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B2B and Virtual Reality: 4 industries to be disrupted first

Last updated on November 25th, 2014 at 05:51 pm

Oculus Rift’s CEO announced recently  that its virtual reality headsets are months, not years, away. Will there immediately be applications for B2B?

When we talk VR, the geekily inclined of a certain generation immediately thinks holodeck, and VR for recreation and entertainment. But B2B applications may come first. The ability to layer data or make abstract concepts like blueprinted bridges, tunnels buildings and vehicles can be powerful for any B2B organization. The ability to experience a completed design of a new hotel room or building lobby before it’s built could be industry changing: the cost savings could be enormous, but the ability to make people feel like they are there is priceless.

That all sounds great, but how far away are we from that being a reality? What will it cost? Where can I try it? Opinions varied until Nov 4 2014 when Oculus Rift announced consumer devices were close. Awestruck reviews of the new version of the device, recently acquired by Facebook, describe the experience in transcendent terms, indicating the tech has developed by leaps and bounds.

For B2B applications to flourish a development ecosystem needs to grow around the platform. We’ve seen that take root already. So expect VR to have a huge impact, but more gradually in B2B than B2C.

Here are four industries with big VR disruption potential.

Real estate: it’s fascinating that so often the biggest purchases of our lives (offices, homes) are those we try on the least before we take one. Real estate research will be much easier with VR, and enable long distance commercial deals to be done more smoothly. Will it extend agents’ territories?

Vacations and/or company events: managing expectations for the two star on the left bank? Or wanting to wow a prospective visitor to a penthouse and allow them to select their amenities before arrival? Or turn a two-star into a five-star experience. Imagine ultra-safe entertainment for team-building. Turning a hotel room into a conference room. The potential feels enormous.

Conferences and meetings: hey, didn’t we do this in Second Life? (It is still alive!) Maybe, but not like this. Instead of looking at avatars sitting at a table, you’d be sitting at a table or in a theatre or at a coffee bar. Virtually of course; if it comes close to the real thing it is far easier than being in Toronto and going to meet someone on
Omotesando in real life. With VR you’ll be able to practically be there despite not physically being there.

Expect a new wave of human interaction and communication styles, if VR as a medium becomes more popular, and real-life interactions fewer and farther between. In other words, we think this is likely to be big, to the extent that it is able to deliver equivalent effects to real life interactions.

Tech demos and displays: While there are some fantastic screen sharing platforms (hello join.me andGoToMeeting) VR will take the experience to a level well beyond looking at PowerPoint (although we’d hold out for the 3D version of Prezi).

Watch for our next article on the four most interesting companies in VR.

Flickr photo via user Sergey Galyokin

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