VR and AR in the enterprise - what can it be used for?

VR and AR in the enterprise - what can it be used for?

Simon Leather, Head of Connectivity Portfolio

Simon Leather, Head of Connectivity Portfolio

One trend that's gaining a lot of traction in the enterprise space at the moment is virtual reality (VR). Alongside its related technology, augmented reality (AR), businesses are expected to hugely increase the amount of resources they devote to this in the coming years.

Research company Gartner, named VR and AR among its top ten strategic technology trends for this year. They suggest it has the potential to transform the way in which individuals interact with each other.

But what can VR and AR bring to businesses? For many people, their only encounters with the technology thus far will have been in a consumer-context, for things like immersive gaming. But there's so much more that the technology can achieve for businesses.

Here are a few examples of how both technologies can be used.

Training and education

One of the most common proposed uses for VR is to enhance training experiences for employees, particularly in situations where real-world scenarios are impractical or even dangerous to carry out. For example, in the medical profession, surgeons could use the technology to hone their skills or practice a complicated procedure before the patient arrives.

Deloitte notes it's not just for potentially dangerous areas where VR can help. It explains that the nature of VR means it can effect a greater behavioural change on participants than other media. So if a company struggles to get employees to take on board messages delivered by slides or video, VR may offer an impactful alternative.

Modelling and design

The use of virtual or augmented reality can also be of great assistance when you are designing a new product. This technology can not only give professionals a better idea of what the finished object will look like in three dimensions, but also help simulate specific scenarios such as lighting. However, this is not solely limited to small objects - retail enterprises may use it to see what a new store layout may look like, for example, or architects could employ it when designing entire buildings.

Manufacturing

One sector that stands especially well-placed to take advantage of VR and AR is manufacturing. PwC notes more than a third of such companies in the US already use this in one form or another. In addition to product design, these businesses can use AR-equipped glasses or tablets to help in the manufacturing process itself, by superimposing a virtual version of the assembly over the actual product, helping reduce errors.

Data visualisation

With the amount of data businesses have to deal with getting bigger all the time, it can be tricky to translate this raw information into an easy-to-understand format. However, VR and AR data visualisation tools can make this much simpler. For example, some graphs may look complex and cluttered when viewed in 2D, but transposing them into 3D with an AR device such as Microsoft's HoloLens can help make sense of it.

With figures from IDC suggesting investment in VR and AR is set to grow from $5.2 billion (£4.19 billion) last year to $162 billion by 2020, the number of applications for the technology in business is only set to grow, so every business should now be asking what it can do for them?

VR and AR may not have a place in every office just yet, but your business needs to consider the strain that future technologies may have on your network, especially with the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth. We are always investing in our network to make sure that your business can support these new technologies. Find out more about our Next Generation Network and register for new technology innovations.