Most people today immediately associate augmented and virtual reality applications with gaming and other forms of entertainment. But as these technologies advance and real-word applications move beyond science fiction, it’s becoming apparent that they will have a profound impact across a wide range of vertical industries. At this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Samsung C-Lab demonstrated prototypes of retail and tourism applications incorporating augmented and virtual reality technologies.

Those showcased devices and programs signified just the beginning of business applications. As the technology matures, organizations can apply virtual reality within the following areas:

  • Manufacturing: Augmented and virtual reality applications are starting to be employed as part of quality control to compare products to a multi-dimensional virtual representation of how a finished product is supposed to appear and function. It can also help companies test manufacturing spaces and re-evaluate manufacturing processes.
  • Services: Technicians are being trained using augmented and virtual reality software to service everything from complex airplane engines to setting up home entertainment systems. These applications not only reduce the cost of training those technicians; they also allow them to compare the state of a product in the field to a visual representation of the product in its most pristine condition.
  • Retail: The shopping experience is once again being transformed by technology. Whether it’s shopping for a car or buying cosmetics, augmented and virtual reality enables retailers to provide a digital customer experience that ultimately leads to much higher rates of customer satisfaction, since they can much more easily visualize how they might interact with the products they are considering.
  • Real Estate: The days of randomly visiting locations to find a place to live are coming to an end. Buyers will instead have already paid a digital visit before they ever devote the time to visit a physical location to make their final choice.
  • Tourism: Vacationers will be able to virtually check out destinations before they book a trip. Augmented and virtual reality applications will provide a try-before-you-visit digital experience for everything from cruise ships to theme parks. When you arrive, that experience will then be further extended using those applications.

Whether it involves a marketing function or manufacturing processes, it’s increasingly becoming clear there’s almost no aspect of business that won’t be affected.

Making Virtual Reality Part of Your Channel Strategy

Augmented and virtual reality applications are only going to become more interactive as smartphones and headset technologies advance with new capabilities and functions.

Some solution providers feel they could wait for these technologies to mature — the market is still figuring out adoption rates and seeing how the hardware develops. By then, however, the early adopter advantage will be lost. Savvy solution providers are already having conversations concerning how augmented and virtual reality applications will play a critical role in transforming just about any business. The immediate opportunity is to simply show customers the “art of the possible” today. It won’t take them long to figure out how to employ these applications across the entire breadth and scope of their business.

Once they start to build and deploy those applications, there’s going to be a natural exponential increase in the amount of computer, storage and network resources that need to be consumed. The potential dividends of these applications for solution providers will clearly fall into the category of a gift that keeps on giving for decades to come.

The difference between success and a missed augmented and virtual reality opportunity, however, will be determined by which solution provider brought the next great idea to the attention of their customers versus waiting for them to figure it out on their own.

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