The idea of enhancing the limitations of physical experience through virtual immersion is as old as imagination. A crude solution was born in the 1950’s that sought to make virtual reality (VR) marketable using three-dimensional (3D) filming and glasses for viewing, with very limited success. A variety of solutions rose and fell over the years with an emphasis on the consumer market and a history of expectations not being met, but technology has finally arrived with VR and its growth will likely accelerate the development of enterprise uses and applications.
Leading the way into truly immersive VR technology is the Oculus Rift, an advanced VR headset that is finally meeting expectations. Patrick Walker expressed in Virtual reality can bring a new dimension for business that “I was so deeply present in that moment, in those worlds: the promise of VR, finally realised.” Consumer markets have been a primary focus for VR development for many years, but technology is now advanced enough that enterprises are ready to drive even greater growth. The consumer focus of VR over the years is an indicator that companies will see marketing as the most obvious entry to the application of VR technology.
Arthur Thomas explores marketing possibilities on the rise in Business uses for virtual reality by considering how companies like Harley-Davidson reach potential buyers through VR in their living rooms. He predicts that the VR market will be huge, as “marketing companies are going to be able to market to you as you walk through a virtual world.” While the use of VR for marketing has potential, these projections are still based on consumers adopting VR and buying the appropriate technology.
Embracing VR in true enterprise applications will go far beyond the idea of marketing to consumers, since design, operations, and productivity are impacted by far more sophisticated applications. Walker explains in Virtual reality that companies can use advanced headsets and applications to test new designs and find crucial issues before making huge investments in prototypes and manufacturing, and to enable global collaboration in these efforts, reducing the costs of travel. Walker expects a rapid rise of ideas for “content creators, educators, businesses, and brands.”
As the latest technology creates new excitement and once again offers hope, Ford Motor Company provides one of the better testimonies as to the actual suitability of enterprise adoption. Using a variety of applications since 1999, John Gaudiosi explains in How Ford goes further with virtual reality that “VR has changed the way Ford makes vehicles through its product development and manufacturing processes.” While the company already uses VR extensively, Ford’s advanced visual technology specialist Elizabeth Baron is ecstatic about the advancement in technology represented by the Oculus Rift, calling developments “a dream come true because I knew head-mounted displays could become what they are [now] for a decade and it frustrated me that there was no innovation until Oculus Rift.”
Investments in VR are rising rapidly, and the uses being developed are constantly being expanded across many enterprise fields. Marcello Miranda provides substantial examples of VR development since the introduction of the Oculus Rift, including marketing solutions, virtual collaboration, manufacturing design, medical uses, and more, in The Big List of Virtual Reality Applications for the Enterprise. Miranda believes “technology is finally ready to achieve the levels of immersion and presence” that have been expected for years.