Goggles are the brave shields that have taken us above the clouds, under the ocean and now — into whole new realities. The meteoric rise of VR technology is due to the sheer amount of interest and money it attracts. Venture capital firms are pouring billions of dollars into developing virtual reality technologies. Citi projects that the VR industry will grow to $15.9B by the end of 2019 while content and hardware pieces will be valued at $200B by 2020. Once the foundation for VR hardware and systems is laid, the conversation naturally turns to the content. What will compel people to buy these products?
VR is transposing traditional digital experiences into the 3D realm, and thus has some valuable, but perhaps obvious applications: video games, digital art, movies, education, etc. There is no shortage of VR startups that want to provide memorable experiences, but by and large they are creating iterations of digital experiences consumers have grown to expect.
VR can also afford much greater opportunity to creators, allowing them to superimpose and blend interactive components into a variety of unique experiences. The immersive nature of VR means that we can create both active and passive experiences. We’re seeing exciting applications for those with mobile or physical limitations, for shared experiences among groups of people, and for use within the mental health and wellness field.
VR has given chemotherapy patients the ability to take spur of the moment trips around the world as clear toxic fluids drip into their veins, reducing the burden of psychological symptoms associated with treatment. Studies show that VR experience can help mitigate combat-related PTSD and prep adolescents for major surgeries. VR is being used to simulate exposure therapy for those with stress, anxiety, and depression. Remarkably, there is even talk about reducing the use of opiates in hospitals with VR devices, a promising development at a time when pain-related addiction is devastating many of our communities.
VR is also making its way into everyday wellness spaces. Significant players like Samsung and Deepak Chopra are respectively working on guided meditation offerings for Samsung Gear consumers. Immersive meditation experiences provide a gamified solution with the potential to persuade even the most skeptical tech users to adopt these deeply enriching health experiences.
But what if VR was used to elevate experiences that don’t traditionally incorporate gamification, like the workplace? Almost two decades into the new millennium, the workplace is a vastly different place today than it was just a generation ago. Startups have championed the “perkplace”, with unlimited vacation days, daily catered lunches and even midday surf lessons. As companies look to incorporate tools for managing stress during the workday, VR may be a viable solution for filling that need.
At Psocratic, we’re working to build some of these experiences into our own product — think a VR setup in the break room for a quick escape, or teambuilding exercises that take place on Mars. The possibilities are endless and we can’t wait to see where the goggles will take us next.