Pixvana, the virtual reality video software company, held a "State of VR" demonstration at Cisco headquarters in late September. VR headsets lined the room as co-founder Sean Safreed explained to listeners the differences between AR, VR, MR (mixed reality), and XR (extended reality).
"There have been a number of epochs of VR," said Safreed, whose company Cisco added to its investment portfolio at the end of 2017, "Two years ago, resolution wasn't as great and we were dealing with prototype headsets. Today, some cameras have six or eight lenses—they can do 8K or 10K resolution, and stereo sound and viewing gives more in-depth experiences."
Let's break it down. With VR, a wearer can block the world out by putting a headset on and getting immersed into a virtual realm. AR superimposes graphics or animations onto the real world, overlaying computer-generated content onto the here-and-now. MR takes this one step further, by removing the boundaries between the real and the virtual. Occulusion—or the way computer-generated objects can be hidden by real objects—allows the two realities to blend and interact in new ways. XR is what we call any and all of these experiences; every real and virtual world including those created by VR, AR, and MR.
VR has seen wide adoption at such a fast pace because it provides the power of presence. You can show hard to reach places or connect to other people on a deep emotional level; the power of immersion is impactful.
We already know how this technology has been gamified and how it's being utilized in industries like travel and real estate. Athletes use VR to train and heathcare organizations use MR to relieve patient anxiety. So where might enterprises also be able to use the immersive experiences of VR and its counterparts?
- Sales and marketing
With VR trends on the rise, more people are eager to want to experience it for themselves. Pixvana has found four times the increase in time spent on a VR marketing video than a traditional one, and two times the share rate. For trade shows and other busy settings, headsets provide a distraction-free environment.
It's a good time for marketers to experiment with immersive content on screens and in the meeting room. VR allows employees to demo offerings in a small space with just the use of a headset. This exemplifies one the technology's key perks—"economy of scale", or upping the product while lowering the cost.
- Recruiting and onboarding
Remote workers can get an intimate introduction to the home office and team with VR, helping close the gap of physical distance. Showing applicants tours of the campus and the city could be an enticing experience to see potential future surroundings.
- Training and development
Say you work in a dangerous environment—it could make sense to use VR to train in risky settings or those that are hard to replicate. This keeps workers safe and it cuts down on the cost of training. In a study by the National Training Laboratory, retention rates for lecture-style learning were five percent, while VR had a retention rate of 75 percent. Cisco Sales Academy has experimented with VR as a cost effective way to tour data centers, and is still exploring new applications for the technology.
Where can we possibly go next with VR? Something big on the horizon is the volumetric camera, or a spherical device covered with cameras that can capture volumetric video. This kind of video creates depth, and allows viewers to move left, right, up, down, backward, forward, or angled in the video. We may feel engaged using VR now, but VR volumetric video could provide a truly immersive experience where the real and virtual are one in the same. There are many real world applications organizations can leverage today—from empathy-driving training to virtual traveling at trade shows and more.