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Beyond games and roller coasters: Next steps for virtual reality

Keith Shaw | July 12, 2016
While VR has hit the mainstream in terms of consumers trying out the technology, can businesses jump on the VR train to better interact with customers?

TRAVEL: Another big area where VR could take off is expanding beyond the 360-degree hotel room area.  VR can deliver tours of a hotel room, the hotel property, areas of a cruise ship, or tourist locations to give you a feel for the area you want to visit. Mandelbaum said that conventional thinking was that if people could visit an area virtually, that they wouldn't want to go in person, but the opposite has occurred. Visitors to VR locations actually spur an increase in bookings, once they get a sense of what they see in the virtual space. Among the highlights include a tour of Houston, Texas; West Hollywood, Calif.; the Carnival Breeze cruise ship, London, England (see photo above); and Rome, Italy.

Real estate New York City YouVisit virtual reality

REAL ESTATE: Offering prospective home and/or apartment buyers a chance to visit virtually can be a big selling point for real estate agents (make sure you clean those ceilings, home sellers!).

EVENTS: Can't get to the festival this year? Watch some of the highlights and pretend that you're there, or see what you missed so you won't miss it next year.

BUSINESS: YouVisit includes a tour of the Cisco Security Operations Center, the HP Enterprise Technology Renewal Center and even the KinderCare Learning Centers. The range of how regular businesses can use the technology is fascinating, at least early on.

YouVisit Tavern on the Green virtual reality

RESTAURANTS: Can't afford a visit to the Tavern on the Green, but want to see what the experience is like? You can visit it, and other famous (and yet-to-be-famous) eateries and bars, mostly from the New York City area.

What's Next for VR?

If we're in Year 10 of the mainstream smartphone era (the iPhone emerged in 2006), Mandelbaum says we're probably in Year 2 of the VR era. The next eight years could see more VR equipment (I think we're all wondering if Apple will get into the game), and more form factors (headsets will get smaller, and the hardware might be integrated into more fashionable looks, like glasses that can switch from a regular/augmented view into a VR view.

The next logical step would be to expand the audience on the content-creation side - gear that can record 360-degree and VR experiences will likely come down in price. Look what happened when cameras got put on phones (well, at least good quality ones) - when you can start recording a 360-degree or VR video on your phone, then watch out - all of your Facebook friends will get involved (maybe that's why Facebook bought Oculus Rift).


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