VR: A force for good?

Virtual reality is changing the face of business in immersive new ways. Reece Webb finds out how the disruptive technology is revolutionising the work experience and how VR can be used for good in the B2B world.

Virtual reality is changing the face of business in immersive new ways. Reece Webb finds out how the disruptive technology is revolutionising the work experience and how VR can be used for good in the B2B world.  quickly becoming a staple in all areas where digital media can be found, and the commercial AV world is proving to be an ideal breeding ground for the immersive technology that could redefine how work is experienced and conducted across the entire industry. 

Inavate is no stranger to exploring the role that VR has to play, from medical and nuclear control room training to fire forensics, the potential for VR technology use in the industry is expanding. At a time when the world seems shut away with social distancing, the time to consider VR technologies for business is now according to Katie Goode, creative director for UK based games development company, Triangular Pixels. 

Triangular Pixels has extensive experience working with B2B clients interested in the adoption of VR, collaborating with an architectural company to produce a VR experience at an industry event that puts visitors inside a newly developed building in a virtual space. 

Goode explained: “They realised the power of VR, being able to put someone inside the building they’ve made to experience the scale of it. You can imagine how popular that experience was and now they can offer that service to their clients, walking around future properties in virtual reality.”

Goode helped to found Triangular Pixels, going on to work on BAFTA nominated titles such as ‘Unseen Diplomacy’ with a focus on using ‘games for good’ as Goode clarified: “I looked at how we can use game developers in a business to business or business to consumer case, such as education therapy which can be used for good. When I started to get hands on with virtual reality, it was obvious that it has more applications than just gaming.

“Some headsets can track and record eye movements which can be used for training purposes or can be used by HR to see how well employees are focusing on the task at hand, for example.”

VR has been emerging in the commercial industry for a variety of applications, with some sectors being quicker to adopt the technology than others. Goode believes that the key accelerant to the uptake of the new technology is all down to trust.

Goode: “After the rise and fall of 3D TV, which had a lot of press excitement, users got their hands on it and realised that it wasn’t as hot as people said it was and there was a lot of concern that VR was the same way because the technology is advertised as super immersive and realistic, VR is all of those things. 

“The only way that the general public has been able to trust the technology is by getting their hands on the hardware and realising that the technology is actually immersive, it’s not just marketing. In the same way that we use games to encourage people to stay active, VR mixes that with a feeling of immersion and realism, you become so much more involved in what you are doing. Games have always pushed computing technology forwards through graphic cards and sound cards.”

"VR is the most interesting creativespace at the moment. There arestill so many unknowns in termsof how we interact, what betterways there are of doing things." - Katie Goode, Triangular PixelsKatie
RTX technology stands out as a key development in graphics cards that could greatly advance the use of VR for commercial spaces. Goode clarified: “This technology is allowing for some interesting applications such as being able to render games in a completely different way by tracing and that makes a really physical, realistic looking thing. That is going to be really useful and will be essential for making any training or educational experience.” 

Privacy is a central issue to businesses relying more and more heavily on codecs and cloud-based applications than ever before. Security for both devices and software is becoming a hot button issue and VR is no exception, especially with ‘inside out’ positional tracking for head mounted displays. 

Goode said: “Hardware manufacturers will have their own privacy policies. At the moment, the Oculus headset requires a personal Facebook account to be used online. It has to be a personal Facebook account as you cannot use a business account.

“The inside out headsets do have cameras, so if you are concerned about privacy then you will be probably be looking at HTC and Valve headsets as they do not use any inside out cameras to track and coordinate where they are in the world. If you are a business that is interested in a certain device, it’s definitely worth talking to the hardware manufacturers about security concerns as some companies are putting formal programmes in place for business users.”

Goode added: “Oculus has its Oculus Business team which is looking into how they can use hardware for businesses rather than just gaming. HTC also have an enterprise edition which comes with enterprise support, making sure that the data that is produced is private to the companies. It’s clear that manufacturers are pivoting.”

The impact of COVID-19 globally has played a part in pushing business towards VR focused applications. In a world where social distancing will be a part of our working and personal lives for the foreseeable future, VR could provide an avenue for in-depth training and collaboration whilst adhering to social restrictions as Goode explained: “Because we’ve got physical limitations, people can’t travel at the moment. VR allows you to be anywhere and do the things you need to do without risk.”

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic could in fact accelerate the adoption of VR in business to business applications, with car manufacturers adopting the technology for car design as well as other marketing, training, designing and collaboration applications. 

Goode: “People who are working together don’t have to be in the same physical space, they can be remote and see each other’s virtual faces, passing objects between each other, design things such as virtual cars and sit in the same virtual vehicle that they are designing.” 

Goode closes: “The reason why we are doing this is because VR is the most interesting creative space at the moment. There are still so many unknowns in terms of how we interact, what better ways there are of doing things. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people owning and using VR headsets, now the headset manufacturers themselves are identifying use cases for business.” 

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