It may sound strange, but the first multimedia virtual reality device was created in 1957. Known as the ‘Sensorama’, the device featured a viewing screen inside an enclosed booth fitted with a rotating chair, fans, audio speakers, and a machine used to create smells. These functions helped to create a fully immersive experience. Fast forward to today, virtual reality devices are much smaller and much more popular. Companies such as Google and Sony have helped make them more accessible for the average person. While consumers purchased millions of devices last year, a lot of companies still wonder whether virtual reality can be an effective solution for their business. Let’s take a look at both the commercial and entertainment applications of virtual reality, and how they can benefit almost any business.
With virtual reality becoming more popular, some sectors have begun to quickly adopt it while others are more hesitant. The most receptive and embracing has been the entertainment sector, and video games have become the most popular application of the technology. Traditionally, video games have involved individuals controlling a character or units on a screen solely for entertainment value. Now, virtual reality has allowed video games to become fully immersive and designed to go beyond the simple entertainment factor. The ability to completely customize an experience allows marketing messages to go beyond a simple flyer or a 140-character advertisement.
The incredible ability to engage the viewer has not been confined to video games. Creators have been able to leverage the technology for everything from music experiences to art gallery installations and more. You may be wondering how this technology is able to engage differently from a normal video. While a normal video or music experience is able to present the information, virtual reality causes the viewer to truly feel the creator’s intended message. Imagine, being transported across the world to watch a love story unfold or back to the middle ages to watch a historic battle unfold. These factors combine to create a unique experience for any entertainment viewed through virtual reality lenses.
While we have all seen the amazing ability of virtual reality to engage people in an entertaining fashion, how can the technology be used to benefit businesses? Don’t worry, the commercial applications are just as abundant as the entertainment applications. Immersion in the entertainment sector allows for people to be entertained; immersion in the commercial sector allows for people to remember exponentially more material compared to traditional training methods. From new hire training to jobs with an ever-expanding knowledge base, such as the medical field, virtual reality provides a powerful medium to convey information.
Being able to present information in a visually stimulating and engaging format has more benefits than just training. Imagine, a sales person for a flooring or industrial equipment company. How can they fully describe and demonstrate an extremely large product that they can’t physically bring with them to a meeting? Brochures are nice, and a PowerPoint presentation can contain a large amount of information, but they can’t fully communicate the 3D perspective and benefits of a product. A virtual reality headset is easy to transport and can be one of the most effective sales tools.
How many conference calls do you take? We have all muted the phone and zoned out from time to time, only to come back when the speaker is finishing up something important. In 2015, bad meetings cost U.S. companies 37 billion dollars. Instead of traditional, ineffective collaboration methods, virtual reality work spaces can allow users across to world to be transported right next to each other in avatar form. While these are definitely not all of the applications of the technology, you can see that virtual reality can transform both the entertainment and commercial spaces.