Image credit: Oculus Business/VR training at Johnson & Johnson
Mere decades ago, virtual reality was limited to the imagination, and relegated to science fiction movies. But today, that’s all changed.
In 2012, virtual reality launched with a splash in the video game industry, as Oculus VR became an instant hit along with Rift, a virtual reality headset designed for gaming. When Facebook bought Oculus VR in 2014, virtual reality began moving to mainstream use with VR experiences available for the public. In 2015, the Wall Street Journal presented a virtual reality guided tour of 21 years of Nasdaq and the BBC created a 360-degree video virtual reality experience of a Syrian migrant camp.
Now, virtual reality is still forging ahead, with scores of companies developing VR products. FutureSource Consulting research projects that worldwide VR market volume is expected to reach $98.4 million in sales by 2023.
New Uses for VR
COVID-19 restrictions forced many offices to close their doors. As businesses had to digitally transform operations in weeks instead of months, VR emerged with new use cases. Businesses added VR solutions as one of the digital tools needed to support remote workers in their job functions. A handful of museums turned to VR to keep the virtual doors open to guests, while other organizations built digital VR assistants to function as safe, efficient public tour guides.
However, the technology isn’t just for bringing those at home into a virtual landscape. Organizations are using VR in office, factory, and hospital settings, applications that may become more commonplace in the future. Here are four ways solution integrators can use this innovative technology in a business environment:
1. Recruitment. Finding, attracting, and hiring the right talent is challenging for most organizations, even when there are no pandemic-induced remote working issues. Scheduling multiple interviews, facilities tours, and determining whether the company and candidate are a good fit is sometimes a logistical challenge. Using virtual reality, recruiters can help prospects see the office, envision the role, and hold an in-person interview that’s a more robust experience than a typical Zoom call, but doesn’t involve the inconvenience of an in-person meeting.
2. Training and education. Using virtual reality in education is nothing new. NASA uses virtual reality to train astronauts, using its Virtual Reality Laboratory (VRL), an immersive training facility. Schools are also using the technology, providing virtual experiences in subjects such as ecology, evolution, biology, and history. For instance at Ithaca College, students are using VR to explore the Anne Frank House. Companies of all types such as UPS and Siemens are using VR training programs for their associates, acclimating new hires to the office environment and presenting job expectations. In healthcare, the Johnson & Johnson Institute is enhancing surgical training and team collaboration with Osso VR software and the Oculus for Business platform.
3. Collaboration. Remote collaboration solutions are more feature-rich with VR technology. Virtual reality gathers colleagues together with technology so immersive it feels like they’re in the same space and on an actual team. VR helps workers connect more personally and pick up on non-verbal communication and cues from colleagues they might miss with typical teleconferencing technologies.
4. Telecommuting. Workers who have been homebound for the past year know the frustration of dealing with colleagues in different locations. But even before pandemic restrictions, team members across geographies were challenged by the inability to interact face-to-face. Virtual reality can give team members the ability to sit in the same room, in a single virtual space, without having to travel to other offices. The technology can make it easier for employees to telecommute without sacrificing the value of in-person meetings.
Image credit: Siemens VR training
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