Why aren’t we using VR in offices? Come on guys, it’s 2020.

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Why aren’t we using VR in offices? Come on guys, it’s 2020.
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If you start a project to implement VR as a way to positively transform the business, it can sometimes be seen as the new toy of the CTO, or the executives’ attempting to follow a fad. You’ll encounter some fairly common misconceptions when trying to get your colleague/boss/client to consider VR and immersive technologies. So, break the spell of misconceptions and bring them into this century for real, with a sturdy business case for why you should be using VR in the office.

Misconception 1. “VR (AR, whatever you call it), that’s just for video games”

Fact: In VR, video games take up 40.5% of the market share, followed by healthcare, education and automotive. Healthcare and education are expected to see a rate of adoption of VR.

46% of organisations believe that VR and AR will become mainstream in their organisation in the next three years, and 53% say it will become mainstream in the next three to five years.

Business Case: Many of the technologies we use today started life in other industries with very different use cases. Mobile telecommunication began life as satellite phones being used on the battlefield. GPS started out as technology developed for the defence sector, now we use the same technology to navigate an unfamiliar city, or track where our takeout is.

Many companies have already invested in immersive VR experiences for both employees and customers. Outside of healthcare, education and the military, here are just a few enterprise use cases:

  • In 2018, Walmart announced that it would expand its immersive training program to 4,700 locations in the U.S., including distributing 17,000 Oculus Go headsets and offering access to its 1 million associate employees.
  • Boeing’s technicians use AR instructions for airplane wiring schematics in their field of view, allowing them to be hands-free.
  • At Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), VR and plant data is used to provide a quicker and safer way for workers to inspect equipment, lowering the risk of technicians getting hurt.

Misconception 2. “The hardware is expensive”

Fact: The cost of hardware can range from $15 to $10,000.

Business Case: An iPhone is $1449. An iMac is $1880. A Wacom Cintiq is $3299. “But these are essential” they will say, “and VR is just an unnecessary expenditure.” Even with the investment required for new hardware, implementing a VR programme will have a greater financial impact on the business overall. “But how?”

Research conducted by Capgemini on businesses who had implemented VR found a group of “early achievers” who extracted the greatest value from the technology. Early achievers were defined by finding five or more separate use cases for their VR implementation. The early achievers found a 57% increase in efficiency, while those businesses who were not early achievers still saw a 23% increase in efficiency. Similarly, early achievers found a 52% increase in productivity, compared to a 21% increase reported by the other businesses studied. Early achievers saw a 47% reduction in complexity, compared to 19% complexity reduction in other businesses.

The headline is even if your VR programme isn’t the most successful in the world, you can still expect to see a positive financial impact on the business.

Misconception 3. “I need a whole room for VR”

VR being used at the desk by designers at the Gravity Sketch office
VR being used at the desk by designers at the Gravity Sketch office.

Fact: This misconception originates from the first virtual reality environments. The Cave Automatic Virtual Environment was developed at the University of Illinois, Chicago Electronic Visualisation Library in 1992. This method includes video images projected on three walls, while the user wears a VR headset and interacts with the environment using standard controllers, or a custom-designed control panel for simulations. Some companies specialise in large-scale physical installations, and it is often used in aerospace, naval, defence, the automotive sector and education.

Business Case: VR headsets can be used at your desk, just like an additional monitor. (But that doesn’t mean you have to wear one all the time. Trust us, that’s not a good idea.)

Misconception 4. “VR gives me motion sickness”

Fact: There are several theories as to what causes VR motion sickness. ‘Sensory conflict’ is believed to be the main cause of motion sickness. This is caused by a disjunction between the visual movement you are perceiving inside your headset and your body’s own sense of motion generated by your physical movements in space.

Business Case: The problem really stuck out in early VR technology, in both the hardware and the software. The technology faced issues with “latency”, meaning the hardware could not materialise the virtual surroundings fast enough to effectively simulate what the eyes would see if the virtual experience was real. VR companies now work extensively to counteract any disorientation caused by visual latency by maintaining higher refresh rates (the number of times the visual image is recalculated based on the user’s exact position) of over 60 frames per second, and using high accuracy internal and external tracking in their headsets.

Internal and external rotation tracking are referred to in VR terminology as “Degrees of Freedom”, and you either have 3 or 6 degrees. Choose a professional quality VR headset that will give you 6DoF (6 Degrees of Freedom), such as the Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, or Varjo VR-2. This will give you a deeper, more realistic and pleasing VR experience, and reduce the problems associated with VR motion sickness.

Misconception 5. “VR / AR / MR is just a fad or a gimmick”

Fact: By Q1 2017, VR headsets had better market penetration than smartphones and tablets at similar stages of their lifecycle. The global VR market size was valued at USD 7.3 Billion in 2018 is projected to reach USD 120.5 Billion by 2026. It is projected that 500 million VR headsets will be sold by 2025.

Business Case: The first adopter phase for VR has already passed. Data from YouGov from Q1 of 2017 suggested that even then purchases of VR had shifted beyond the’ early adopters’. They found that 22% of owners were ‘second wave’ purchasers, and 29% were so-called ‘mainstream’ purchasers. In 2018, VR technology graduated out of Gartner’s Hype Cycle. What this means is that, according to Gartner’s research, VR is no longer an emerging market, but a mature one, and more specifically in the realm of enterprise applications.

By building your internal capabilities early on, while the market is still young, will be a faster route to finding out what works for your business and how it will bring ROI. Tech giants like Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and HP all have consistent investment in their internal VR programs.

So, if you encounter any of these common misconceptions about why VR just won’t work out in the workplace, smile, gently remind whoever you’re talking to that it’s 2020, and then drop some knowledge bombs. Even better, if you hear some other objections or misconceptions we haven’t mentioned, post them in the comments for us to check out. We’d love to hear how we can help you implement VR in your business. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up writing another article on this in the future.

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