It is predicted that by 2021, the market for virtual reality and augmented reality technologies will reach $215 billion. With these two markets expected to grow exponentially, it’s important that your business start considering ways to incorporate both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into your strategies and plans for the future.

Before you can do so, you’ll need to understand the difference between the two. Virtual reality describes a 3D, computer-generated environment that can be explored and interacted with by a person, where they can manipulate objects or engage in a series of actions. On the other hand, augmented reality involves a situation where virtual objects are overlaid on top of real, physical objects to create an illusion they are in the same space. An example of AR would be Snapchat lenses or Pokémon Go.

The main difference between VR and AR is how they’re used, as VR typically requires the user to wear a headset in order to visualize the real-life situation, while AR adds virtual elements into the real world. Both not only use the same type of technology but also help users experience new environments with greater details. Both of these growing markets are being introduced to a variety of industries in ways that are bound to impact our daily lives.

Healthcare

There are multiple ways that virtual reality has shaken up healthcare, starting with how students are educated within the medical field. In 2014, the first cancer surgery was broadcasted in virtual reality using Google Glass as 13,000 medical students from 115 different countries observed and asked questions. Following the broadcast, the students were given a questionnaire revealing that 90% of students who watched live wanted this type of learning to be a part of their curriculum.

In addition to medical students, virtual reality is also improving the patient experience. A 2017 study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California, 50 patients who received VR therapy reported a 24% drop in pain sources. The other 50 patients in the study watched a calming 2D standard video and only saw a 13% decrease in pain.

On top of managing pain, VR has also made positive impacts on patients life. A startup based in Washington called Florea developed various VR scenarios that allow Autistic children to practice social and communication skills. Florea is consistently developing content to help learn social behaviors, manage planned and unplanned events, and improve sensory and emotional regulation. It also allows a surprising adult to monitor and track the child’s progress.

Regarding clinical research, VR offers insights into studying various diseases and offering insights to develop various vaccines. The Vaccine Research Center for the National Institutes of Health in Maryland has been using VR to examine viruses for weak spots that could potentially be targeted in making a new drug. A process is in place to develop a vaccine for AIDS, Ebola, Zika, various cancers, malaria, and others.

Banking and Financing

To assist in the management and understanding of their finances, Fidelity Investments uses StockCity for Oculus Rift that utilizes VR and data visualization. This tool transforms a portfolio into a virtual city where every stock is a building, with its height and footprint represented by the price, trading volume, and outstanding shares, without having to breakdown percentages. The rooftops of these buildings are either red or green, depending on changes in price. Weather also plays a role, as sunshine means the market is up, while rain means its down. StockCity’s overall aim is to help investors process complex information in a quick and easy way.

In an effort to increase trader efficiency, Citi is utilizing a holographic workflow that combines voice, gaze, and gesture movement with a virtual design. The workstation extends a wide variety of information into mixed reality by using a 2D screen and a 3D holographic docking space. This consists of a keyboard, mouse, gaze, gesture and voice input, and the traditional trading floor phone systems. This combination of 2D and 3D not only increases efficiency but also makes it easy to anticipate insights from data.

Citi has also used VR to connect with the customer side of banking. Partnering with Live Nation and NextVR, they produced a series of live VR concerts through the “Backstage with Citi” program that rewards select cardmembers with special events. This gives their customers the opportunity to enjoy shows and virtual backstage experiences through the headsets. Citi also took it one step further when they held the first ever VR concern livestream on the Today Show in May 2018.

E-commerce

The advancements made in augmented reality have made online shopping easier and more hassle-free than ever before. One example of this is the IKEA Place app, which launched in 2017 and aims to let customers see exactly how more than 2,000 furniture items will look, and fit, into their own home. “IKEA Place lets you place true-to-scale 3D furniture in your home using the lens of your iPhone camera,” explains Michael Valdsgaard, the Leader of Digital Transformation at Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

Beauty retailer Sephora has utilized AR with their Virtual Artist app, allowing customers to upload a photo of themselves to try on various products and looks before they buy. There are also “virtual tutorials” that show customers exactly how to apply various products and offers “color matching” so users can find their perfect shade of foundation. If a customer is happy with the look, Virtual Artist lists the products used and adds them to your shopping basket. “Sephora Virtual Artist is a really good example of where there was a real customer need,” Mary Beth Laughton, Sephora’s Executive Vice President of Omni Retail said. “It can be overwhelming coming into our stores or shopping online, but this makes it easy to help you find your favorite shade and save you time.” Since launch, the app has had over 8.5 million visits.

Real Estate

Buying a house is one of the largest commitments a person can make, so it’s no wonder the augmented reality has made its way into the real estate industry. Doing so is an incredibly visual experience, and houses with a wide range of photos often sell faster than ones with don’t. This is taken up a notch with augmented and virtual reality.

Matterport, a California-based startup, is innovating the real estate market with its 3D Showcase. This allows for potential buyers to get a unique perspective of both the inside and outside of any new piece of real estate. Of the experience, Marc Rehberger, Director of Commercial Real Estate at Matterport, said that Matterport is, “supplying a dimensionally accurate model of the space exactly how the human eye would see it. People who are investing, people who are using, and people who are buying love the ability to understand the space because it’s natural. It’s exactly the way it is.” Since its founding in 2011, Matterport has scanned more than 550,000 properties.

Another major part of the purchasing a home is trying to imagine your life and your belongings in a unique space. The virtual staging technology company roOomy makes it easy for buyers to visualize any room the way they would decorate it. From a catalog of more than 100,000 furniture pieces and household items, users can upload a photo of the room and virtually decorate it with their own style.  In addition to benefiting buyers, realtors and sellers using roOomy can save both time and money by virtually staging a space instead of physically filling the home with furniture.

Partner with Ennate to Incorporate VR and AR into your Business Plan

The technology available with VR and AR is changing the future and how we go about our day to day lives. What was once predominantly used within the gaming industry, VR and AR have been making major headway in many other industries, and it is in your company’s best interest to start thinking of ways to benefit from these growing trends to achieve significant ROI. The experts at Ennate will help take your company to the next level with the right tools to incorporate VR and AR into your products and business plan.