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5 Things to Know About the Growing VR Industry

By Ryan Ayers

Virtual reality technology has been in use for decades in vehicle simulations, military and medical training programs, but has only recently become mainstream. There is a high consumer demand for these products now and it will continue to grow as the technology advances and virtual reality (VR) systems become more affordable to the general public. Virtual reality is not only for gamers, but has also become popular in the business sector by connecting remote teams to work on a single project and the health industry to help heal patients. Highlighted below are five key insights into the world of virtual reality. 

Image Courtesy Reviatech

Market Growth
The VR market is set to grow at an accelerated rate over the next few years. There are currently 685 VR startups in the market with an average valuation of $4.5 million. By 2018, the VR market is expected to reach $7 billion and the total number of active VR users is forecasted to reach 171 million. By 2020, the market will be worth approximately $30 billion. 

Companies in VR Market
Some of the top companies have entered the VR world including YouTube, Facebook and Google. Facebook bought the Oculus Rift system after it surpassed its funding goal on Kickstarter in the first 24 hours even though it had not yet released a commercial product. Since then the Oculus system headset has been released to work with your mobile phone or PC and hand controls have been developed to allow gamers to interact with their VR environment. YouTube has created a channel just for virtual reality and 360 degree videos. These experiences can be viewed with your smartphone or other VR systems and can take you all over the world with a variety of different experiences. There are currently more than 2.4 million subscribers to the channel. 

Google's Cardboard is a more affordable VR viewer with the ability to capture your own photos and relive them in virtual reality. With their expedition app, teachers can take their students on virtual field trips to more than 500 destinations including Machu Picchu, Antarctica and the International Space Station. Google Earth has also been developed into virtual reality allowing you to travel the world from your living room. Google also has a more advanced smartphone VR system called Daydream that comes with a hand controller to track your movements. The Daydream team is working on a standalone system that will allow you to enjoy VR without the need of your smartphone, PC, additional wires or sensors.

Health Industry
Virtual reality is being used in the health industry to treat a variety of patients including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and burn victims. Patients dealing with PTSD have been using virtual renderings of the traumatic event to aid in their recovery. In one study, a veteran of the Iraq war experienced a 56 percent reduction on the clinician-administered PTSD scaled after just six hours of therapy in a VR rendering. 

Another VR experience is helping burn victims deal with rehabilitation and wound care. Burn victims often deal with excruciating pain when opioids are not enough during bandage changes, cleanings and staple removal. This VR experience is called SnowWorld which acts as a distraction for patients as they are immersed in a snowy environment featuring snowball-throwing penguins. This virtual reality world helps reduce their pain levels. 

VR in Hollywood
Major motion pictures such as Star Wars and Jurassic World have released VR experiences to generate the public's interest, excitement and a strong brand association to their films. For example, you can visit an IMAX VR location where you enter a pod, strap on a headset and escape to another world. These entertainment centers currently have adventures taking you to battle stormtroopers in a Star Wars episode or fight the undead from Universals reboot of The Mummy. 

Just recently Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan announced he is teaming with Sony's Playstation to create a non-game VR experience based on the show. While details on the project are limited and the story is still in the early stages, Gilligan stated he is eager to explore storytelling in virtual reality. 

Virtual Teams
With the demand of flexible working arrangements, businesses are allowing more of their employees to work remotely. In fact, 85 percent of corporate employees work on at least one virtual team and 41 percent of those teams never meet in person. Managers are using a variety of technologies to set up meetings and communicate with their virtual teams. 

With virtual reality becoming mainstream, it is going to cause a monumental shift in the way people shop, learn, communicate and connect with others around the world. 

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Ryan Ayers has been a consultant for over five years within multiple industries including information technology, medical devices and logistics. 

Many clients call him the BizTech Guru. He is a freelance writer on the side and lover of all things related to business, technology, innovation and the LA Clippers.

Related Keywords:VR Industry, VR Applications


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