Virtual reality: moving on from the home to the workplace

Primarily considered as consumer technology, how is virtual reality beginning to make waves in business?

"The innovative technology used in immersive reality solutions enables such a real-life perception that the education and response level of the trainee can be greatly heightened. Any negative psychological effects could also be improved, by preparing the trainees better with a more accurate vision of what they could experience during military conflict," she said.

McIntyre said the challenges with introducing VR into your business is going to be in developing the software to work with VR - whether that's via a headset like Oculus's or via a smartphone as is the case with Google's Cardboard, which allows you to slip your phone into a slot after building the headset from a single piece of cardboard and use it as a viewfinder.

"It's a difficult challenge to be able to have animations with real world image if you're trying to do all of this over cellular connection or Wi-Fi," he explained. "The lighting differences can also make it difficult to track where corners are etc., so making sure it's properly aligned is really important.

"What companies need to be doing is investing in software development and prototypes for specific applications. Each app or each business use case will need to have its own development programme."

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However, getting the hardware right is also a key concern. Jed Ashforth, a senior game designer with Sony, which is developing its own VR solution called Project Morpheus, said: "Having the processors and equipment to power two high-resolution screens at 60 frames per second with very low latency [delay before the screen updates to the position of a user's head or view] is crucial, as lag is one of the biggest factors that makes a poor, nauseating VR experience, something we must avoid if we're going to convince people to get onboard."

The steps to introduce VR into your business

McIntyre said if you are hoping to introduce VR into your company's training roadmap, first it would be good to start using the simple applications, such as checklists, to train people to use it and make on-the-job training easier. It can also help with quality assurance with the checklist right there so employees don't have refer back to a manual to double check they've done each procedure correctly.

"Many companies will be taking the processes they already have on tablets and taking content that used to be on PC onto mobile phone or tablet so the next step is to go one step further and take that content and see what even more things can we do if we have that image in the smart glasses," she said.

McIntyre also stressed the importance of partnerships, or working with the right software company to develop a solution. "At the moment, we're seeing the software partners developing the solutions to meet the business' need, rather than the companies themselves developing the software."

Where is VR going?

With the scope of VR applications developing at a shocking rate, there's no doubt it will become more popular in business as those across the organisation see the benefits of saving time and resource, whether that's with employee training or simply communicating across the world.

Analysts are predicting VR will become just another essential technology system to introduce when business applications become more mature and both the hardware and software are available to take it out of the home and into the workplace.

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