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Virtual reality: seeing the world differently in 2016

by Alyson Edmunds: Mobility Expert at Telefónica UK

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to see the latest virtual reality (VR) technology in action. And I have to say, it really captured my imagination.

Admittedly we’re only a couple of months in, but 2016 seems to be the year for VR with a number of VR headsets launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month.  People are really starting to embrace it and get excited about the possibilities:

“Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg says a new computing platform comes around every 10 years. This year, he says, the next one arrives: virtual reality. Mr. Zuckerberg is trying to will that prediction into reality with Oculus VR, a Facebook subsidiary that in March begins shipping its $600 virtual-reality headsets, dubbed the Rift.”[1]

Of course, other VR kit is available such as the Samsung Gear VR (also developed in conjunction with Oculus) and the Google Cardboard viewers (over 5 million have been sold!). LG have also announced a VR headset as an add-on for their G5 modular handset. The great thing about all these examples is that they work with smartphones. So, for a relatively small investment, it’s a toe in the water for consumers to discover the potential of VR.

So what about VR in the business environment?

Well, Thomas Cook have produced the Thomas Cook 360 Holiday app. The immersive VR app showcases their Egyptian holidays in a way that has never been done in the travel industry before. It provides the in-depth view their customers are seeking so they can make confident purchasing decisions. After taking a look at what’s available, I think I might need a holiday…

Another example is Savills estate agency who produced VR tours to bring properties to life when potential buyers can’t visit in person. First, the property is filmed using laser scanning and 360 degree capture. It then goes into post-production to track the user’s head movements and give the illusion of being in a 3D space. Plus, for architects, property agents and facilities management companies, the ability to see the ‘scale of a space’ is a real VR advantage and something CAD drawings or photos just can’t match. Indeed Royal Caribbean Cruise Liners use VR as a tool to help design the inside of their ships to make the best use of space.

It seems to me that the possibilities for VR in business are endless and I can’t wait to see what other use cases will appear. If you’re considering using VR in 2016 it would be great to hear from you @alyfairburn


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