Virtual reality technology has found a home in a variety of industries from manufacturing to healthcare to education. Now, with the introduction of standalone headsets such as Oculus Go, Vive Focus, and Facebook's recent statements declaring they are working hard towards social VR, seems like virtual reality will soon be a part of our day-to-day routine. However, many still believe that the only place where VR really belongs is the gaming sector. Even though this statement is partly persuasive, the array of industries that take advantage of the growing popularity of this emerging technology is wide.
For many years, VR seemed like a trend that would pop out of nowhere and change the way we interact, communicate, watch, and play. The technology is being actively advanced, and people are fascinated by the way it simplifies the process of sharing content with friends and clients in a persuasive and immersive way. The VR industry is growing at a fast pace, with the market been doubled in 2017 compared to 2016, next year VR market will supposedly reach the value of $12.1 billion, while the revenue from hardware and hardware will reach more than $40 billion by 2020, according to Statista.
Multiple market research assumes that there will be 171 million active VR users in 2018, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made company's goal to 'attract 1 billion people to virtual reality' clear. With more than 190 different headsets available on Amazon as of today and at least three (Oculus Go, Vive Focus announced just a few days ago, Project Santa Cruz) releasing in the next few months, it is not hard to achieve this forecast.
In 2015, Google's Customer Survey revealed that 41% of US-based users are willing to try virtual reality which is about 86M individuals with a potential interest in technology. With some many people expressing enthusiasm towards VR, industries have all the chances to make them early adopters by including virtual reality experience into their product line or marketing materials. Let's take a look at possible ways for this technology to be implemented in the industry you are in.
Besides gaming, education is one of the first industries that can naturally benefit from virtual reality. Interactive experiences have been received a warm welcome in the academia. The Penn State University uses VR for professional training and practicing, while the University of British Columbia is experimenting with virtual classrooms to cut expenses and increase productivity. Google even created Google Expeditions to help teachers visualize their lessons and take students to immersive VR journeys. Case Western Reserve is utilizing virtual reality to teach anatomy because in VR students can do many things that are impossible doing with corpses.
While education is an early adopter of VR, this technology is still in its infancy in this market which could not be said about training programs. NASA has been using zero-G virtual reality to train astronauts for years as well as creating virtual tours through space. Another example, the University of California (UCLA) is training neurosurgeons using 'Surgical Theatre,' their proprietary virtual reality software.
This industry is one of the greatest adopters of VR where you can actually see a sustainable value. Virtual reality diagnostics, virtual robotic surgery, simulation software - all of this and more is used across the industry. For example, Chu Angers University Hospital in France stimulated patient's brain with VR while a medical procedure (removal of a cancerous brain tumor) took place. HumanSim, an advanced virtual healthcare training that enables medical personnel to go through various scenarios in an interactive environment.
This industry is a bit less obvious adopter of virtual reality; however, the possibilities are illustrated quite well by Ford and Toyota's examples. Ford released a VR app that allows users dive into many VR experiences to learn what's going on behind the scenes of automotive manufacturing. Toyota uses virtual reality technology in marketing and pre-sales activities (so that's also a marketing example) when allowing customers explore new C-HR before purchasing. Another automotive giant, Jaguar created a special VR brochure that helps car dealers showcase their car remotely, relieving customers of the necessity of traveling to a dealership facility.
Marketing and Advertising
Virtual reality is a technology accessible to brands and consumers alike. Marketers and advertisers who are driving good customer experience have already taken advantage of this technology by creating promo reels or mini-games, such as Feel Wimbledon from Jaguar UK or Santa’s Sleigh Ride VR from Coca-Cola.
VR Statistics and Forecasts
Many statistics portals, as well as industry-specific platforms, gather information to deliver forecasts of the VR market having dramatic growth beyond its current size in the near future. According to Sketchfab's survey, a large portion of the community (49.1%) believe that the gaming stays the biggest adopter of VR. Education and health care follow the gaming sector with 18.1% and 10.7% accordingly. Business and social sectors are also on the list with less than 6% of responded voted.
Statista, industry's most influential statistics portal claimed that in best case scenario, the economic impact from both VR and AR, which stands for augmented reality, will reach $29.5 billion in 2020. The same growth is predicted by SuperData's VR market and consumer research. They forecasted that by 2020, the market of virtual reality software and headsets would be worth 15 times more than it is now - at least $28.3 billion.
It may be hard to judge how big the non-gaming market will become in the future, but the predictions are pretty encouraging. And with Facebook, Microsoft, HTC, and many other tech giants are pushing the industry forward, investing billions into hardware and software, virtual reality development is in good hands.