Virtual Reality Transforms the Business Landscape
September 21, 2017
What industries are most poised for digital disruption? How is virtual reality (VR) transforming business ranging from healthcare to entertainment? Find the answers to these trending tech questions in the revealing survey results we’ve gathered.
Digital innovation is one of the most important driving factors of our country’s economy, and it has a significant role in evolving the workplace. Its impact on industrial process alone has changed the way most manufacturers do business. Technological innovation has encouraged significant increases in operational efficiencies, production volumes, communication, revenue and workforce safety.
Which industries are most poised for digital disruption? We asked 150 technologists in our 2017 Technology and the Human Condition survey to weigh in on where they see the most opportunity for innovation.
VR’S IMPACT ON THE WORKPLACE
Once considered relevant only to the gaming industry, VR now boasts use cases among a wide array of industries with potential for significant financial growth. According to the International Data Corporation, augmented reality (AR) and VR will have a $162 billion impact on sales across all industries by 2020. Especially in healthcare, industrial, and defense applications, VR can reduce safety risks for workers and decrease insurance premiums at worksites where there is a high level of personal danger.
When VR is used in combination with robots, technology allows companies to reduce human vulnerability, therefore reducing hazard pay costs. Consider hospital workers who care for Ebola patients or radioactive cleanup workers at disaster sites like Fukushima.
With VR, we can perform tasks remotely, opening doors to solving problems virtually anywhere in the world with little human risk. We can still be the eyes and ears that oversee the application of technology without needing to be physically present.
When we asked surveyed respondents what other industries VR will most likely impact next in a large way, they highlighted Entertainment, Training & Education and Healthcare.
VR IN ENTERTAINMENT
“People are already used to watching movies and playing video games, but imagine a world where you can fully visualize a game or be a part of a movie as it happens.” – Survey Respondent
Because of the immersive nature of VR, the gaming industry embraced the technology early on and has driven most of the category’s forward movement. While Sega may have launched the first consumer 3D gaming headset in the 1980s, it wasn’t until Oculus Rift hit the market that VR began to gain traction. The once primitive user experience has benefitted from improvements in video, animations and developer tools. Now that Facebook owns Oculus, the company has the financial support and backing to continue innovating on its core technology.
There are almost 56 million gamers using VR today and in 2016, gaming generated more than $5 billion from VR. Asia is driving user adoption, and the cost-effective Google Cardboard dominates device installs. For now, because the current audience skews younger, there is a high drop-off rate for early adopters looking for a more affordable option. As the technology becomes more appealing to older demographics with more spending power, VR will further expand.
VR IN TRAINING & EDUCATION
“Training simulation for military, police, medical personnel… the list of applications goes on. I doubt we’ll see substantial improvements in virtual reality until the military widely adopts it.” – David Mays, software engineer, stable|kernel
VR is actively used by the U.S. military for training purposes, especially for reaction techniques for use during combat and other life-threatening situations. VR applications allow servicemen and women to simulate events in a controlled environment. Some of the exercises currently leveraging VR include battlefield simulations, battlefield medic training, flight simulations, virtual boot camps and vehicle training.
Flight simulators are significantly utilized because of the high cost to use real aircraft for airborne training. The military has saved thousands of dollars by using technology that reduces the number of personnel and equipment needed to run training exercises.
In education, VR is bringing otherwise intangible educational experiences into the classroom. Imagine placing a student in the center of a battlefield during World War II or letting them experience what it would be like to stand in front of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. One survey respondent puts it, “seeing and experiencing ‘the real thing’ helps our brain to understand and learn faster and more efficiently. It can also extend the budgets of schools that can’t provide many out-of-classroom experiences.”
VR IN HEALTHCARE
The healthcare industry has always been at the forefront of technological innovation. Consider how teleworking today allows doctors in one part of the world to diagnose and treat patients in a different country. Remote patient-monitoring gives medical professionals a greater ability to improve patient outcomes, provide greater access to medical care and reduce associated costs.
VR is now spreading into the healthcare space, and its use is predicted to increase significantly in the next few years. Research firm IndustryARC predicts the healthcare industry will continue to explore AR and VR, especially for outpatient and clinical care and training simulations and will generate more than $2.5 billion in revenue by 2020.
Mental health professionals have used AR and VR for more than a decade to immerse patients in realities where they can confront fear and trauma in a safe, controlled environment. In many cases, VR therapy is replacing drug therapy to treat PTSD patients, especially former soldiers and war veterans. Thanks to military funding, ample study results show the benefit of VR to provide safer, more effective patient outcomes.
The information we gathered from mobile technologists proves that VR and AR are still in their infancy. These technologies are opening up a world of potential and opportunity for business, human development and economic growth alike. To gain more insight into the world of mobile technology, visit our survey report! Sound off in the comments below if you feel differently about the impact of VR on the workplace, we’d love to hear what you have to say.