Connecting The Benefits Of Artificial Reality & Virtual Reality In Business & Operations

An independent marketing consultant, Indraneel serves corporations in areas like customer acquisition and stake holder narratives.

When it comes to Virtual Reality, it's not all fun and games, even though this technology has some serious business applications. The world is filling up with more and more VR goggles for immersive experiences. Augmented Reality hardware and software is aimed at selling the most challenging environments and can be put to work in industrial, enterprise and automotive operations. Any project, be it creating a smart city or making your industrial operations visible through a more progressive tool-like augmented reality is to bring background information to the fore.

AR can also help visualising real 3D models at a true scale, and thus needs accurate data fed into it. With the roll out of high-speed broadband, virtual reality has come to life in our smartphones. You can now shop for clothes online in digital stores, real estate with a virtual tour of the house laid out for individual purchase experiences and even enjoy virtual street maps through your glasses without having to refer to your phone. Social Media players like Facebook and Snapchat are also vying positioning in this space in addition to existing players like Apple and Google. All the while, the technology community is also putting their heads together to understand how AR can be put to use in our daily lives - work and personal, because many industries are already experimenting with the short term benefits of AR in their own space.

Small Businesses Leveraging Big Thinking
Virtual Reality and Immersive Experience technologies go beyond just consumer entertainment - it has tangible business benefits. By the end of 2018, more than 800 million smart-phones are predicted to have both an Operating System with dedicated AR support and sufficiently powerful hardware (CPUs, GPUs, DSPs and neural chips) to power them. Discrete app revenues for AR content and devices are expected to be under $100 million globally in 2018 (Gartner). Even Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced the aggressive goal of one billion VR users just recently.

A big need today for businesses is to create the right experience for their customers. The idea is that experiences create lifelong memories, while material goods are replaceable upgradable and have short term impacts. Investing in customer experience is very crucial for brands aiming to create the emotional connections that sustain loyalty of a user or buyer, long after the initial buzz of that one new purchase has faded.

Today, we are witnessing a heavy shift from product to experience, powered by digital technologies and across industries. Netflix is pretty much out of the business of DVD rental services, but has retained its value proposition of getting movies to people's homes. And that is at the core of what Virtual Reality and Immersive Experiences have to offer. Since most people are already familiar with the gaming applications of the VR technology, here are some current examples of how workplace applications are drawing benefits from VR.

VR is already in use in the medical field to provide assistance with surgical training, to treat brain damage thorough assessments and rehabilitation

Benefits & Applications Across Industries
VR goes a step further in creating great business sense when the power of experiencing a virtual environment goes into the hands of a creator. As a builder, an engineer or architect will be able to simulate designs and save copies of it. The product cycle shortens and cost goes down because of the ability to make faster decisions, and clear information fed into a centralised system. The capability of remapping production lines in virtual environments allows for experimentation without costs, say for a physically repositioning factory machinery. A 3D modelling in a virtual environment allows for the machine operator as well as the whole team to try out different configurations. Savings in ongoing operations are achieved through in-creased time management because layouts are experienced before they are implemented. This comes with the added benefit of training people with skills to operate heavy machinery without any real risks of physical harm.

In the field of aerospace for example, when you are putting together a satellite, there is a core and a system module which when assembled to integrate vertically together gives a clearance of just millimetres between one important part and another. This needs careful precision as well as visibility for the entire team. A VR environment comes in extremely handy when technicians get to practice to perfection before they launch the satellite into outer space.

VR also allows for social interaction due to the ability of high speed internet. VR is already in use in the medical field to provide assistance with surgical training, to treat brain damage thorough assessments and rehabilitation. For example, positioning a 360° camera directly over a patient not only records the details of the surgery but also allows for trainees to observe their team's dynamics. In the military, for example, the survival of workers in critical life or death can depend on the skills that individual has. High stress simulations and training exercises through realistic simulations will prepare cadets for high risk scenarios. Virtual reality is changing how we innovate and educate.

VR for the Future
The times we are in, it is impossible to predict how exactly a technology would play out. Even then, VR is already being put to use in space missions, building cars. e-Commerce models allow their customers' imagination to guide them, as they virtually experience their product. This has been done by companies, including Lego and IKEA, where you're able to scan a catalog to see what the end product looks like or how it would fit into your room. AR studios' promise of simplicity makes it accessible to more creative minds who could help bridge the experience gap in e-Commerce platforms.

With augmented reality, agencies and marketers will be able to create unique experiences for buyers in brick and mortar shops by bringing in a digital virtual element. Creating virtual tours in the store can add an element of fun while allowing buyers to learn more about products or services. For example, Jura has an AR app that allows consumers to try on watches virtually and compare looks. Virtual environment and related experiences allow for people to fully immerse themselves in scenarios that may be intriguing, funny or emotional- above all, it is engaging. Businesses can use VR to amplify or express their company's core through services and content that provides people with the ‘why' of the company, rather than the ‘what'.