By Chris Stegner, CEO and co-founder at Very Big Things, a leading digital product agency focused on digital transformation and disruption.
Once commonly thought of as just a gaming tool or a means for entertainment, virtual reality platforms are now ushering in a completely new age of business. A recent PwC report predicts that worldwide, almost 23.5 million jobs could be using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) by 2030. Uses could include meetings, training, customer service and more.
It doesn’t stop there, though, as the spread of Covid-19 has accelerated AR and VR adoption at a rapid pace. According to 2020 research published by CommereNext and Exponea, more than 20% of U.S. retailers plan to invest in AR or VR for their company’s online store, up from just 8% six months earlier.
Traditional VR headsets, however, have a high barrier of entry for consumers and are not widely available across the globe. So how can brands take advantage of the powerfully immersive VR experience but not be limited by cost, physical availability or the need for consumers to download additional software?
Organizations should look to leverage web-based VR and AR systems.
How WebVR Works
Industries Utilizing WebVR Today
WebVR has found a home in several industries, including real estate, education, conferences and more.
The real estate industry has been completely transformed with the advancements of XR (VR + AR) technology. According to Coldwell Banker’s 2018 Smart Home Marketplace survey, 77% of homebuyers would like to experience virtual reality tours before seeing a prospective listing in person. Another 68% would like to use AR technology to see how their current furniture would look in a new home. XR is saving buyers time and opens up the potential market to a wider audience.
Little Workshop’s WebVR Showroom is a perfect example of how real estate companies can showcase their properties virtually. Potential buyers can easily log on and explore their spaces in a 360-degree format without ever leaving the comfort of their own homes, allowing for a more convenient and time-saving experience. With engaging features like the ability to change displayed furniture, potential buyers can emotionally connect to these spaces in ways they never could have before.
Another great example is the Lennar Corporation, which is one of the largest real estate and home construction companies in the United States. Lennar notably entered this space in 2019 in partnership with SkyNav, an immersive technology company that claims to have helped its partners in the real estate industry increase overall engagement by 45% using WebVR.
Another industry being transformed by VR is education. Recent statistics show students remember 90% of material learned through experience versus remembering just 30% of what is heard. Furthermore, IEEE recently conducted a study that found students who took part in using WebVR demonstrated a high level of creativity and problem-solving skills, debunking any myths that VR is distracting to learners.
Both in-person and online educators are using VR as a means to democratize learning across the globe. WebVR is opening up avenues for students that were never present in the past. Our client Certify-ED is one online provider enabling students to take part in interactive VR classes using just a computer or tablet. It offers award-winning courses in areas like nursing, tae kwon do, biotechnology, fundamentals of robotics, drones and medical assistance. It’s also expanding and planning to release courses in computer programming, digital media, HVAC and more.
It is no question that the pandemic forced rapid adoption of VR by the event industry, and we’ve already seen many companies leverage this technology to hold conferences virtually. HTC was one of the first when it moved its Vive Ecosystem Conference fully online in March, allowing attendees to take part via a VR headset or through a desktop monitor.
This approach allows companies to safely hold their events while also removing geographical boundaries to potential audience members. No longer are potential attendees bound by location or the need for expensive travel arrangements.
More organizations should implement web-based VR conference abilities. WebVR truly democratizes the event industry because it allows audience members from all over the world to take part without the need for expensive equipment or to download additional software.
Regardless of your industry, WebVR experiences can help take your company to new heights, especially in a pandemic and post-pandemic world. As I see it, the accessibility, ease of use and overall engagement simply cannot be matched by any other technology.