Then there’s the virtual tour of Louvre, British Museum in London’s Virtual Reality Weekend, and the American Museum of Natural History joined forces with Google to launch VR visits.One of virtual reality’s biggest benefits will be teaching humans different things, from behaving in traffic, to behaving in space. Sending people to places they could not go otherwise, offering them knowledge and experience, is probably the best way to educate humans, and virtual reality is making it – a reality.
Interacting with an ‘idea’ can be mind-boggling, but that’s exactly what VR in manufacturing can do. Before actually creating something, virtual reality will allow manufacturers to build a digital counterpart and then test it. Testing ideas result in better products, faster and cheaper. Take Ford, for example. Ford uses virtual reality to design cars. With VR, it is able to properly test various features, both in the interior and the exterior, and make sure the driving experience is as good as it can possibly be. And that’s just one example of how VR can be used to improve manufacturing. A ‘side-effect’ of the new technology is that Ford is now seeing a 70 percent decrease in employee injuries.
Architecture and modelling
Designer and visualizer Olivier Demangel summed up the emerging importance of VR in architecture and modelling in a simple sentence: Virtual reality will be “more powerful than cocaine”. So, for a brief moment, let’s ignore the assumption that every architect out there is high out of his mind on cocaine, and focus on VR, instead. It’s going to redefine the industry. Demangel says there won’t be an architect soon that won’t use VR goggles, and in five years, it is expected to be as convincing as the real thing. For example, architecture firm NBBJ is already collaborating with a start-up called Visual Vocal. The two are building a VR platform for architects. Soon enough, people will be able to walk through their new living room long before it’s even built.
Currently, bringing a crime scene to the courtroom means creating a bunch of photos and videos, collecting evidence and then recreating it all digitally – sometimes in 3D, sometimes not. But at the end of the day, no one can be 100 percent sure if the reconstruction was spot on, or if it will help the judge, or the jury, to form a clear picture of what really happened. Virtual reality has the ability to change that. In the near future, jurors will be able to explore the crime scene as it appeared, removing all doubt how the scene looked upon law enforcement’s arrival, or where the evidence was actually found.
It’s safe to assume that the shopping experience will be flipped on its head in the coming months and years, all thanks to virtual reality. There will, literally, be no stores you won’t be able to “visit”, especially large(r) retail chains. For example, Chinese superstore Alibaba recently introduced Buy+, a virtual reality app which allows users to ‘teleport’ to some of the world’s biggest stores, like the ones located on New York City’s Times Square.
The views on using VR in retail are diametrically opposed. While some think it’s fun, others think it’s strange and lonely, dystopian even. The only thing that’s certain is that it’s not going to replace all the shopping channels available today – it’s just going to add to them. This new layer will most definitely be different and unique, making the shopping experience even more engaging and immersive.
Similar to what NASA is doing with astronauts, the military is doing with its personnel. On the ground experience can help a soldier remain calm in situations of extreme stress, and that that can mean the difference between life and death. Already, all three military services, army, navy and the air force, are using VR to train soldiers. Mostly, VR is being used to recreate combat, or other similarly dangerous situations, and help soldiers learn how to behave. All of the action, all of the excitement, all of the stress – no deaths, or injuries.
A number of abovementioned industries could also be considered art, including architecture, entertainment, tourism or, at the end of the day, gaming. However, some forms of art can’t be placed in those categories, but are still worthy of mention. Different artists, including painters and sculptors, are using the VR headset as a gateway to the digital world, where they’re able to express themselves in inconceivable ways. They can literally draw with fire. Create amazing new creatures, bring them to ‘life’, and interact with them. Art exhibits, especially paintings and sculptures, will never be the same again.
Google is one of the companies making it possible. Last May, it released Tilt Brush, a VR application which allows users to draw in three dimensions, in a virtual reality, using materials and methods beyond imagination – like fire, for example. Virtual reality is on course to redefine art, too!
‘Human’ interaction / Dating
At first, we were thinking of just focusing on dating, but after a bit of brainstorming, decided to expand it to the entirety of human interaction. There is already much talk of virtual boardrooms and virtual meetings. Add in the possibility of virtual dating, going to virtual theatres or movies together, virtual sports events, or concerts, and what you get is a fundamental change to what is considered ‘social’. Human interaction, dating included, is about to be transformed. Why take your significant other out to Domino’s Pizza, when you could go for a stroll along the Cote d’Azur?
Whenever virtual reality is mentioned, words like ‘redefining’, ‘fundamental change’, ‘tectonic movement’, ‘reshaping’ get thrown around. But where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be a fire. Professionals, thinkers and opinion makers from a multitude of different industries are looking at the VR headset as something extraordinary, revolutionary, something that can change how users experience their industry completely.
The best part is that for the most part, the hardware necessary to employ VR is in everyone’s pocket. Modern smartphones are being built to handle VR, and they’re doing it quite well. The infrastructure is already there, all it takes is a little sprinkle of ingenuity to make it happen.
Gaming might be the first thing that comes to mind when VR is mentioned, but should definitely not be the only one. Other industries, including retail, manufacturing, tourism and education will benefit greatly from this new technology, and probably in ways we can’t even imagine at this point in time.