The tech world can’t stop talking about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Thanks to the latest wearable tech products, VR and AR are more accessible than ever.
But though often interchanged, VR and AR are different concepts. VR immerses you in a digital environment you interact with. In AR, you still see the real world along with virtual elements added to it.
Both VR and AR are popular in video games, but Cathy Hackl – a VR + AR influencer and founder of Latin@s in VR – believes they’ll soon be used for other purposes, including deeper social connections and fully immersive experiences. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes the way we interact with computers.
Though VR’s current primary use is gaming, it has significant potential for business use. Top global tech companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Google, IBM, HP, Intel and Foxconn have already invested in VR.
Facebook isn’t far behind. Aside from buying the VR headset Oculus Rift, the social media giant is also launching its own VR app soon. Once it’s rolled out, VR and AR are expected to become mainstream. But this trickle-down effect has already begun, with Sony’s PlayStation VR along with tools like wireless gaming headsets.
VR technology is not expensive. Highly affordable headsets are readily available, so businesses shouldn’t be afraid to venture into the VR world.
It’s easy to incorporate VR into business. For inspiration, observe the way people are using it. Customize their ideas to appeal to your target audience.
You can also check out other companies that already adopted VR. One Caring Team created Aloha VR to help seniors combat loneliness; Elle Magazine partnered with HuffPost RYOT to launch a VR experience for their November issue; Zumba tapped YouVisit to deliver a 360-degree video of a dance class, and Osso VR developed a surgical simulator to train surgeons.
To get you started, try out Unity, a software solution that lets you create 3D environments. It’s simple enough to use even with no coding experience, so you can play around with it to have a better understanding of VR. A paid version is available but try the free version first.
Businesses will be using VR sooner than you think. If you want an edge, learn it now and keep an eye on how it evolves. VR will change as it develops different uses, so it’s best to follow its progress.
As a pioneer in immersive marketing, Emmy-nominated broadcaster Cathy Hackl is regarded as one of the biggest VR + AR influencers. She's an active contributor to VR Scout, a major site for VR industry news. She also founded Latin@s in VR, a thriving online community that aims to connect and empower Latinos in VR and AR spaces.