I bought a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge in March (great phone, BTW), and as part of the deal I was shipped Samsung’s Gear VR (Virtual Reality) headset a couple of months later.
I was excited to get the Gear VR not for myself, but for my 11-year-old son. And while I’m far past the point of being particularly interested in video games, it was hard not to be impressed by the alternate world in which I was immersed once I donned the headgear. The visual reality of your immediate surroundings is replaced by the virtual realm you’ve entered.
Look up and you don’t see the ceiling of the room you’re in; you see whatever was programmed into the game — outer space, birds flying, aliens attacking, etc. Look down, behind and all around you, and it’s the same story. However, if you take a step in the wrong direction while wearing the Gear VR, you may find yourself tripping over the coffee table that has been temporarily rendered invisible by your headset.
The inability of a virtual reality headgear user to see his or her physical surroundings certainly limits the practicality of VR in the workplace. Employees — especially those not at a desk or otherwise stationary position — tend to perform better when they’re grounded in actual, rather than virtual, reality.
Yet virtual reality today is finding uses in a number of industries, writes TechCrunch contributor Sean Jacobsohn, a venture investor at Norwest Venture Partners. Some real estate brokers and developers now use virtual reality tours to close leasing and sales deals, Jacobsohn says, while VR headsets can help train healthcare professionals and even patients.
“Patients are able to learn about the procedures being performed on them so that they fully understand the operation and their recovery needs,” Jacobsohn writes.
Manufacturers use VR for product design and engineering, including Ford, Boeing, Caterpillar and defense industry giant Lockheed Martin.
Enterprises now are just scratching the surface of VR’s potential, but as new applications are discovered, that will change. As Jacobsohn writes, “Imagine virtual training and certification programs for everyone from sales reps to aerospace engineers. There also will be a whole new wave of virtual meeting and collaboration tools that not only empower remote workers, but save on travel and training costs. The possibilities of VR in the enterprise are endless.”
The challenge for enterprises will be to build apps that can leverage the advantages of virtual reality for real-world uses. Two potential snags are the shortage of mobile developers across multiple industries and the lack of VR development tools, both of which could stretch out development cycles.
Still, the benefits of VR are compelling enough to inspire many enterprises to invest sufficient time and resources to this emerging technology.
Does your enterprise use virtual reality?