Earlier in February, some of the biggest names in the VR industry came together to discuss how the technology will continue to evolve. Virtual Reality Evolution filled the day with content as experts discussed how businesses can incorporate VR into their strategies and examined the uses of VR in the commercial landscape.
While VR has been mainly associated with gaming, its potential has seen it move through a variety of different verticals including:
- Design & Engineering
- Sports Streaming
- Visualisations & Simulations
- Web VR
The event assembled over 25 keynote speakers and panellists from companies who had already used VR to pave the way in their industries including: HTC Vive, The Guardian and Microsoft.
The talks were varied and covered a vast range of topics:
- ‘Turning Journalism into VR’ by Francesca Panetta, Executive Director of VR at The Guardian. She discussed how journalists were engaging with VR and how the news agency itself is also looking to build upon their award-winning first VR project, ‘6x9 a virtual experience of solitary confinement.’
- ‘Microsoft Lens: The Path to Mixed Reality’ saw Leila Martine, Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft explain how the HoloLens is paving the way for mixed reality and how it can transform businesses such as architecture, training and education.
- ‘The Real Impact of VR: Saving & Changing Lives’ in which a panel of experts from NBC, EBU and Sheffield international Documentary Festival. The discussion touched upon how VR was being utilised throughout healthcare and education, training students in best practices, before introducing the audience to the latest methodologies.
The talks all had one theme in common, the excitement around VR is well placed. The event showed that VR is made for more than just gaming as it is already revolutionising sectors such education and retail.
As consumers continue to expect more from their experiences, VR offers stores a new revolutionary way to market and sell their products. With remodelled homes now just a headset away and new outfits previewed in a blink of the eye, VR could be a huge driving force when it comes to increasing footfall into shops.
Experiential retail also swiftly became a big part of the consumer experience last year, with Samsung opening a New York store that featured no products, instead pushing experiences. With the sole purpose of hosting events, Samsung was able to drive consumers to their store to take part in experiences that only featured Samsung products. As this new type of retailing continues to grow, VR can help develop more tailored experiences for companies.
2016 may not have been the year for VR to flourish into homes across the world, but it definitely saw the headsets enter into the mainstream. From revolutionising property visits, to helping solve medical problems through simulation before they even exist, VR definitely has the potential and backing to grow into the next big thing in business.
For now, VR is struggling to keep up with analysts’ expectations. Facebook’s Oculus and HTC’s Vive both found their sales drying up after the initial launches, while Sony’s PlayStation VR found sales estimates being cut from 2.6 million units to 745,000.
Currently there is a problem with pricing, while some of these headsets are affordable, they aren’t cheap enough for the mass market. However, this could all change during 2017 as more headsets are set to be released, covering the entire pricing spectrum.