Virtual Reality in business

Describing the experience of being in Virtual Reality (VR) is difficult; it is both surreal and realistic, terrifying and enthralling. The range of possibilities are endless, from floating through a spaceship in zero gravity, fighting off robots on the streets of a city, to creating hand drawn masterpieces from a completely blank environment. The one thing VR can be described as with absolute certainty is memorable.

VR has been hailed as a gamer’s paradise, however it is now starting to be adopted by companies in order to give them a competitive edge in the market. Whether this is car manufacturers giving customers the opportunity to see their custom-built car without the need to manufacture anything, training providers putting trainees in real life situations in safe and cost effective ways, or estate agents providing a means for house hunters to view a property thoroughly before even stepping over the threshold, businesses are finding innovative ways of benefitting from the freedom that VR provides.

The main players in the room scale application of VR, where the user can walk around in the virtual space, are the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. These are dedicated VR hardware setups and provide the most effective movement tracking. There are also cost effective headsets that use mobile phones. These do not track the movement of the user but give a 360-degree environment to look around.

So what does the future hold for VR?  The current hardware is only in its first generation, with improvements and refinements yet to make it to market. Processing power is increasing all the time, which removes some of the barriers for creating virtual worlds. In short, anything is possible in VR; the only pre-requisite is innovative thinking.

 This article was written by Craig Stacey, R & D Associate, CEMET, Faculty of Computing Engineering and Science, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, South Wales.