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Five Alternative Uses of Virtual Reality Technology Outside of Gaming

Published on 12 February 16
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In 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR, the latest in a series of acquisitions the social media giant has made in the past five years. Oculus is widely known for it’s headsets and software widely coveted by gamers across the country, but Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has bigger plans for the technology, announcing that he planned on extending the reach of VR technology to a wide variety of industries--not just video games.


"After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences," Zuckerberg stated while announcing the deal. "Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home."


Zuckerberg’s predictions are nothing new. For decades, scientists and engineers have explored the possibilities of using VR, from treating soldiers diagnosed with PTSD to virtual tourism. With the recent advent of affordable headsets, such as the Gear VR, virtual reality will further spread into a variety of industries, five of which are listed below.

Treating PTSD Symptoms for Soldiers

Military service members often suffer from chronic combat-related PTSD, but virtual reality is proving to have favorable outcomes in soldiers’ treatment. Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) allows the patient to be put in triggering scenarios--including the battlefield--allowing the patient to confront and more healthily process the situation.


Albert Rizzo, a researcher at the University of Southern California, began studying the effects of VRT in 1993. In his most recent study, 80 percent of Rizzo’s 20 subjects saw a reduction in symptoms after just ten sessions. Other studies indicate that VR therapy alone was just as effective in treating PTSD symptoms than a combination of drug therapy and VR therapy.

Changing the Way Companies Perform Market Research


Ten years ago, one-on-one interviews and in person focus groups were the most common way to perform market research. The advent of virtual reality technology has
changed the way marketers conduct research, allowing greater insight into the customers choose the products they do, all at a reduced cost to the company.


In VR market research, study participants are presented with product options on a simulated shelf that mirrors what they might see in a physical storefront. Customers are then able to pick products up, inspect them, and decide whether or not to purchase them. Researchers are then able to study the customer’s reaction to products, and alter products accordingly in order to increase sales. Virtual reality market testing is also cheaper in the long run, as companies don’t have to build a physical mock up of the product.


Numerous companies have transitioned to use VR technology to their benefit. Nestle used Decision Insight software in an effort to increase ice cream sales at various retailers, and through a series of tests found ways to increase their revenue by 53 percent.


Five Alternative Uses of Virtual Reality Technology Outside of Gaming - Image 1

Image Courtesy of Rutgers University Online


Virtual Reality Room Service

Marriott Hotels have recently taken the concept of vacation to a whole new level, implementing a new virtual reality room service experience. Through a collaboration with Samsung, Marriott


developed the hotel industry’s first ever virtual reality experience. The initiative unveiled at the Marriott Marquis Manhattan and the London Marriott Park Lane, where guests can now order VRoom Service complete with a virtual reality set and headphones, allowing them to take trip-within-a-trip.


The headsets, called VR Postcards, come preloaded with virtual postcards from places all over the world--anywhere from an ice cream shop in Rwanda to a mountain range in Chile. Users simply select a destination, sit back, and explore the locale in an immersive 360-degree environment. Each postcard follows a real traveler exploring the destination, and wearers come along for the ride.


With this new technology, Marriott hopes that by allowing travelers to sample destinations, visitors will be encouraged to actually visit.

Treating Phobias Such as Public Speaking


Gallup polls indicate that as many as 40 percent of all Americans are afraid of public speaking, but with VR technology, many are able to reduce their stage fright. One public speaking simulator puts users in a virtual room filled with people waiting to hear you speak, where users are able to adjust both the number and attitude of the people they’re speaking in front of.


Bloomberg was an early adopter of this software, and in June of last year, the company showed off a prototype of their own public speaking simulator, using it internally for their own staff. Jeff Marshall, a Fixed Income Analyst at Bloomberg, tried the device before unveiling it, noting that it’s most significant feature alerted the speaker if they were paying too much attention to one side of the room. This allows speakers to fix bad speaking habits before the presentation itself.


Future models of the application are in the works, which would calculate how many times the speaker says fill in words like like, um, or you know.


Crime Scene Investigation

Researchers from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, and Indiana University have begun developing IC-Crime--software which reconstructs crime scenes, giving detectives and investigators a 3D replica of a crime scene from which they can evaluate the area from any angle.


Crime scene investigation is typically more laborious and less advanced, with investigators relying heavily on photographs, sketches, and field notes. But with the help of laser scanners, high-definition scanners, and a gaming engine, crime scenes are able to be recreated in a virtual environment.


In addition to rendering 3D scenes, this technology also allows police to interact with each other, place notes where important evidence has been found. Perhaps most significantly, the technology allows users to develop and test what-if scenarios, allowing investigators to test various theories about the events that occurred.

















In 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR, the latest in a series of acquisitions the social media giant has made in the past five years. Oculus is widely known for it’s headsets and software widely coveted by gamers across the country, but Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has bigger plans for the technology, announcing that he planned on extending the reach of VR technology to a wide variety of industries--not just video games.

"After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences," Zuckerberg stated while announcing the deal. "Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home."

Zuckerberg’s predictions are nothing new. For decades, scientists and engineers have explored the possibilities of using VR, from treating soldiers diagnosed with PTSD to virtual tourism. With the recent advent of affordable headsets, such as the Gear VR, virtual reality will further spread into a variety of industries, five of which are listed below.

Treating PTSD Symptoms for Soldiers

Military service members often suffer from chronic combat-related PTSD, but virtual reality is proving to have favorable outcomes in soldiers’ treatment. Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) allows the patient to be put in triggering scenarios--including the battlefield--allowing the patient to confront and more healthily process the situation.

Albert Rizzo, a researcher at the University of Southern California, began studying the effects of VRT in 1993. In his most recent study, 80 percent of Rizzo’s 20 subjects saw a reduction in symptoms after just ten sessions. Other studies indicate that VR therapy alone was just as effective in treating PTSD symptoms than a combination of drug therapy and VR therapy.

Changing the Way Companies Perform Market Research


Ten years ago, one-on-one interviews and in person focus groups were the most common way to perform market research. The advent of virtual reality technology has changed the way marketers conduct research, allowing greater insight into the customers choose the products they do, all at a reduced cost to the company.

In VR market research, study participants are presented with product options on a simulated shelf that mirrors what they might see in a physical storefront. Customers are then able to pick products up, inspect them, and decide whether or not to purchase them. Researchers are then able to study the customer’s reaction to products, and alter products accordingly in order to increase sales. Virtual reality market testing is also cheaper in the long run, as companies don’t have to build a physical mock up of the product.

Numerous companies have transitioned to use VR technology to their benefit. Nestle used Decision Insight software in an effort to increase ice cream sales at various retailers, and through a series of tests found ways to increase their revenue by 53 percent.

Five Alternative Uses of Virtual Reality Technology Outside of Gaming - Image 1

Image Courtesy of Rutgers University Online

Virtual Reality Room Service

Marriott Hotels have recently taken the concept of vacation to a whole new level, implementing a new virtual reality room service experience. Through a collaboration with Samsung, Marriott

developed the hotel industry’s first ever virtual reality experience. The initiative unveiled at the Marriott Marquis Manhattan and the London Marriott Park Lane, where guests can now order VRoom Service complete with a virtual reality set and headphones, allowing them to take trip-within-a-trip.

The headsets, called VR Postcards, come preloaded with virtual postcards from places all over the world--anywhere from an ice cream shop in Rwanda to a mountain range in Chile. Users simply select a destination, sit back, and explore the locale in an immersive 360-degree environment. Each postcard follows a real traveler exploring the destination, and wearers come along for the ride.

With this new technology, Marriott hopes that by allowing travelers to sample destinations, visitors will be encouraged to actually visit.

Treating Phobias Such as Public Speaking

Gallup polls indicate that as many as 40 percent of all Americans are afraid of public speaking, but with VR technology, many are able to reduce their stage fright. One public speaking simulator puts users in a virtual room filled with people waiting to hear you speak, where users are able to adjust both the number and attitude of the people they’re speaking in front of.

Bloomberg was an early adopter of this software, and in June of last year, the company showed off a prototype of their own public speaking simulator, using it internally for their own staff. Jeff Marshall, a Fixed Income Analyst at Bloomberg, tried the device before unveiling it, noting that it’s most significant feature alerted the speaker if they were paying too much attention to one side of the room. This allows speakers to fix bad speaking habits before the presentation itself.

Future models of the application are in the works, which would calculate how many times the speaker says fill in words like like, um, or you know.

Crime Scene Investigation

Researchers from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, and Indiana University have begun developing IC-Crime--software which reconstructs crime scenes, giving detectives and investigators a 3D replica of a crime scene from which they can evaluate the area from any angle.

Crime scene investigation is typically more laborious and less advanced, with investigators relying heavily on photographs, sketches, and field notes. But with the help of laser scanners, high-definition scanners, and a gaming engine, crime scenes are able to be recreated in a virtual environment.

In addition to rendering 3D scenes, this technology also allows police to interact with each other, place notes where important evidence has been found. Perhaps most significantly, the technology allows users to develop and test what-if scenarios, allowing investigators to test various theories about the events that occurred.

This blog is listed under Development & Implementations and Digital Media & Games Community

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