Virtual reality has burst onto the stage, and because of how well-supported it has become as a hardware solution, its practical applications—from enterprise training to video games—are expanding.
VR is a powerful tool for a multitude of industries and even consumers. But what’s its most impressive application thus far? Below, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council share their thoughts.
1. Real-Time Medical Education
Real-time medical education through projects such as Immertec—in which physicians can aid and train, in real time, during an active surgery—is by far the most valuable use of VR that has real-world impact. But many other examples exist within healthcare, such as VR gamification of medical rehabilitation as done by Verapy and others. The future of medicine will be the ability to practice everywhere through VR. – José Morey, Liberty BioSecurity
2. Improved Patient Experiences
We are seeing some incredible uses for virtual reality in healthcare. It is being used for pain management and to ease anxiety in patients with severe and chronic conditions. It is also being used to help show providers what patients experience (e.g., during a seizure) to create more empathy and understanding. These uses could dramatically improve the patient experience in so many ways. – Jim Higgins, Solutionreach
3. Healing Paralyzed Patients
Virtual reality is highly effective for learning because it writes to our brains like a real experience or memory. VR has countless uses, but one inspiring example is helping paralyzed patients heal. In one study, a VR program helped patients regain movement and sensation, demonstrating just how advanced this medium is compared to prior methods as it relates to how our brains respond to it. – Kyle Jackson, Talespin
4. Helping People Understand Their Emotions
The best experience I’ve ever seen with VR was in helping people understand what they are afraid of. Usually, VR can help people return to situations that could not be replicated otherwise, understand their fears and really beat them. The fact of how real VR could be makes it possible. I do believe that it’s an amazing thing that was impossible before VR. – Ivan Guzenko, SmartyAds Inc.
5. Handling Of Dangerous Materials
We’re already seeing VR in use in manufacturing and energy production, where technicians can make use of VR, integrated with machines, like Tony Stark in Iron Man. They can use VR to visualize how to move dangerous radioactive or contaminated materials around using robot “hands”—with a far lower risk of an accident. – Vaclav Vincalek, Pacific Coast Information Systems (PCIS) Ltd.
6. Remote Training In The Manufacturing Industry
VR is becoming a competitive advantage for manufacturing services providers. Remote training applications help engineers as companies add locations and scale advanced electronics manufacturing technologies. Subject-matter experts across the enterprise can deliver training in virtual manufacturing classrooms quickly, efficiently, cost-effectively and with minimal disruption to operations. – Dan Gamota, Jabil, Inc.
7. Visualizing Complex Product Configurations
I’ve seen VR and/or mixed reality used in industrial settings to help visualize complex configurations of manufactured items in real space. Business-to-business organizations that sell big, complex products need to be able to ensure the configuration meets customer needs and to help get to the right configuration quickly and easily to remove friction in the sales process. It’s all about digitally transforming the sales process. – Geoff Webb, PROS
8. Construction Site Collaboration
The coolest new VR (or mixed reality) I’ve seen lately is Trimble’s new Microsoft Hololens 2-based tool combined with their Trimble Connect software. It allows multiple people to collaborate in a construction job on-site, during actual construction, with plans overlaid onto the unfinished project site. It’s incorporated into a hardhat! You can use it during design phases, too. – Mitchell Sowards, ENTRUST Technology
9. Training Frontline Workers In Safe Environments
My company recently added compatibility with Oculus for Business. Organizations can onboard, configure and manage Oculus’ VR headsets, Oculus Quest and Oculus Go, as part of their established unified endpoint management infrastructure. One of our customers, a utility in the U.S., uses VR devices to train frontline workers in safe environments to troubleshoot faulty equipment. – Simon Biddiscombe, MobileIron
10. Social Change
VR is a powerful tool to help evoke empathy. The United Nations Virtual Reality Initiative is giving prominent decision-makers, business leaders and citizens entirely new insights into the world’s most pressing problems by pushing the bounds of empathy. By amplifying the voices of those unheard, UNVR is bringing a deeper level of understanding of the intricate issues our planet faces. – Paul Polizzotto, Givewith
11. Virtual Exhibitions And Entertainment
VR is useful for different kinds of training indeed! But my choice is the use of VR for entertainment, such as for remote showings of places—like virtual visits to museums and exhibitions. – Boris Kontsevoi, Intetics Inc.
12. Gamifying Fitness
VR has enormous mainstream potential, but its isolated gameplay makes it challenging from a consumer perspective. Physically intensive games like Box VR, Beat Saber and Audica work because so many people exercise alone. Like wearables, they gamify fitness in dynamic and insanely fun ways. I’m looking forward to VR/wearable integrations that will make the benefits even more tangible. – Luke Freiler, Centercode
13. Mission Training
Special operations—especially direct action missions—are characterized by achieving dominance through surprise, speed and violence of action in highly dynamic environments. Often, the smallest misstep can be fatal in these environments. VR-assisted “after-action reports” allow each team member to replay training missions using video taken from a 360-degree video camera. – Michael Thiessmeier, Enjoy Technology
14. Business Cards And Promotional Items
The best way for a VR company to show its product is to start using it themselves. I once saw a VR business card that was very impressive and prompted me to check the business out. The possibilities were limitless. The same concept could be used for business promotions such as pamphlets, brochures and promotional items. – Afshin Doust, Advanced Intelligent Systems Inc.
15. A Computing Platform
The biggest use cases today are in the military, education and gaming. However, as 5G evolves, it will proliferate into many areas. Having said that, I believe VR needs to move beyond devices and content; i.e., it should be used as a computing platform. Think about first-generation apps run on PCs. Then came the internet, then mobile—hence, a fourth-generation platform is where the bang for the buck is. – Nitin Kumar, Appnomic Systems Inc.