Virtual reality poses to be one of the foremost future technologies. While it may still seem like a niche product today, as it comes into prominence in the technology space, more and more developers will tackle integrating VR into their apps and devices.
VR is currently nearing the cusp of global adoption. It's been on an upward climb for viability over the last decade and it's finally reaching the point that highly practical – and profitable – applications are arising.
From healthcare to technology to education, virtual reality will have a lasting impact on how life is done.
The potential for VR
Our experience with technology for the last several decades has been largely 2 dimensional. We've gone from pixelated displays to displays where you can't even see the pixels anymore. All that means that 2D tech is reaching a cusp of potential... so why not move onto 3D innovation?
Early mass adoption is going to be key to realize the potential that VR has. With modern tech, they give us a portal into another world defined by their size. Smartphones give us a tiny portal into the digital world, for example, but we still exist in the real world. VR, on the other hand, takes you fully out of the real world and into a digital one.
If consumers adopt VR, then developers will follow. In 2020, VR & AR revenue is set to surpass $120 billion. In order to understand just how VR will change the world, let's take a look at a few areas in particular.
Travel, outside of fun, might become unnecessary
When you think of business travel or travel for any purpose outside of leisure, chances are, it hinges around meeting someone in person or perhaps scoping a new location. All of this is great, personal interaction is needed, but fully realistic VR takes away a significant need for this travel.
I'm not just talking about seeing though. In order for VR to fully remove the need for a significant portion of business travel, we're going to need haptic feedback and environmental response. Essentially, we're going to need VR to get over that pesky uncanny valley effect.
Another thing to consider for this "elimination of travel" to occur is that of the real estate niche. Prospective buyers moving to new regions – or even just looking at homes down the street – can already utilize 360 degree videos of the homes to get a perspective of what the space is like. Imagine that, but full in VR, able to walk around a property in a completely different location.
It's this concept of travel without actually having to travel, that will be a big game-changer the world will see brought at the hands of virtual reality.
Drawing along the same lines of visualizing new spaces, VR and AR will be particularly adept at aiding conceptualization. Interior designers could use it to showcase updates to clients' homes. Real estate developers could use it to showcase different lobby layouts for new commercial development.
Visualization is core to the growth and success of VR.
Moving along from the possibility the need for travel decreases with mass VR, we can also begin to imagine how it might affect the world if e-commerce.
VR and its influence on marketing
Piggybacking on the potential for VR to remove the need for travel, imagine how websites trying to sell you a product or an experience might leverage VR to help move you along in the buyer's journey.
Universities could take you instantly into your potential dorm room, let you sit in on potential classes, and otherwise let you experience the university without you even having to talk to an actual person.
Commercials wouldn't have to be just static, rather they could take you on a journey through a virtual world and let you experience things like you never have before.
Through augmented reality, you could get an ad on Facebook and instantly be able to see what that product would look like on your desk or in your room.
VR provides a whole new medium for marketers to convince their prospects to buy their products. From a consumer perspective, it's not a bad deal either. Being able to see the actual size of a piece of furniture in your room before you buy it online could save you some headaches later. In fact, this particular augmented reality feature is already being used by many furniture retailers across the web.
Learn new skills with virtual reality
Lastly, one of the largest ways that VR will impact the world around us is what tools it will give us to learn new things. For a teen learning how to jumpstart a car, imagine if they could actually do it in VR, as opposed to just reading a help article on the topic. More complex skills are likely better suited though.
For example, want to learn how to work on your car? Well VR could allow you to hop into a mechanic simulator and work on your exact car. Not only would this teach you the correct process, but it would give you the visual and muscle memory of doing it too, both major aides to the learning retention process.
Major manufacturers are already utilizing VR in training environments. It decreases the material requirements for training a new employee and can be done in a safe environment, rather than on the often dangerous shop floor. Virtual classrooms in a VR space are a major potential benefit to mass-virtual reality. Attend college from your home while still getting the "college experience". Learn to work on cars all from your bedroom. VR education is sounding pretty nice right about now.
So, VR has the potential to change much of the world around us, and mostly for the better. While writing, we're in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Imagine the benefits that VR would have on people's mental health right now while maintaining social distancing. Virtual worlds seem to be ahead for many of us...