VR velocity: The new wave of virtual reality applications

Virtual reality promises deeper, immersive experiences, it just need to have the right data to make the most of it. CMO takes a look at the consumer and business applications driving take-up


Training transformed by immersive tech

Then there are businesses seeing the possibilities of developing training using VR. Here, the possibilities are almost endless because it can be used to deliver training in any range of environments and for any type of applications. 

Virtual classrooms where participants attend from anywhere in the world are starting to be developed, while training for operations in dangerous settings such as mines or oil rigs can be delivered using VR. It's an environment that is realistic but safe, meaning any mistakes or missteps don’t result in loss of life or damage to sensitive and expensive equipment. 

Likewise, specialised medical training, which is typically expensive, time consuming and complicated to execute, can benefit from being delivered through VR. It can dramatically reduce the complexity and speed involved. Training surgeons and doctors can be improved by allowing them to practice virtually and learn from mistakes in a safe, but realistic environment.

Osso VR trains both medical practitioners as well as sales staff in healthcare in the US using Facebook’s Oculus Quest platform. Karuna Labs in the US is using the VR technology to treat chronic pain using its system called ‘Virtual Embodiment Training’ that retrains how the brain responds to pain through neuroplasticity to rewire perceptions and responses to pain.

“Over time, this learning process slowly returns the neurons to normal and pain diminishes. Karuna’s software uses virtual reality to create neuroplastic changes by placing the patient in an environment where they increase movement while blocking pain signals," said physical therapist, Karuna, Kris Beebe in a company blog.

"The brain ties movement with different experiences and not to pain. This process is key to changing the perception of pain and the movement associated with it as non-threatening.”

Facebook takes VR from gaming to business

In addition, VR presents a way to onboard new staff into an organisation, for processes and workplace regulations, but to help immerse them into the organisation’s culture. It’s an opportunity to more quickly help new staff feel a part of the organisation and also understand how the company relates to its customers, particularly when they’re in the public.

Facebook has developed an enterprise business around its Oculus VR platform, which the social media giant bought in 2014 for US$3 billion. At a recent Sydney conference showcasing its enterprise social media platform, Workplace, it also showed off its VR business.

The platform has been used by a range of businesses as varied as healthcare, logistics and food production.

Facebook lists immersive training, data visualisation, collaboration and meetings, product showcase, industrial design and design reviews among the range of business applications for its VR platform.

“Organisations are using Oculus VR headsets to increase productivity, reduce training costs, enhance collaboration, and more,” the company said.

Among the Facebook VR technology line-up are the high-end Oculus Rift S, powered by a computer and designed for immersive gaming and entertainment; the Oculus Quest, an all-in-one VR headset that doesn’t need a computer and the Oculus Go, also an all-in-one headset designed for viewing 3D content.

As part of its Workplace showcase, Facebook showed how its VR platform has been used by logistics and shipping business, DHL, to visualise its packing and shipping stations. There were also a number of training examples, such as Johnson & Johnson Institute, which is training surgeons more efficiently via VR. A third  is Farmers Insurance, which is using VR to train insurance claims staff to provide better customer service, while a fourth is ExonMobile, which trains staff using VR while keeping them safe and potentially save lives.

“At DHL, we ship around 5 million shipments a week and to do that we have to build unit load devices and this is where VR is invaluable," SVP, group certified initiative and global head of CIS, DHL Express, Rick Jackson said in a video." We can send people into an immersive world and they can be safe and they can go through the process of building the unit load device."

Everything is a screen

Those like Tietzel, who work in VR everyday, see a time when we won’t talk about the technology by which we access something as separate to the platform.

“ We will have different shared spaces and the way we interact with these technologies will be seamless," he predicted. "We won’t think about how we access, it’ll just be overlayed into our lives or something we delve into. We’ll be able to access multiple environments and multiple streams of information in a way that we don’t appreciate right now.”

Ultimately, we may be heading towards the ultimate paradox whereby computing, which started out on a screen, will become immersive and ubiquitous. We do away with the need for screens in and of themselves, yet paradoxically everything around us may convey information the way a screen does. There will be no more screens, but screens will be everywhere.

“I may be watching TV, but I may also have my stock information projected onto it or the window that I look out to my garden may have information about my plant needing water or information about gardening specials from Bunnings right now," Tietzel added.  "These will be additional pieces of information that won’t require us to focus on doing one specific thing because we will not have screens anymore, this is the end of screens."

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 


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