Virtual reality (VR) isn’t just for gaming: there’s a whole range of possibilities in the business world, and strong interest in investigating the potential.
A new study by ABI Research found that although only 4% of businesses surveyed currently have VR in operation, another 85% are at least in the stages of early investigation.
At present, the industries with the most VR activity or interest are healthcare, retail, automotive/transportation and consumer packaged goods.
Training, testing and marketing are among the most popular target functions for VR, along with sector-specific applications like treatments/therapies for anxiety conditions in medicine, or virtual showrooms in retail.
Although the business-to-business (B2B) market will take longer to develop than the consumer space, its expansion could occur at a faster rate than previously thought, said Michael Inouye, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.
A recent article in the Daily Telegraph explored several business applications of VR, such as enhancing the sales experience when booking a holiday or buying a house.
For instance, Thomas Cook offered a VR helicopter tour of Manhattan, which boosted revenues for the real thing by 190%, and Rightmove has trialled VR tours to show people round properties.
Ikea is trialling the use of VR to present virtual home makeovers, and the British Army is using VR as a recruiting tool, helping potential recruits to experience the type of training they might receive, such as parachute jumping or urban combat training.
Sam Rosen, Managing Director and VP at ABI Research, commented: “For any application that benefits from deeply immersive experiences, VR is often a natural fit. We’re starting to see some early experimentation where VR will expand its horizons. The combination of a VR headset with a camera pass-through for merged reality experience, in particular, will open it up to a much wider range of applications.
“We still expect the consumer segment of the VR market to hold the largest revenue share over the next five years, but eventually we anticipate the B2B opportunity will overtake the consumer space, especially if VR and related technologies do become the next compute platform.”