Managing director of InGame
Virtual reality is here today. You can buy a headset from the electronics shop at your mall, plug it into a PC or games console and be transported to an impressive 3D world.
You can move around freely, manipulate things and equipment, and lose yourself in beautiful environments with your friends – everything that sci-fi promised us.
Even low-fi versions where you simply slip your smartphone into a casing or even cardboard box are surprisingly effective.
Goldman Sachs estimates that once we get past the initial hype and wow factor, the virtual and augmented reality industry will be worth $100 billion per annum by 2025.
It truly is an impressive experience and one that you quite simply have to try out to appreciate. Chances are your first experience will be a demo in a local mall or technophile friend’s house and most likely of a game or 3D movie.
Once you’ve done that your mind will race as you brainstorm business applications and uses in training, sales, planning and communication.
The training and education industries are already being shaken up by the possibilities of virtual simulations, especially for expensive, hazardous, easily damaged or high-risk scenarios.
Expensive technical equipment, such as MRIs or plant machinery, can be hard to access for training or expensive if broken by rookie mistakes. The memorable experience also leads to greater retention of processes and a higher likelihood of changing behaviour – often the real purpose of training.
In the world of sales, VR has obvious wow factor. It can fully demonstrate product features to prospective clients and personalise it to their tastes or location. High-end virtual real estate is already a thing.
VR is also interactive, making it an ideal planning tool. Beyond merely viewing new premises you could map out various factory and warehouse configurations to plan and optimise your processes.
We can improve on the real world by adding a layer with immediate feedback, guiding instructions, multiple configurations and the ability to mix things up however we like.
Rather than simulating equipment, good training is about simulating processes, best practices and consequences. The result is more effective experiential training, done safely virtually, with analytics certifying employee skills and identifying areas for improvement.
So many things important to our business processes are invisible to us. Smart use of virtual reality techniques can help us see more than previously possible.