Mark Zuckerberg has some grand ideas about the near and long-term future of virtual reality. And for good reason, Facebook invested $2 billion into the technology. He recently shared some thoughts about how he expects the gaming community to embrace the platform, with much bigger opportunities to follow.
Beyond gaming, the most popular use for VR right now is the virtual tour. In fact, you may have experienced a virtual tour already. From Marriott’s in-room VR service, to Google’s Expeditions program that brings virtual field trips to schools, VR tours are popping up everywhere immersing consumers into the world of virtual content. At Primacy, we created a virtual tour app for Regis University that takes students on a full campus visit without having to leave their high school auditorium. They can fly over campus or feel like one of the team during basketball practice. Regis’ admissions counselors are bringing the app to high schools across the country, and the response to it has been overwhelmingly positive.
So, what’s the future of VR beyond a tour? Many say that the possibilities are endless, but unless you’re entrenched in the latest news and trends, the possibilities are easy to overlook. However, our emerging tech, media and creative teams have been exploring new opportunities for VR and have come up with some applications that’ll take VR beyond the tour as it becomes more mainstream.
Escape Into Another World
Sometimes it’s nice to get away, even when it’s seemingly impossible. VR videos create the opportunity for viewers to escape their surroundings by simply placing on the headset. This ability to 'transport' into another world can be especially useful in healthcare settings allowing patients to escape into another environment. Think about it, if you were stuck in a hospital room wouldn't you love to feel like you were elsewhere? Hiking through the mountains or sitting on a beach, listening to the waves can bring tranquility to an otherwise uncomfortable setting. VR experiences can certainly help strengthen that patient care relationship.3
We don’t know what the future may hold, all we can do it prepare for it as best we can. And that's where VR experiences come in. Virtual Reality acts as a simulation of an environment; and for times when that may be unknown-- providing an example of the space may bring ease to the viewer. In healthcare, Children’s hospitals can use VR to familiarize their patients and families with the room and procedure they may be considering undergoing to make the patient more comfortable. Or at the DMV, instructors can use VR simulations to teach and prepare student drivers for their license test. Even real estate agents can use VR videos to show clients their properties during other seasons to help make a sale. The possibilities to provide insights are endless.
Train with the Masters
Everyone learns in their own way and for many visual learners, virtual reality is the perfect tool. Actually seeing things as they are in their natural environment can be much more educational than a photo in a textbook. As a viewer, you feel like the invisible apprentice and learn from the masters—Shadow an engineer and see what their typical days are like, watch a world-class surgeon perform a rare medical procedure from across the planet, or collaborate with fellow architects and designers in real-time on an on-going project.
Museums and historical locations can utilize VR to make history come alive. Imagine standing in the ballroom in an 18th century English castle and putting on a VR headset that suddenly transports you back in time to an elegant party with music and dancers surrounding you in that very same ballroom. It's the real life Downton Abbey experience. In addition to visiting historical sites, Google developed their Expeditions program to help teachers take their classes on immersive virtual journeys bringing their lessons to life. These expeditions are guided tours of places school buses can't go- like seeing the seven Wonders of the World without a single flight. Go back to ancient Greece and visit the Coliseum, learn how the Pyramids were built, or see what life is like above the Arctic Circle.
Doctors and trainers can offer personalized treatment and training in an immersive environment. VR offers simulation in controllable, multisensory, naturalistic environments which can be used to diagnose and treat psychological conditions that cause patients difficulty. The army has been using a form of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) to help treat soldiers who return with PTSD. With this tool, doctors can work with patients with all types of conditions from phobias to autism providing them with individualized attention and treatment.
There’s that old saying, “you can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” The New York Times and other news outlets are starting to use virtual reality to distribute the news and give a more unbiased view of the world. The United Nations created an app for GearVR called Clouds over Sidra, which follows the life of a Syrian refugee. By dropping viewers into these situations, these institutions can elicit empathy and potentially gain funding through the experience. The possibilities for VR are growing, and the key is to have an on-going dialogue about where and how to use it. If you’re ready to join the conversation and talk about how you can bring VR to life in your organization, be sure to reach out and contact us.