To many people, VR may appear right out of Back to the Future. However, thanks to Samsung, Apple and other technological innovators, it’s rapidly growing into another commonplace technology, right alongside laptops and smartphones. Here are several reasons why you (and your clients) may soon own a virtual headset.

  1. Travel

The burdens of traveling have only worsened over the years, with soaring travel fares, airlines gone wild, and tons of tourists taking Instagram photos instead of embracing the moment. Many have found the most effective stress-free method for seeing the wonders of the world is through VR.

A simple 360° video, a headset, and some earphones are more than enough to fully immerse someone into believing they are standing over the Grand Canyon without the treacherous hike. Moreover, the experience can be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s room without weather concerns, making it an ideal stay-at-home vacation activity.

A virtual college tour of Yale University, including a virtual tour guide, map, and various ways to view the school, including 360s, photos and videos.

Many students find virtual college tours far more convenient than paying for a plane ticket just to see a college campus. These tours are often equipped with a virtual tour guide as well, replicating what the school regularly hosts. YouVisit.com, a popular virtual campus tour site, claims that “students who experience a YouVisit virtual campus are nearly twice as likely to enroll as those who haven’t [visited the campus at all!]”

Granted, nothing beats the full experience of actually visiting the real location, but VR is definitely a practical alternative for those who desire a quick visit.

 

  1. Education

Textbooks are often the bane of the educational experience, from their ridiculous high prices to the frequent dry presentation of learning material. As many Gen Z students like myself can attest, textbooks are simply “so last generation!” Wouldn’t it be much more fun to watch George Washington win the Battle of Yorktown in person?

 

Besides traveling to places that currently exist, like the Great Wall of China, VR can travel to locations that aren’t even available anymore. Students can use VR to revisit historic periods in history or explore 3D models of artifacts they wouldn’t usually have access to.

 

VR can even host museum field trips without parent chaperones or lost students to fuss about. For example, Facebook via Oculus, their VR headset, launched a VR tour of the British Museum, equipped with demos for the public to try. Check it out for yourself here: http://blog.britishmuseum.org/new-virtual-reality-tour-with-oculus/

 

For art fanatics, even legendary painter Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ series has been touched by VR. See how the five different versions of the painting were reunited in one virtual exhibit to enjoy here: http://www.euronews.com/2017/08/16/sunflowers-reunited-van-gogh-works-get-virtual-reality-treatment

 

  1. Medical Uses

If you’re afraid of heights, don’t worry; almost 25% of Americans are as well! However, phobias can often limit people and are challenging to overcome. Fortunately, VR can provide an effective therapy to help people overcome their fears or in some cases, and even ease PTSD.

 

Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) has been used by therapists as a safe tool for their patients to show them a scenario without any risks. In more severe cases, even a bustling city street could revive difficult memories for a former soldier or victim of an attack.

 

By using VR, patients can confront their fears within their headset and not worry about interferences from the outside world. Sometimes, having a universe to yourself is all that is needed.

 

  1. Retail

It’s no surprise that millennials and Gen. Z are slowly but surely killing the retail industry. Amazon and delivery drones are the new way to shop. So, what’s keeping these stores alive? VR and augmented reality (AR) may hold the key.

 

Nowadays, consumers who simply want the product from the store just buy it online. A trip to the store in the modern era is too inconvenient, but what if there was more than just a new item at the store?

In the LEGO store, eager children can hold their desired box underneath a camera, which instantly brings the playset to life. The child gets to see both what can be created and the exciting possibilities, as the people and automobiles in the set also start to move.

The LEGO Digital Box in action, showing a consumer a 3D version of her set

In the coming weeks, we’ll explore in detail of the growing potential of VR and AR in these markets, and what they may look like in the future.