How many times in the past have you been wowed by a 3D motion ride? Aren’t we all guilty of visiting a theme park and taking multiple rounds on virtual reality (VR) roller coaster rides? Owing to covid, we can now experience the same thrill from the comfort of our homes. In short, the spread of this deadly pandemic has driven VR into our homes, though it was the other way round in pre-covid times. Therefore, in this article, we will have a look at the impact of covid on VR, how businesses are using it, its various benefits, limitations, and whether companies should invest in this technology or not.
Impact of Covid on VR
Covid has altered the way we carried out everyday tasks. Many activities that required us to step outside have now made their way into our homes, due to the increasing number of people resorting to VR for entertainment and work.
It is expected that VR headsets will have a massive sale of over 30 million units annually by the end of 2023.
With that being said, let’s go over some areas where VR is now being used commonly due to covid.
Fields Where VR is being Used
1. Working Remotely with VR
Imagine being miles away from your fellow workers but experiencing sharing the same office space with them. That’s how working remotely using VR works. Just strap on a VR headset and enter a collaborative virtual environment, with all your colleagues present. It’s like working in the same office, only virtually!
The following video will help you understand this concept in a better way:
Companies are using software like Spatial and Claromentis that provide virtual office spaces where employees can create personalized avatars that mimic their moves. It enables colleagues to join from any device and sit together in a virtual environment from anywhere on the planet.
2. VR Events
The onset of covid led to the cancellation of many scheduled events. But not all were canceled; the organizers of some opted for virtual reality to conduct the events.
The best example of VR events would be VR concerts. This involves singers turning themselves into digital avatars to stage a live concert. In March 2020, the Swedish duo Galantis used a VR platform “Wave” to stage their very first VR concert.
The concert was as close to a real concert as possible, with proper lighting effects and 8D audio. Moreover, the audience was able to communicate with each other through chat.
3. Virtual Points of Sale (Online Shopping)
Although online shopping has been around for a long time, the handful of people who took the time to visit stores in person were driven towards virtual points of sale due to the lockdown. Almost all brands have now set up e-commerce stores and have thriving online sales.
Let’s take L’Oreal for instance. They have launched the Makeup Genius app that allows users to scan their faces and try out various makeup products and purchase the ones that go with their skin tone and features.
This try-on feature is being used by many other brands, and to some extent, it has made up for not being able to physically visit a store to try on clothes and makeup.
4. VR Home Entertainment
With theme parks, gaming arenas, and other public places shut down due to covid, people had a hard time staying indoors with no access to any means of entertainment. This led them to invest in VR headsets and experience the thrill of gaming, exercise, tours, and travel, virtually from the comfort of their homes.
A good example of virtual home entertainment would be VR gaming, which requires the user to put on a VR headset and play alongside their friends in a virtual world. They can move around their hands for the character to mimic the movement and perform tasks.
5. Training Courses Using VR
With traveling and gatherings being ceased due to covid, companies have made learning more effective and inexpensive with the use of VR. Tutorials and training courses are given to employees remotely, to keep them updated and in the know.
Research shows that retention of information increases by nearly 9% using VR over traditional video.
The most popular use of VR training courses is in healthcare, where different scenarios are simulated from an immersive first-person perspective. This not only helps train nurses and doctors to use new medical equipment but also makes them learn new procedures and prepares them to handle emergencies without panicking.
6. VR in Real Estate
Another area where virtual reality is becoming increasingly common during the coronavirus is real estate. Instead of physically visiting the site, potential customers are given virtual tours so that they can have an idea about the property they’re buying or renting out. The following video will give you a better understanding of this feature:
Using VR headsets, tenants can view the entire house, complete with furnishing and decor, to know how the property would look like once they move in.
Hence, we can see that VR is playing a pivotal role in taking a huge step forward when it comes to major fields of work, including business, education, healthcare, gaming, and architecture.
VR not only saves time and money but also opens new gateways of development for companies that incorporate this technology in their business. What other benefits does VR have to offer to your business? Let’s explore.
Benefits of VR from a Business Perspective
1. Fine-tuned Retailing
To revolutionize the in-store experience for retailers, many tech companies have developed virtual reality apps to fine-tune the retailing process. These apps help save time and money, provide state-of-the-art retail solutions, like organizing or remodeling a store layout, managing inventory, carrying out shopper research, and trying out a store concept before spending any money on actual changes. The following video clearly illustrates this concept:
2. Improved Recruitment
VR has made the recruitment process a breeze. Companies can now easily interview potential candidates from across the world, and observe their reactions and body language, just like they would do if the person was sitting right in front of them in the same room. Moreover, they can take a step further and put the applicant in different situations to see how they handle it and whether they can perform under pressure. This helps in choosing the ideal person for the job.
A German logistics company, Deutch Bahn, used VR to hire over 10,000 people over a year. They used VR headsets at a job fair and had the applicants experience what it would be like to work in the company doing various jobs including train conductor, electrician, and construction roles. This spiked the number of interested candidates, who knew what to expect from the job to over 50 from just 10.
3. Reduced Travel Expense
Business meetings are all about traveling to different places to meet clients, partners, or colleagues from other offices. VR can help your company reduce travel expenses and save money. You don’t have to visit other people physically; simply put on VR headsets and have a face-to-face business meeting.
4. Modified Marketing
Many businesses have been successful in promoting their products to potential customers by adding a dose of VR into their marketing strategies.
The most befitting example would be Wendy’s “Keeping Fortnite Fresh” campaign. The famous fast-food chain used VR to market their product and tell a story, by engaging with gamers in Fortnite’s virtual world. In the game’s storyline, the gamers were assigned tasks to hunt cattle and transport beef to nearby restaurants. When Wendy’s found out about this task, they collaborated with VMLY&R and created an avatar that looked like Wendy. The character then proceeded to break into Fortnite’s restaurants and destroy the freezers; hence giving the message that Wendy’s provided fresh beef to its customers.
During the live stream of the video game, Wendy’s social media mentions went up by 119% and received a quarter of a million views. That’s how marketing is with VR!
The positive impact of VR on business can go on and on, but with all these benefits come certain limitations too. Although they’re not deal-breakers, being a marketer you should be aware of all aspects of a certain technology. So here we go:
Limitations of Virtual Reality
An already established business can afford VR headsets for the entire staff, but small to medium-sized businesses might find it difficult to invest in expensive VR equipment, that also for all the employees. Also, they don’t have meetings and interviews consistently, so would it be wise for them to indulge in the luxury of VR? Perhaps they should wait it out to see how things unfold before spending a hefty amount on this technology.
2. Perception not Reality
While the sale of VR headsets and equipment continues to grow, there are concerns that Virtual Reality experiences only replicate real-life offerings. It may make us feel that everything is happening in real-time, but the ability to use all of our five senses would be absent. Also, with more people immersing in the virtual world, there’s a significant decline in meaningful conversations and interactions.
VR has more plus points as compared to negatives, which brings us to the most important question:
Is Going Virtual Worth it?
Virtual reality is still in its preliminary stages, but with the increasing number of businesses utilizing this technology, the virtual reality market is expected to reach USD 209.2 billion by 2022.
Covid has served as a window for us to explore the potentials of VR, and with the ease and comfort it has provided us, it won’t be wrong to say VR is progressing deep into our lives and will definitely thrive long after covid.
Although virtual reality cannot replace real life, still we are excited about how far this technology will go and are looking forward to the next best thing it has to deliver!