Making Virtual Space a real place of the future

Advances in cutting-edge digital platforms, peripherals and infrastructure are poised to take Virtual Space from high concept to practical reality in short order.

The roll-out of high-speed, low-power 5G will catalyze Virtual Space to the next level, and established players are investing massively. Sony is upgrading the PlayStation VR HMD. Apple bought NextVR. PTC is surging at the intersection of AR and IoT. Oculus Quest got an upgrade by Facebook (already, its Spark AR Studio has been used by more than a billion people as of 2019).

Taking Virtual Space from high concept to practical reality.

From concept to reality

The case studies available today are already impressive. Lots of leading companies – in the film, travel, healthcare, retail, automotive, education and heavy equipment industries – are getting real results.

Take Strivr, the once-niche VR platform for football quarterbacks, which is now helping employees in many post-pandemic sectors learn from simulated scenarios so they can safely prepare for “live” interactions (without the threat of being tackled by a 320-lb. lineman).

One of Strivr’s biggest implementations is at Walmart, where at least a million employees across 5,000 locations have used VR headsets to practice both their soft and hard skills, like loading the company’s new vending machines for in-store order pickups. The interactions can also be used for skills assessments and succession planning.

It’s not just commercial businesses, either. In healthcare settings, platforms like AccuVein are already helping phlebotomists “see” subcutaneously through skin using AR – so they don’t have to repeatedly poke grandma. Conservation International produced “Under the Canopy” in fully immersive VR to educate people on the natural wealth and sensitive lands of the Amazon. For kids doing their schooling at home, teachers and museums could give immersive tours of cities, stars and planets.

If these examples sound too prosaic, consider LA-based PORTL. Its phone-booth-sized machines can transmit live holograms – via “holoportation” – right into your room. (Perhaps too outlandish? Maybe. Yet check out Tupac Shakur’s posthumous reanimation at Coachella nearly a decade ago in 2012 to get a glimpse into what this future of Virtual Space might look like).

Possibilities to make Virtual Space a real place of the future are endless.

Massive interest

Virtual Space goes viral in a viral age: While analysts prognosticate strong growth of the user base (and revenue) for AR and VR, some of the pandemic-era anecdotes are striking. Travis Scott’s April VR concert attracted more than 12 million fans. Animal Crossing, a game on Nintendo Switch, became an unheralded lockdown sensation, and even featured a virtual Biden/Harris campaign appearance.

Future-proofed workforce

Workplace for jobs of the future: Whether for collaboration, education and training, or to enhance customer experiences, an estimated 23.5 million jobs worldwide will use AR and VR by 2030. Theoretically, the addressable market for VR should be 100% of workers, especially for learning and development.

Better outcomes

Virtual tech, revamped training: Companies globally spent $366.2 billion on corporate training in 2018 – a record high. But investments in VR can enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. Onboarding – especially in a time of contagion – can benefit too, especially with only 12% of workers strongly agreeing their company does a great job of it.