Byline: CEO and Founder of Devika, Ken Kencevski
The rise of VR and AR
When Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) first started to emerge in the marketplace many people thought that it was the next evolution for just video games, but it’s application has been more than that. VR and AR have the potential to create meaningful change across a multitude of sectors, yet many people don’t fully understand its capabilities in the business arena. Recent research has revealed that immersive technology delivers better efficiency, productivity and safety for enterprises, and that augmented reality will lead the way for business operations.
The opportunity to implement, utilise and benefit from it, is attainable globally. Currently, the US and China are leading the implementation race with over 50% of companies in these countries already using immersive technology for business operations. Australia is yet to embrace it on the same capacity, but a rising number of companies are starting to explore how it can give them a competitive advantage moving into the future. At Devika, we are pioneering this movement locally, helping any business, whether its data visualisation or healthcare, to enhance their business capabilities through leveraging this emerging technology.
Everyday businesses doing extraordinary things
One Australian company, Safety Compass has developed a work health and safety risk management app which helps workers assess, manage and avoid dangers in the workplace through intuitive AR which communicates real-time hazard information to users in the field. Using the phone’s inbuilt camera and GPS system, the app displays real and present danger to the viewer that adapt and compensate for the viewer’s field of vision. This replaces the necessity of bulky safety manuals to locate and manage risk.
Real estate agents are also capitalising on this technology. East Room has used VR to deliver virtual tours of their proposed co-working spaces to prospective clients, allowing them to sell 70% of the spaces before the physical fit out was even completed. Major corporations such as Westpac are also using AR to visualise and showcase the future of banking to its customers. Westpac showed users what banking with holograms will feel like using a custom-built augmented reality app that was controlled through voice commands and hand gestures.
It is also being used to enhance research and learning outcomes in biological sciences. New Jersey biotech company, Visikol has used VR to build a virtual mouse brain to allow scientists to study the brain in an immersive environment. Having access to the virtual brain helps them to understand causes for disease and consequently develop treatments. These case studies are just scratching the surface of the potential for immersive technology in businesses.
The transformative impact on industries
Globally, many different industries have already experienced trends driven by immersive technology. In healthcare, VR has a broad set of capabilities. It can provide simulation training for rare procedures, be a diagnostic device, help implement robotic surgery, and help treat post-traumatic stress rehabilitation. One example is our Evenness by Devika initiative, which collaborates with NDIS providers to provide access to virtual sensory rooms which can enhance the way individuals with disabilities manage anxiety, learning difficulties or developmental disabilities. Traditionally, sensory rooms have been experienced within a physical space, however in collaboration with The Disability Trust, we’ve been able to introduce new virtual methods and procedures which give the user more control over the space and are more accessible and cost effective for NDIS providers.
In education, mixed reality has transformed the classroom allowing teachers to use dynamic storytelling to create active experiences for students to engage with virtual subject material. An example of this is Google Expeditions, which is a software that allows students to travel to exotic locations adding context to History and Geography lessons. Locally, our Devika Learning initiative works to introduce VR experiential learning to Australian classrooms nationwide. Our award-winning learning program, Kolb uses VR headsets to transport students to Antarctica where they can navigate different scenarios of the inhospitable continent in line with curriculum content. The program has already been rolled out at schools in NSW with success, and a study run in collaboration with the University of Wollongong on Kolb has demonstrated that VR experiential learning enhances a student’s performance by 37%.
In public safety, VR is being used to enhance the training of personnel for a range of services like the police force, emergency rescue, the fire department, and paramedics. In data visualisation, VR can help conceptualise it making it easier for people to comprehend compared to standard means such as pie charts and spreadsheets. In design, Google’s Tilt Brush is just the beginning of a new 3D design process which turns a designer’s environment into a canvas creating new dimensions for work.
Filmmakers in the entertainment industry are using VR to create immersive 360 degree films to captivate audiences. In the sporting sector, mixed reality provides benefits for fans and professionals. Viewers get an immersive experience through VR broadcasts, and for professionals, it can change how they review their performances and improve their techniques with VR training simulations. The retail industry is already feeling the transformative impact with recent figures showing by 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in AR online and in-store.
Taking businesses into the future
Going into the future, this technology is only going to become more visible. The potential for Australian businesses to benefit is huge as it can streamline how businesses operate and manage projects, design and manufacture products, educate and train employees, and sell to customers. In our fast-paced and technologically savvy world, adopting this technology as part of one’s business strategy will allow businesses to stay ahead of the curve and remain agile in the future of work.