Virtual reality technology is certainly going to rule the future world. Although 4K screens are a good option for improving viewers’ experiences, nothing can match the experience that virtual reality can offer.
The moment you put on a VR headset, you are instantly transported to a different world. Virtual reality can completely mimic the experience in the real world around us. And that’s the primary reason for its effectiveness!
Just think about it.
How do we perceive reality?
It is anything that our eyes and ears pick up. Virtual reality works with the same principle in mind.
By using stereoscopic vision, VR can make us feel that we are actually present and participating in the scene. The audio headset also supports this by providing three dimensional sound.
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality enables users to interact and explore within a three-dimensional environment.
It helps to present the user interface in a 3D format. Although TV screens and monitors allow a limited 3D experience, with virtual reality, the user will be able to deep dive and immerse himself in a virtual world.
While the original idea was to create a three-dimensional experience for virtual games and 3D movies, VR is currently being used extensively in various training programmes, science and education as well as multiple other applications.
In today’s world, virtual reality technology has grown to such an extent that it can make people feel like they are trekking a mountain or doing a specialised industrial procedure while sitting in their living room.
However, experiencing VR requires special equipment: headset with inbuilt audio systems.
If you’ve ever been to a VR movie festival, it will definitely be hard to forget the fantastic experience you had there!
Virtual reality vs augmented reality
Source: Pegus Digital
Despite the similar design, augmented reality and virtual reality are actually designed to accomplish two different goals in different ways.
The fundamental difference between virtual reality and augmented reality is that while virtual reality creates a 3D virtual world for the user, augmented reality adds a virtual element to the real world.
In short, virtual reality replaces your reality by taking you to a different world, augmented reality adds to it.
Augmented reality devices such as Google glasses or Microsoft HoloLens are transparent, letting you see what is in front of you and at the same time adding a virtual element in front of you.
Unlike VR, AR technology is designed for the free movement of the user projecting images wherever the wearer looks at.
Both VR and AR are powerful technological advances that are sure to rule tomorrow’s world. They can completely change how we use computers in the future, but the answer to the question of who will succeed is best left to time.
Benefits of virtual reality
Here are some noteworthy benefits of virtual reality:
1. Improves educational value
It helps in providing training to students, especially those who are studying complex subjects like engineering or medicine. Students can experience real-world situations that are not always easy to find and practice their skills within that sphere.
Providing educational value through VR training is not just limited to students but is equally apt for companies who plan to leverage this technology to develop the soft skills of their employees. VR based training is effectively being used by various organisations for employee evaluation, improving presentation skills, developing team management skills, as well as for customer service training.
2. Helps to overcome language barriers
One significant problem when it comes to traditional training is the language barrier that trainees have to face. By using the power of VR, it is possible to implement multiple language systems by using suitable software.
3. Creating Interest
VR technology is exceptionally engaging and interesting. The experience is almost three to four times better than a traditional audiovisual device.
4. Helps in visualisation
This technology empowers trainers to provide an immersive experience to the respondents or trainees. With the power of VR, participants can experience things that cannot be understood through mere classroom training.
Various job scenarios, especially those that are customer-facing often undergo challenging and overwhelming situations that are hard to train for before you actually face them.
A public dealing bank employee or a call centre employee, for example, will often have to deal with angry customer outbursts and emotionally charged situations. VR simulations are used to train employees to develop the skills required to handle such scenarios. These include multiple interpersonal skills like listening, understanding, practising calm, problem resolution skills, etc.
VR training and simulations are also used within the marketing and sales departments to help them visualise and understand a customer’s reaction to a particular sales technique.
Similarly, VR simulations are considered very effective in developing presentation skills for employees at managerial levels. Participants can practice giving client presentations through a VR avatar enacting as a customer.
Virtual Reality training
Virtual reality-based training is making use of digital simulation to create life-like scenarios for training purposes. The moment a trainee puts on his/her VR headset, they are instantly transported to a virtual world designed to promote active learning.
Using remote controllers and a VR headset, users can freely move around in a virtual environment, interact with other participants, and experience the sounds and visuals that allow them to immerse into the new reality.
Specific workplace scenarios are challenging to train, such as emergencies, preparing for disaster, emergency protocols and so on. When combined with a unique blend of story narrative and curriculum developed by experts, wonderful results can be obtained.
VR also helps to enhance better workplace safety, team collaboration, job performance and learning retention.
With remote working being the new norm, VR is definitely set to be the preferred platform for leadership development programs, soft skill development and bridging multiple other training gaps for employees.
Check out these VR based training solutions for leadership development, employee onboarding, team effectiveness, developing future talent, diversity and inclusion training, etc.
Virtual reality applications
VR has countless applications in the modern era. The following are some of the essential applications of Virtual Reality:
1. Leadership training and organisational learning
In today’s world, soft skills are essential to staying competitive in the job market. Companies want leaders who have problem-solving abilities, leadership development skills, creativity and effective communication.
Virtual reality helps companies to train their employees and boost their leadership skills by showing real-life scenarios and training them how to respond.
2. Virtual Meetings
Forget online meetings through Skype or Zoom, when you can use highly interactive Virtual sessions. Having a remote meeting lets you break free from the limitations of tiny corners on your screen and interact freely with your coworkers just the way you attend a physical meeting.
3. Entertainment and sports
VR can completely revolutionise the world of entertainment by allowing people to experience movies or sports through a VR stadium environment.
4. Education and learning
The advent of VR has completely revolutionised the education industry as well. Students are now able to experience immersive learning through VR.
VR applications to teach anatomy, marine biology, handling of industrial machinery and so on, can help students experience real-world scenarios in a safe and controlled environment.
5. Mental health
In recent years VR has been effectively used to treat patients with phobias, depression and anxiety. With the power of VR, patients can re-experience a traumatic event and come to terms with it for healing.
6. Real estate tours
How about viewing a prospective property while sitting in the comfort of your home. You don’t have to experience the stress of travelling which helps you to think clearly and make better decisions.
Since the COVID-19 crisis erupted, several real estate companies have introduced virtual viewing to their potential buyers. This helps save time as well as money since potential buyers can relax and visit properties from their own location.
7. Try before you buy
How about having a first-hand experience before buying certain items such as an air ticket, hotel rooms, automobile, clothing, etc.
VR allows users to try and feel several items before finally finalising a product for purchase.
Immersive virtual reality
With this feature, it is possible to temporarily disconnect audiences from their real-world surroundings and help them to fully engage or immerse themselves into the situation presented to them.
Immersiveness is an essential factor contributing to the effectiveness of VR applications such as VR therapy and VR gaming.
This feature will convince your users that the virtual environment that is presented to them is, in fact, real.
The problem with virtual reality is that although the imagery and sounds seem very realistic at the back of their minds, people still think it is fake.
With the power of immersive virtual reality, it is possible to disconnect users temporarily from their real-world environment and make them engage more within the scene.
Here are some of the factors that contribute to immersive VR:
Freedom of movement
This is an important factor that contributes to an immersive experience. Freedom of movement can be achieved with dedicated VR rooms and room-scale VR.
Continuity of surroundings
This is one of the essential aspects to ensure that users fully engage with virtual reality. The user should be able to look in whatever direction he pleases and feel continuity.
A VR environment should be accompanied by three-dimensional audio where the user will feel that the sound from the objects is coming from its natural directions. This will help to have a realistic effect.
Here, users will interact with objects just like they do with real ones. For example, they can move objects like shelves, tables, kitchen utensils etc., as per the original VR design to have a realistic effect.
This helps users to have a feeling of real-world interaction. For example, when they move an object, they should feel the object in their hand.
Conformance to human vision
This feature helps to confirm the elements that allow human beings to understand their environments. For example, when a person moves, the size of the objects at a distance will get bigger or smaller.
Users who are dealing with the VR environment should decide the flow of the narrative.
Virtual reality examples
Let’s look at some real world examples of successful applications of VR.
1. Thomas Cook
Travel agents need to vividly describe a place to a potential client to create a conversion. However, there is no guarantee that the agent may have personally visited the site.
Thomas Cook, a UK based travel company, used virtual reality, enabling their travel agents to experience the trip first hand.
2. Veryx food sorting
As a part of the company’s comprehensive B2B campaign to improve brand awareness, they created a VR demo that allowed the attendees of the Pack Expo food packaging trade show to have a surrealistic experience of the working of Veryx’s automated food processing machinery.
3. New York Times
This popular newspaper delivered Google cardboard glasses to their subscribers to watch a VR film, and they did it a few more times to show different movies. The glasses were only delivered to their most loyal subscribers, as a reward for brand loyalty.
One of the films they displayed was about kids who were displaced worldwide due to war. The intensity of experience that VR technology could deliver was praiseworthy, and it also helped reinforce brand loyalty.
4. Toms shoes
The famous shoe manufacturer is known to provide a pair of free shoes for everyone who makes a purchase.
With the power of virtual reality, the company can showcase its customers a first-hand experience of a journey to Peru and give them a pair of shoes. The VR experience is well designed to create an emotional feeling while promoting its marketing campaign.
The popular sportswear manufacturing company partnered with Somewhere Else, a marketing tech company, to follow the mountain-climbing journey of two experienced athletes.
With the power of VR, audiences could have a 360 degree view of the journey. By holding two sensory remote controls in their hands, the viewers could climb the mountain along with the experienced mountaineers. Amazing, right?!
In recent years, tech companies have invested heavily in the development of virtual reality. As technology improves, we will be able to see VR equipment with more intelligent hardware and 3D audio to match coming up.
Recently, companies have also started developing virtual touch sensation for the objects that a user interacts with within the virtual world.
With new graphical techniques known as foveated rendering, it is possible to take advantage of the limited focal point of the human eye to deliver ultra high definition images only when the eyes are focused.
There is no doubt that virtual reality technology is going to conquer the world in the years to come!
Call us at Growth Academy Asia for all your virtual reality application based queries.
Co-founder and Managing Director
Stuart Harris, co-founder of Growth Academy Asia, has a vast background in corporate events and learning & development. As co-founder and managing director at Team Building Asia, Stuart has developed a large network of international clients over the past 20 years and brought an innovative perspective to the more traditional elements of team building, which lead to the founding Growth Academy Asia. With GAA, he aspires to disrupt the L&D industry with the immersive VR organisational and leadership programmes.