From real estate to the military to healthcare, startups are developing AR/VR applications across industries.While some still see virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) as technology reserved for hardcore gamers, investors have taken notice of the considerable potential for AR/VR across a variety of industries. Deals to AR/VR startups have increased every year since 2012 and exploded in Q1’17 to hit 80 deals, a 36% jump above the previous deal high set in Q3’16.
As hardware developers make AR and VR headsets more affordable and user-friendly, startups are developing new use cases far beyond gaming – applying AR and VR to everything from marketing and advertising to medicine and healthcare to even space exploration and military training.
How VR+AR incorporated in Top Industries?
The adoption of VR and AR is changing the way consumers interact with the world, and AI and machine learning are allowing businesses to deeply personalize their services.Retail companies are not an exception.
The interest in mixed reality is great, and retail provides a number of exciting possibilities for these new technologies. Technological advancements are catapulting the retail industry forward into an exciting new future. The power of these innovations is reshaping buyer behaviour and the shopping journey.
For instance, a startup based out in California, Named Bold Metrics deploys a VR technology to create “Virtual Maps” of shoppers’ bodies, allowing them to virtually try on clothes in a 3-d environment. Retailers can also use AR/VR technology to help customers access their inventory in more immersive ways. Like this company named “Trillenium r” is also developing real-time immersive shopping, creating the VR stores at headset-wearing consumers will browse in the virtual malls of the future.
Across multiple branches of the military, VR/AR is being used to create large-volume simulation environments – providing an immersive way to train recruits and optimize operations. ScopeAR, for example, uses augmented reality to equip military officials with “computer vision technology” to help with equipment maintenance and repair.
Then there’s mapping and communication: The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is reportedly looking into ways that VR can help government officials digitally capture landscapes during times of crisis – as with war devastation or bombing aftermaths – and share those environments virtually with remote personnel to better plan personnel-deployment and crisis management strategy.
MARKETING & ADVERTISING
Brands are increasingly using VR- and AR-powered campaigns to immerse customers with their product lines and interact with their audiences in unique ways: Boursin, a maker and supplier of soft cheeses, created a virtual reality experiencethat took people “flying” on a journey through a fridge full of treats, while the SyFy TV channel deployed an AR ad campaign in which users pointed smartphone cameras toward physical display ads to see different images pop up on their screens.
As consumer adoption of headsets increases, VR/AR will evolve to become less of a promotional novelty and more of a standard channel for experiential marketing and advertising. OmniVert, for example, provides a “360° Virtual Reality advertising platform” whereby brands, developers, and publishers can monetize and disseminate VR content.
Like the military, police forces are also using AR and VR tools from companies like VirTra to train personnel in simulated scenarios complete with visual, auditory, and physical stimuli (ranging from barking dogs and street noise to the recoil of discharging a weapon). The technologies even enable police forces to escalate or de-escalate trainees’ simulated interactions with individuals inside the virtual training environments, helping learners practice making judgment calls and critical decisions under stress.
Since immersion into a VR training environment elicits physical reactions, AR/VR training may help police forces better understand, manage, and minimize the impact of officer stress in real-life scenarios: A group of University of Alabama researchers are collaborating with law enforcement officials to measure brain waves during VR police training. One of the lead researchers said the work may “improve training of officers and positively affect the hiring process.”
RECRUITING, TALENT MANAGEMENT & HR
With “culture fit” becoming increasingly important to companies of all stripes, VR has hiring and HR potential across practically every industry – providing a new avenue for companies to meet with potential hires and assess their skills in an immersive environment. Lloyds Banking Group recently used virtual reality to assess candidates for its Graduate Leadership Programmes – tasking recruits with solving puzzles in a VR environment to determine whether they display the “strengths and capabilities required of the Group’s future leaders.”
Once consumer adoption of VR devices reaches critical mass, VR-driven HR may benefit candidates just as much as companies. By spending some time in a company’s office virtually during recruitment, for example, individuals will be able to self-assess whether they want to be part of the organization. Once hired, VR may be able to help remote and onsite workers interact more effectively – potentially strengthening team relationships and lowering turnover. Mimesys is one startup applying AR/VR to the remote meeting experience.
MANUFACTURING & LOGISTICS
VR and AR have the potential to be especially useful for those in manufacturing, logistics, and the skilled trades. AR can superimpose holographic images — “objects” — and instructions atop an individual’s real-world perspective, which can be immensely valuable for educating workers to use large machinery or specialized devices.
As an example, AR company Inglobe Technologies displays the relevant areas under the hood of a car for learning engine repair. Similar applications will likely prove highly valuable in the education sector: With the rise of automation potentially eliminating many low-skill positions, AR tools like Inglobe’s will also be useful in preparing graduates for technically skilled and in-demand trade work in areas like welding, plumbing, and electricity systems.
HEALTHCARE & MEDICINE
AR’s educational value also extends to educating patients in the medical setting. FusionTech/Luminate Health Systems provides hospitals with customizable apps for visualizing patient health information in augmented reality (imagine AR replicas of smokers’ lungs or runners’ knees). AccuVein has invented a scanner that projects over skin to shows nurses and doctors where various veins and valves are in a patient’s body; the technology has reportedly been used on more than 10 million patients so far and made finding a vein on the first attempt 3.5x more likely.
As for VR, the applications in healthcare are practically endless, ranging from VR-powered telemedicine to “transportive” elder care. While nursing home residents enjoy travel-by-goggles, companies like Psious are also offering treatment for behavioral and mental health issues through virtual reality immersion therapy.
JOURNALISM & MEDIA DISSEMINATION
Second only to gaming, the media sector has been among the most eager to embrace virtual reality. The New York Times is already a leader in VR-powered storytelling, releasing new visual stories regularly through the NYTVR app. The company distributed a million Google Cardboard headsets to their readers in October 2015 when they first launched the initiative; the same month, CNN also broadcast the first Democratic presidential debate through virtual reality.
Plenty of other media outlets are also looking to use VR to place audiences “inside” their stories. AOL (now owned by Verizon) showed its commitment to VR by purchasing RYOT, a virtual reality production startup, in 2016. Emblematic Group is another startup focused on furthering “immersive journalism” through augmented and virtual reality.
FILM & ENTERTAINMENT
Deploying VR in entertainment eliminates the boundary between a story and its audience, allowing filmmakers to experiment with space and point of view and leading to experiential works that blur the lines between gaming and narrative entertainment. The term “cinematic VR” has emerged to describe these new approaches to storytelling: startups such as Kite & Lightning, Limitless, and Blend Media are working in this area. For example, Kite & Lightning developed Bebylon Battle Royale – a “competitive spectator” experience that debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Sony too is developing a “non-game virtual reality project” based on the TV show Breaking Bad as part of a larger push for virtual reality in mainstream pop culture. AR has yet to infiltrate entertainment to the same extent, but could eventually be used to incorporate the viewer’s reality into a given narrative: A scene from your favorite TV show could take place in your living room, for example, using information sent via a smartphone camera.