December 8, 2023

From the looks of it, virtual reality has use cases across industries, and yours likely is one of them. 

Virtual reality (VR) has been dubbed the future of education, corporate training, gaming, shopping and so much more. If reports are to be believed, VR is set to change the tech landscape for good. Clearly then, VR is here to stay, and it is worth it. 

The pandemic expedited the growth of new technologies, with VR being one of the most highly-anticipated and adopted ones. In fact, reports found that VR used in businesses is set to grow in value from US$829 million in 2018 to US$4.26 billion in 2023. After all, it is proving effective in workplace training, medicine and more. 

So, what is it about VR that makes it investment-worthy in the coming years?

Building better brand experiences

That customer experience is at the heart of business success is evident in the current environment. In 2022, companies spent over US$640 billion on customer experience technologies. This is money well spent, as a McKinsey report found that investing in customer experiences can boost sales revenues and profitability. 

VR helps businesses create that memorable experience by emphasizing personalization and tailored experiences that customers value. For instance, Swiss furniture giant IKEA has a VR app, IKEA Place, that allows users to virtually understand what a sofa or chair would look like in their homes before they purchase it. 

Nurturing mental health

Among the many dire consequences of Covid-19, a noteworthy one is its impact on mental health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide increased by 25 percent due to the pandemic. VR can help in this regard, too. 

Psychological research has revealed that VR can aid in alleviating social anxiety, chronic pain and even Alzheimer’s disease, which has no cure yet. Given the rise of mental health concerns and people experiencing greater stress due to economic and other circumstances, VR is set to play a crucial role in helping people and assisting therapists do so as well. 

US-based startup Limbix, Inc., for instance, includes VR content that helps treat problems, including alcoholism, claustrophobia, and teenage depression. Another VR startup Amelia (previously Psious) offers treatments for eating disorders, among others.

Improving cybersecurity

Recent cybersecurity breaches—from Medibank experiencing a customer data breach to the Costa Rican government’s finance department falling prey to Russian hackers—have made one thing clear: the state of cybersecurity in the world is laughable. And something needs to be done urgently. VR, if used correctly, can be used to train professionals better when it comes to dealing with such hacks. It can also be used to spread awareness about the various kinds of cyberattacks. 

That said, it can also have the opposite effect. Since VR involves the use of headsets and other such tech, it can give hackers access to finger-tracking and eye-tracking, which can in turn lead to the misuse or theft of one’s personal information. The device might scan your room, your retina, your surroundings and even your family members’ faces. You never know who is on the other side of the VR you are interacting with, and that can potentially pose a lot of threats.

Exploring the planet

Yes, VR is great for gaming, shopping, therapy, cybersecurity and more. However, zoom out, and you find that perhaps it can also help explain the various mysteries hidden within the planet. For instance, researchers can work together using KeckCAVES, a software developed by scientists at the University of California, Davis. KeckCAVES are single-person environments using large screens, cameras and projectors to develop a collaborative and immersive space where users can interact—move, rotate, color, etc.— with 3D data in real time. In so doing, they will all explore the planet, brainstorming and helping us understand the world better. 

No matter what field you are in or your interests and requirements, there is probably a use case for VR that can enhance your journey. From the looks of it, VR is definitely a worthy investment for the coming year. But perhaps in the years that follow, this technology will be replaced by mixed reality technologies, giving you the best of the various realities that exist today.

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