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The topic everyone seems to be talking about these days is the future of virtual reality. With the release of the first batch of the highly anticipated Oculus Rift on March 28th, we’ve officially entered the age of virtual reality, which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claims will soon become a part of the daily lives of billions of people worldwide.

Much of the excitement surrounding this initial wave of virtual reality is focused on gaming and entertainment applications, however, VR is quickly gaining attention for the unique possibilities it represents for the business world. In fact, many industries have already put VR to work and seen some amazing results. Here are 5 ways businesses can use VR to boost their bottom line.

Create virtual product prototypes

Creating prototypes has always been an expensive, yet essential, part of bringing any new product to market. In the case of automotive manufacturers, considerable resources are spent constructing scale and full-sized clay models of their vehicles to allow engineers and designers a chance to visualize the product and test the various vehicle designs. However, VR can provide a cheaper, and more effective way to prototype these designs before committing to them to production.

Ford has already begun to use VR in it’s Immersion Lab to to inspect cars from the customer’s point of view before they have physical prototypes. The entire car, inside and out, is rendered virtually in high-definition, and different options can be instantly switched out to test various configurations. Additionally, testers are given realistic tools such as digital ‘flashlights’ to view the car under varied circumstances. In addition to being significantly cheaper than constructing physical prototypes, virtual prototyping is much faster and allows for a greater degree of accuracy than traditional methods.

Engineer products virtually

Virtual reality is adding another dimension to engineering and manufacturing. Engineers at companies like John Deere, Lockheed Martin, and Rolls Royce are making use of virtual reality to create digital blueprints of their products. Engineers can strap on a headset and actually interact with the exact components they’re working on. And not only that, various teams around the world can then plug in and inhabit the same ‘virtual space’ for easy collaboration.

At the same time, virtual reality is being used to improve manufacturing processes as well. It’s been found that construction teams following virtual or augmented reality directions were 90% more accurate than teams completing the same task using printed or written directions for their first build of a product. Not only did the quality of the builds improve, but their efficiency improved by 30% as well. On a large scale, this could mean significant time savings, and less waste.

Offer virtual tours

One industry where virtual reality has been particularly useful is real estate. Companies are using VR to offer virtual tours of various properties to customers who either aren’t in the same location, or who would like to see a number of different properties without spending time visiting each one personally. Additionally, real estate developers and architects are building virtual models of planned projects to seek investment, and lock in presales of a building before it’s completed as has recently happened with a four-story apartment building in Queens, New York.

Tourism companies are also getting on the virtual reality train by allowing potential clients to explore exotic places, and view potential vacation locations in full 3D. Imagine taking a digital tour of the Colosseum, or Yosemite Park, and inspecting your accommodations before booking a trip to the real place.

Give customers a closer look

The potential for companies to utilize virtual reality for their sales and marketing is huge. Auto manufacturers are now using virtual reality to allow customers to visualize their dream car. They can customize it according to their preferences, walk around the exterior and inspect it from all angles, then can climb inside and view the interior in full detail, and even interact with the various features. Other companies, such as IKEA, are also getting in early on virtual reality, allowing customers to digitally furnish their homes, and try out various items before buying them.

Abi Mandelbaum, CEO and co-founder of YouVisit, a virtual reality creation platform, said,  “Virtual reality can allow current and potential customers to explore a product before they commit to making a purchase. Furthermore, VR completely immerses customers, helping place a product directly into their (virtual) hands or empowering viewers to see a product in action.”

Train new employees

Training new employees properly is an important concern for many companies, especially in more technical industries or where precision, accuracy, and safety are a concern. Taking time to personally train employees individually is a time consuming task for the person doing the training, and uses valuable resources for the company. At the same time, standardized methods such as written or video training are not nearly as effective due to their low engagement.

Many companies, however, are finding success using VR to train new employees. It’s interactive, and lets trainees ‘learn by doing’ by allowing them to perform the same tasks that they’ll be performing on the job without risking valuable machinery, materials, or safety. It also allows companies to produce one standard course to ensure uniform training among all new hires, without having to dedicate personnel to the task.

The future benefits of VR in industries

Because of the relative newness of this technology, no one can be exactly sure how widespread it will become. However, it seems that new uses and applications are being thought of every day in all kinds of industries from automotive and manufacturing fields, to pharmaceuticals and medicine, and education and learning. Companies are already using virtual reality to:

  • Bring products to market faster and cheaper
  • Design and manufacture products in more detail, in less time.
  • Add convenience to customers by allowing them to interact with products prior to purchase without having to visit a store, or even leave their home.
  • Simplify and ensure uniform training of employees during the company on-boarding process.

So far, these benefits have mostly been limited to large corporations, however, given three to five years, this technology will most likely be an indispensable part of any small business, and RenderThat is on the cutting edge of making it happen. Get in contact now to find out how your company can use virtual reality to boost its bottom line.