Interception of Social Media Stream Reveals Virtual Reality Trends from SXSW

by Phylicia Teymer

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This weekend, I listened vicariously via Twitter for the experiences of many who witnessed a variety of virtual reality (#VR) developments and testimonials (so far) at SXSW in Austin, TX. While trending tech topics set to impact the near future, considered by some as The Fourth Transformation – such as Internet of Things (#IOT), Artificial Intelligence (#AI), block chain, drones/robots, and 3-D printing – one topic continues to pique my interest – virtual and augmented reality.

Gone are the days of its consideration as a ‘gamers-only’ technology. Experts estimate this VR/AR market will be worth $120 Billion by 2020. The realization of the possible benefits in harnessing VR/AR capabilities in our schools, workplace, and beyond has only recently began to sink in – and so have the questions which arise from its consideration as a future communication platform.

Below, I’ve listed a few key industries and ways that VR and AR – which puts users in the center of a simulated 3-D experience – will continue to change our lives.

Human Resources

  • Learning & Employee Development – Do you need to learn skills such as how to mediate an employee conflict or how to help a customer repair a specific device? It’s possible with VR. Some companies, such as Home Depot, have already begun using VR to assist its Supply Chain team to design palettes. If you need a way to provide an immersive skill learning experience – VR could be the way to create it for your employees.
  • Interviewing – You may have heard about participating in a video-conference interview, but what if you could be virtually transported into an interview room to meet with a company? It can be done – and could save companies thousands in travel/lodging expenses with VR.

Marketing

Consumer thoughts are conveyed in multiple ways – including your eye and body movements. Our traditional online buying behavior provides a few pieces of information – but with VR (partnered with cognitive capabilities), not only could buyers encounter more personalized and immersive buying experiences – marketers could learn much more about a specific buyer’s behavior – such as their likes, dislikes, must-haves, and what outfits garner the best user response when tried on virtually to their body-type. Personally, I wish this would be made widely available as soon as possible – from both a buyer and marketer stand-point.

Education

With learning skills and procedures – experience is everything. In the medical field, among others, seconds count and precision matters. With VR, medical students and practitioners can learn, rehearse, and simulate life-saving procedures and surgeries through immersive 3-D experiences, which could reduce the amount and cost of using cadavers and save more lives afterward.

Travel

I’ve fantasized about this idea for a while, given that most of the population has limited funds for multiple long-distance vacations and travel. Imagine, being able to not only go on virtual tour of a potential vacation destination before you buy it – but going on mini virtual vacations (or meditations) around the world, learning new languages, and meeting new people, all from the comfort of your home. Expedia has already started to provide early VR experiences, such as their recent option to visit Queenstown. Let’s go.

Fitness

You may have been on a treadmill or elliptical with a TV or a ‘trail system video series’. It’s nice when compared to looking at a wall or out a window, yet that’s fitness 1.0 in our tech era – You are now able to choose multiple locations to go walk/run – and be immersed into a 3-D experience that will respond real-time to your movements in front of your eyes. Holofit has a great start in applying this idea to fitness – although it may take some time for it become more affordable for mass consumers.

Recent studies have shown that VR changes how we perceive and learn about the world around us, particularly spatial, however, as VR continues to evolve and includes more of the body’s senses and movement – the easier it will be to more fully submerge into a virtual reality with enhanced learning capabilities.

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