There aren’t many emerging business technologies whose users could be described as ‘evangelists’.
Yet that’s the word Andy Connell uses to describe his clients at Cheshire-based virtual reality company Virtalis.
He says the power of VR can convert even the biggest sceptic into a believer in a matter of minutes as they realise how the technology can improve their bottom line.
Virtalis’s flagship Visionary Render software turns computer-aided design into 3D images and Connell, who works as a technical director, says it’s winning business.
“I met some people that were designing the mowers for big golf courses and they’d had a problem that meant a redesign,” he explains.
“They used our Visionary Render software and in 40 minutes they had created a complete virtual model of the new design.
“Everyone tried it out, and they saw all the site lines, saw that it all worked with the new design and were able to say ‘yes, go for it’.
“They said there was no way they could have done that before.”
Digi-Capital predicts that the virtual and augmented reality industry will be worth $120 billion by 2020.
In an age of globalisation, VR gives multinational companies a way of being in the same place at the same time – cutting huge travel costs while sending productivity through the roof.
“That’s common tech now – people can inhabit a virtual world on different continents and be working on the same model at the same time. They can now say, ‘no, that’s wrong, can’t you see?’ That’s just amazing,” says Connell.
A new VR experience is benefiting customers and driving up viewings at office and retail space provider Bruntwood.
The benefits of VR will be available for most industries in the next four years, Connell estimates.
“You could go on a virtual trip to Australia to see your aunt and speak to her avatar face-to-face, or to game parks and just have moving seats with amazing imagery.
“There’s enormous potential in retail with virtual shopping and looking at textures with haptics [virtual touch] too,” he says.
As with any technology there will be upfront costs first, but Connell says that many companies feel they make their money back within the first three to four months.
“People have the most phenomenal payback,” he says.
“All the components are going to get lots better and slicker and easier, so barriers to entry will come down, prices will decrease and computer processing power will increase.
“We’re at that tipping point right now.”
An expert told BusinessCloud that VR will one day be used to entertain all air passengers and sell them duty-free products.