Virtual reality might seem like a really futuristic idea that doesn’t have much practical business purpose just yet. But that’s no longer the case. More and more businesses are coming up with new and different ways to integrate virtual reality into their businesses in ways that could benefit their customers, clients or even employees.
Abi Mandelbaum, CEO and co-founder of YouVisit, a virtual reality creation platform, said in an email to Small Business Trends, “When a person slides on a VR headset, they’re able to access an immersive environment that surpasses any 2D experience available, empowering the viewer to interact with and explore the available content in any way they choose.”
Since Facebook is preparing to ship out Oculus virtual reality headsets, and other major players like Google are reportedly working on their own versions, it appears that the VR landscape is poised to grow. And small businesses could potentially take advantage. Here are some of the ways virtual reality may be able to benefit your business.
Create Virtual Prototypes of Your Products
Gone are the days where you need to pay for manufacturing just to get an idea of what your product would look like from every angle and how it might work. Instead, you can use virtual reality to create a virtual model of your product and make necessary changes before actually paying for production.
Mandelbaum says, “Model creation in VR, for example, can save companies time and money, as these types of models or prototypes allow viewers to examine a product and make changes without the time or expense of building a physical model.”
Virtually Engineer Designs
For engineers, architects or other professionals whose work includes building or engineering large structures, virtual reality can help to save time and money. Instead of using small models or two-dimensional renderings, you can use immersive, three dimensional technology to design and replicate structures.
Offer Virtual Tours of a Location
One of the biggest ways that virtual reality is impacting the business world is through the use of tours. Say you’re a real estate agent showing houses to potential buyers. Maybe your buyers are in a different state or just don’t want to spend the time going from house to house if they’re not at all interested in that particular style. Using VR can give customers an idea of what the home looks like in a 3D setting, without requiring the user to actually be in the space.
Let Customers See All Angles of a Product
When you’re listing a product for sale that customers don’t necessarily get to physically touch before buying, it’s important to show them as many angles of the product as possible so they can get a feel for what it’s actually like. But with virtual reality, you can give customers who have access to the technology an even better idea of what your product is like.
Mandelbaum says, “Virtual reality can allow current and potential customers to explore a product before they commit to making a purchase. Furthermore, VR completely immerses customers, helping place a product directly into their (virtual) hands or empowering viewers to see a product in action.”
Teach Employees How to Use Expensive Equipment
When training employees, virtual reality can potentially get you started so that your new employees can learn how certain equipment works before actually having to use it, thus minimizing the chances of something going wrong.
Mandelbaum explains, “Using VR for employee training can provide hands-on experience or education for employees through simulations. Ultimately, these VR experiences can help prepare employees for hazardous situations or to instruct them on how to use intricate and expensive machinery, without the risk of damage.”
Give Customers a Taste of Adventure
If you have any sort of tourism or adventure based business, you can use virtual reality to give customers a taste of what they can expect if they visit your attractions. For example, if you have an amusement park and want to get customers’ attention so that they choose to visit, you can offer a short virtual reality version of one or your rides so people can see if they’d like it. Or if you’re trying to get people to visit a resort or campground that offers things like ziplining or white water rafting, you can offer virtual reality versions of those activities.
Create Interactive Games
One of the more conventional ways that you can take advantage of virtual reality platforms is by creating interactive games. If you’re operating a game design or development company, you may be able to design games that are truly interactive so that you can grab the attention of early VR users.
Oculus VR Photo via Shutterstock