Using the past to divine the future of immersive technology
With the launch of the most recent wave of VR headsets, the VR industry began to focus on consumers…with limited success. That limited success raised questions as to the future of VR. But one need only look at VR’s past to understand its present and immediate future. Prior to around 2013, head-mounted displays were used primarily in the military and by companies that could afford to deploy them. After the recent detour into the consumer market (primarily into video games), the market for VR applications in the enterprise space continues to grow as the technology becomes more affordable and accessible for organizations of all sizes.
That is not to say that VR will not ultimately make its way into the consumer space. Every year, we see more progress that points to greater adoption among consumers. But it will still take some time, and will depend on the affordability of the hardware, improvements to optics, and the overall comfort and ease of use of the headsets. While a game like Beat Saber has shown what a successful consumer application can look like, the consumer VR gaming and entertainment market is still waiting for the ‘killer app’ that can drive mass adoption.
Which brings VR back to the enterprise space. Immersive products in healthcare, training, and education are actively being used by corporations, universities, and the military with great success. Why? First, because modern headsets are far more affordable than their predecessors. Second, because it is much easier and cheaper to create believable content. And perhaps most importantly, because VR lends itself perfectly to the needs of training and education. There is a good reason for this. Many training scenarios can be dangerous and costly to reproduce. Immersive computing solves this by offering companies solutions that have what I call the three R’s –– reliable, repeatable, and risk-free.
Take, for example, Lincoln Electric, the world’s leading manufacturer of welding products. Welding is one of those “perfect fits” for immersive technologies in training, as it requires raw materials such as fire and metal that inherently create a dangerous and hazardous training environment. In addition to the high risk, the raw materials are costly. To continuously repeat welding scenarios for training is extremely expensive. Recognizing the high risk and high cost of welding training, Lincoln Electric launched their advanced level virtual reality welding training application, the VRTEX System. Using virtual reality, Lincoln Electric is able to provide reliable, repeatable, and risk-free training. Immersive motion tracking has also allowed them to add a level of deep data to their learning curriculum to accurately measure the progress of each student.
As a group, we ‘technologists’ tend to look forward and divine what the future might need. But in doing so, sometimes we overlook the work that has gone before. For over two decades, innovative enterprises have understood the value of VR and implemented it with great success. Now, with more affordable headsets, better tracking, and easier access to realistic content, even more companies will be able to take advantage of VR in training scenarios (and many other scenarios besides). In time, VR will find its way into the homes of more and more people, but for now, VR’s home is the enterprise.
Author byline: Danielle Burnstein is the senior director of business development at Sixense Enterprises Inc., a leading developer of immersive computing solutions for companies across industries. Danielle joined the Sixense team in 2017 and is focused on finding ways to further expand the practical implementations of VR/AR — not only in assisting companies in bringing successful VR/AR solutions to the market, but in ensuring that those solutions improve lives.
About Blog Writer :
Senior Director of Business Development at Sixense Enterprises Inc.