Virtual Reality's New Horizons: Enterprise Apps and Gloves for Typing
When it comes to virtual reality (VR), the technology most frequently arises in discussions surrounding gaming and entertainment. But one of the hottest technologies of the last several years may ultimately find that the enterprise market is the one that provides it with its killer app.
While much of the interest in VR last year came from gamers, this year enterprise apps may take the lead in the market, according to analysts. In fact, the fastest growth area for VR is in non-gaming sectors.
Training and Education
Perhaps one of the most obvious non-gaming applications for VR technology lies in the design space, since VR's 3D interface can allow designers to manipulate objects in every dimension. Architects are already using the technology to help design buildings and interiors. VR may also hold significant promise for prototyping, as it is able to fully render 3D objects.
Education and training are two other areas that are expected to be heavily impacted by VR technology in years to come. HTC’s virtual reality headset Vive (pictured above), which was co-developed with gaming platform Valve, is being used to help train new firefighters by providing more realistic simulated environments where they can practice their skills.
The same sort of approach could be applied to other fields that require extensive training but for which creating realistic simulations is difficult. Police and military training facilities spend a lot of money building real-world simulated environments to provide trainees with experiences that are as close to reality as possible. Switching to VR-hosted simulations could make training much cheaper, while also making it more accessible.
Facebook, meanwhile, is looking at ways that its VR technology can be applied throughout the enterprise market, rather than just for training new employees. Through its Oculus Rift VR subsidiary, Facebook is developing accessories that could allow workers to apply VR technology to their existing workflows.
For example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently demonstrated a new set of glove controllers for the Oculus Rift platform that could potentially allow users to manipulate virtual keyboards to type, eliminating the need for laptops to conform to the keyboard form factor.
The ability to type in virtual reality could be a significant boon for people who spend much of their days in front of their monitors. According to reports, engineers within Facebook are already experimenting with using the gloves to make programmers more productive. In theory, coders would be able to display their codes on virtual monitors of any size, allowing them to work with much more code at once.
Oculus Rift's new gloves may also provide haptic feedback, which could open up entirely new fields of applications for the technology. By allowing users to input information using gestures and hand movements, VR technology could open up telecommuting work to entirely new jobs. Surgeons, for example, could perform operations on patient hundreds of miles away.
Posted: 2017-02-16 @ 12:33am PT