VR Business Applications: 12 Companies Using Virtual Reality Innovatively
Virtual reality may seem like a far-flung idea, but it's not just a future concept — it's already heavily used. Today's top tech companies recognize the exciting potential of VR to revolutionize the consumer experience. Beyond this, VR is heavily used in real estate, healthcare, and, of course, video games.
From tech titans to vehicle manufacturers and even sports leagues, VR promises to produce immersive experiences for employees and customers in every sector. A few of today's most impressive VR companies — and their exciting initiatives — are highlighted below:
Blending the best of virtual and augmented reality, Apple is expected to launch a headset and smart glasses in the near future. Already, a research unit has hundreds of the company's most talented employees investigating the best ways to integrate emerging VR and AR opportunities into future products. This effort will benefit from Apple's recent acquisition of multiple VR and AR companies.
An upcoming virtual reality headset from Apple will incorporate micro-OLED displays to provide an immersive viewing experience. Spatial audio technology will help the headset achieve an experience echoing surround sound. Numerous cameras will be built into the headset to track hand gestures. The headset will have its own App Store, as well as a dedicated operating system.
From mechanic feedback to astronaut training, Boeing uses VR extensively to support a variety of tech-forward initiatives. For example, the corporation relied on VR to prep for building the 737 MAX 10, with mechanics taking virtual tours of the landing gear.
More recently, Finland-based VR headset manufacturer Varjo has teamed up with Boeing to train astronauts via the Starliner program. With this VR system, astronauts no longer need to visit fixed-site simulators. Instead, they can rehearse entire missions (including pre-launch, undocking, and more) from remote locations.
VR doesn't need to be expensive, as evidenced by Google Cardboard. This system uses a standard smartphone to create VR viewed through a cardboard device. Amazingly, devices can be homemade or purchased for as little as 10 dollars.
Another exciting development: Google has teamed up with Oculus to give users the chance to explore the world in VR via Google Earth. This gives users the chance to experience all kinds of global delights from the comfort of home.
This tech startup gained a strong following after announcing the Magic Leap 1 AR headset in 2017. The device utilizes a clip-on computer tethered to the headset to deliver a wide assortment of apps and games. Combined with a remote control, this setup is unique to Magic Leap. While Magic Leap 1 was geared towards consumers, the upcoming Magic Leap 2 will take on the role of an enterprise device.
Microsoft recently acquired Activision Blizzard in a likely bid to improve its influence in the gaming world. While many people are speculating what this might mean for the Metaverse, it's already clear that Microsoft has big plans for conquering VR. This is evident based on the company's release of the HoloLens, which brings a vibrant virtual experience to numerous workplace and academic settings.
The National Basketball Association has teamed up with Oculus to give fans a courtside seat through the power of VR. Consumers with an NBA League Pass subscription can utilize their Oculus headsets to watch select NBA games in a whole new way. Fans unable to attend the game in person can do the next best thing and experience it up close and personal in VR.
NVIDIA's graphics cards are in high demand, primarily because they give PCs the horsepower needed to experience VR with the utmost graphical fidelity. Meanwhile, NVIDIA is assisting developers by offering NVIDIA VRWorks — a suite of tools that allow for the creation of applications and games that must be seen to be believed.
Samsung's approach to VR? Adopting a plug-and-play method with its Gear VR headset. Under this approach, it's possible to attach a compatible Samsung phone to the front of the device. Powered by Oculus, this device represented a major step forward when it was first introduced.
Despite the continued praise for the Gear VR, Samsung has been accused of falling behind its top tech competitors. That may change with the recent investment in DigiLens, which promises to take smart glasses far beyond their current capabilities.
The announcement of PlayStation VR 2 proves that Sony is into the virtual reality business for the long run. New features like headset feedback will allow players to feel the world around them like never before. It's a technology that could be used in the future for applications such as virtual personal training and physical therapy.
From ergonomics to safety, Toyota has discovered a variety of compelling applications for VR in the automotive space. For example, the car company has harnessed the power of the Oculus Rift to promote safer driving among teens, who can learn about the dangers of distracted driving while using simulators.
VR is also making waves in the vehicle manufacturing process. Specifically, Toyota has harnessed the power of the 3D creation tool Unreal Engine to boost ergonomics evaluation processes. This efficient means of concept testing reduces the need for costly and time-intensive mockups.
Initially developed for fighter pilots, Surgical Theater's VR simulation platform holds great promise in the health care sector. Already, the use of VR is critical for examining detailed digital brain models. The insight gained from this allows surgeons to more strategically select the best tools and procedures for any given situation. Additionally, this is a great option for educating patients and their families about upcoming procedures.
Walmart might not seem like an influential force in the cutting-edge world of VR, but the big-box retailer holds huge ambitions for integrating both VR and AR into both shopper and employee experiences. Oculus remains an emphasis for VR training, producing huge improvements in test scores while also helping Walmart scout employees for potential middle-management promotions.