The Future of VR in 5 Major Industries
Think virtual reality amounts to just some guy sitting on his couch playing a game through a headset? Think again. Virtual reality (VR) is making a splash in all kinds of industries, not just in gaming. While it’s true that VR headsets for immersive entertainment have finally become accessible and inexpensive enough for the average consumer, there are some very exciting advancements in VR on the horizon that are focused on solving specific challenges in a number of industries. The VR industry itself is growing at a rapid pace—it’s expected to be worth $30 billion in revenue by 2020 as the technology catches on and advances for different purposes. Let’s take a look at 5 industries that can expect to see the impact of VR in the near future—and some of the opportunities that are opening up for the technology within these fields.
Always on the cutting edge of new technology, there are massive opportunities for VR in the healthcare realm. One of the biggest advantages of VR in healthcare is using the technology to train the next generation of doctors and surgeons—without risking the safety of patients. Virtual emergency rooms are being developed to allow students to experience and get used to the chaos and stress of the emergency room, without the high stakes of the real emergency room. Surgeons are also being trained using simulations that can help them hone their skills and learn complex procedures without risk to a real patient.
VR has also been used effectively in treating patients with PTSD, phobias, and similar conditions, and it has immense potential for behavior therapy and chronic pain relief. In the future, it may be able to make telehealth even more beneficial to patients and doctors alike.
Though VR has been on the horizon of the film industry for a long time, it’s still mostly used to generate hype for upcoming movies. That could change in the next few years, however, as studios work to overcome the challenges of VR in film to make it the next big step in entertainment. There’s definitely interest from consumers—Youtube’s 360 degree video channel has over a million subscribers, but the future of VR in the film industry is still in its early stages. Studios still have to figure out how to create a seamless film that viewers can enjoy in a 360 degree view—and that isn’t easy. However, there’s little doubt that some experimentation will be taking place in the coming years. Instead of 3-D glasses, we could be walking into the theatre with VR headsets for a truly immersive experience.
There are two major roles of VR emerging in the field of athletics: player training and fan experience.
Fraught with player injuries, some NFL teams have turned to VR solutions to help train players without risking their injury. Usually, players have limitations on how many times they can practice a play for safety reasons, but VR allows them to analyze their own movements and teammates movements as many times as they want to. This is a fantastic resource for training all players, but it has been particularly effective for quarterbacks and for novice players learning the ropes. STRIVER, the VR system used for player training, has been used by 23 professional and college teams to give them an edge.
Fans can also benefit from VR when watching their favorite teams. The NBA and some other sports organizations have started covering some games using 360 degree cameras. Fans at home can tune in and wear their own compatible headset to watch the game in a totally immersive experience—almost like being on the court or field. This service is expected to expand as time goes on.
Little has changed in the way we buy cars worldwide in the last few decades. Sure, we may look up information about models of interest online, but a car is a large purchase, and a test drive is an important part of the consideration process. VR may be changing that in the future by giving shoppers a virtual test drive that feels real. For the automotive industry, VR may be the key to improving sales and engaging customers in a new, more convenient way. Some auto manufacturers are also using VR technology to create virtual prototypes before they commit to a design, saving time and money.
There are a staggering number of possibilities for VR in education, and they’re only beginning to be realized. From taking students on virtual museum tours to allowing college students more of the classroom experience online, VR could help engage students and give them new opportunities for learning. One exciting possibility? Cultural immersion and understanding for students of all ages—brought to them without taking a single step.