Updated: Sep 8
Gaming is one of the more well-known VR uses but its potential doesn’t stop there. Businesses have only just scratched the surface of what’s possible.
Aircraft Maintenance Training
The U.S. Air Force and Training Command (AETC) is prioritising transforming the way airmen learn through modernization of education and training. They are developing competency-based virtual reality and augmented reality training for aircraft maintenance. Virtual training hangars are being built for the classroom and frontline with 3D environments with AR capabilities. The Air Force plans to share the virtual hangars and aircraft platform environments with other commands, including, Air Mobility, Air Combat and Air Force Special Operations.
VR enables dealers to showcase models conveniently wherever the customer desires without constraints. A user is immersed in a virtual world where they can fully configure every aspect of their vehicle to their own specification and then take it on a test drive. Wearable tech allows shoppers to customise the ideal configuration of the vehicle they want and view the car inside and out from a first-person perspective.
VR is saving the automotive industry funds by allowing engineers and designers to experiment easily with the look and build of a vehicle before commissioning costly prototypes. They use VR to hold early design and engineering reviews to check the visual design and object obscuration of the vehicle before money is spent on physically manufacturing the parts.
AR is now being developed to make solving car issues easier, enabling you to overlay instructions over the problem area. Hyundai already has an AR app available for its customers, helping drivers to carry out simple maintenance tasks and providing general information about their vehicle.
Virtual Reality Therapy
EMBODIED LABS is using VR Simulations to better understand certain health conditions to help improve the care of the elderly. Interactive, 360-degree videos play through a VR headset, allowing wearers to experience life from someone else's perspective.
One of the company's first labs, We are Alfred, transforms users into Alfred, a 74-year old African-American man suffering from macular degeneration and high-frequency hearing loss. Another lab turns users into Beatriz, a woman living with Alzheimer's. At one point wearers are prompted to say something as Beatriz (by either answering someone's question or asking for help), but the words emerge jumbled. Another part of the Beatriz experience involves simulating a stressful environment in a crowded room. Sound becomes distorted and volume increases. As Alzheimer's also adversely affects communication, this is an important part of understanding the overall experience.
This use extends to delivering other types of therapy that would have traditionally been delivered in a constrained environment. In virtual reality, they can create environments that suit the situation. Virtual reality health apps include a platform of games and activities that use VR as a form of rehabilitation, meditation training and the use of AR to give doctors quick access to a patient's electronic health records.
Previously, scientists were limited to working with models of structures of models. Now they can build 3-D moving molecules to see how they move, the shapes they can take and how they might respond to certain situations. All with Virtual Reality! A company called C4X Discovery is developing ground-breaking drugs for diseases such as cancer, chronic addiction and dementia, using VR to visualise the structure of molecules in front of them. Using VR speeds up the drug development cycle by reducing the chances of error.
Russian dairy farmers have conducted an experiment that involves outfitting cows with VR headsets in an attempt to improve their mood and boost milk production. The headsets were developed in cooperation with veterinarians and adapted to the head shape and eye perception of a cow.
AR and VR have other useful applications in the agriculture industry. The Australian national science and agency (CSIRO) recently developed a technology that uses AR headsets, sensors, and next-generation data interaction techniques to help prawn farmers keep track of key water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen and pH levels in real-time. This gives farmers the information they need to manage animal health and feed inputs and share the visuals in real-time with stakeholders or external experts for fast input. While the technology has been tested first in prawn farming, researchers hope it could be adapted for any type of farming in the near future.
The Retail industry is creating more intimate buying experiences using AR and VR by bringing mobile shopping into their own physical space or in the stores where customers can try items, which are not physically available. When a customer wants something tailor-made, a retailer can actually show the customer how the final product will look like by leveraging AR/VR. It also helps companies to gain insights into which items are being tried the most and which ones are sold the least.
Asos recently launched a new experimental feature on its app, “Virtual Catwalk”. It was offering customers a new way of viewing its products in real life. All customers need to do is point their smartphone camera at any suitable flat surface and click the “AR” button on the product page in-app and they will be able to view models in different sizes and on different body types as if they are walking in front of them. Virtual Catwalk was only available on a selection of 90 ASOS design products on AR-enabled iOS devices.
A mixed-reality software that allows scientists and engineers to virtually walk on Mars received NASA's 2018 Software of the Year Award. OnSight uses imagery from NASA's Curiosity rover to create an immersive 3D terrain model, allowing users to wander the actual dunes and valleys explored by the robot. The goal of the software, a collaboration between Microsoft and JPL's Ops Lab, is to bring scientists closer to the experience of being in the field. Unlike geologists on Earth, who can get up close and personal with the terrain they study, Martian geologists have a harder time visualizing their environment through 2D imagery from Mars.