How virtual reality could transform your business

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift could change much more than just the gaming world

Note: Our virtual reality for business feature has been fully updated. This article was first published in November 2014.

With orders for the first batch of Oculus Rift headsets currently being processed, VR has finally moved out of the development phase to become a real and tangible technology that anyone can now get their hands on. For businesses this could mean a whole new channel to experiment with. From education to shopping, VR is exciting businesses with the possibilities.

Not since the golden age of VR in the 1980s has the technology generated so much anticipation amongst consumers and businesses alike. The early vision in the 1950s from VR pioneers Douglas Engelbart and later Ivan Sutherland, then Jaron Lanier has now become a reality.

Outside of the gaming sector where VR will show what it is capable of to a waiting public, VR as a business tool has also been rapidly developing. Since the early developer units were available from Oculus, many enterprises have been experimenting with these new virtual spaces. Jaguar created what it called its 'Actual Reality' VR experience with a custom headset and a hydraulic platform with six-degrees of movement to create a fully immersive experience for its new F-Type car.

Shopping has also experimented with virtual stores that you can move through albeit on a two-dimensional screen. Cheap access to a VR-like environment thanks to Google Cardboard makes for the perfect platform to offer a more interactive and tactile virtual shopping experience, as Trillenium is developing right now. We could all be experiencing what has been dubbed 'V-commerce' pretty soon.

HTC vive and controller

Virtual reality is set to make a big impact this year

To gain an insight into how VR will influence the products and services businesses will develop using the technology, Techradar Pro spoke with a number of leading enterprises actively developing for the virtual environment. These included the following…

Dean Johnson, Head of Innovation, Brandwidth

The experience of 30 years in the design, tech and publishing industries has resulted in Dean's broad skill-base, all brought into play at Brandwidth, with brand creation, development and application at the heart, working across digital storytelling, narrative and audience engagement.

Mark Curtis, Founder and CCO at Fjord

Mark's first company was Curtis Hoy, which pioneered radio sales promotion from 1989. Highlights included introducing fixed frequency low-cost radios as a sampling driver for the Pepsi taste test, bringing drive-in movies to the UK for the first time ever (Diet Pepsi) and designing the first marketing use of virtual reality in 1993 (for a Unilever brand).

Albert (Bertie) Millis, Managing Director, Virtual Umbrella

Bertie manages the world's first marketing agency specifically aimed at helping virtual reality companies develop and grow their businesses. The firm works with developers and production studios, helping to promote their services to the general public and large brands seeking to create experiences using virtual reality.

Chris Savage, CEO of Wistia

Chris Savage is the chief executive and co-founder of Wistia, a video marketing and analytics platform that helps businesses host, customise, and measure video content.

Amelia Kallman, Innovation Consultant, Engage Works

Engage Works is behind the Flux LDN Innovation Lounge (one of the TimeOut blog's five hot venues to check out). It's a global business that has just expanded to Dubai. VR is a key part of Engage's offering and the company hosts headsets in its Innovation Lounge.

Alasdair Lennox, Executive Creative Director, FITCH

Over the last few years, Alasdair has led FITCH EMEA to win awards at Cannes Lions, LIAs, Eurobest, World Retail Awards Store Design of the Year and Retail Week Interior Awards: Design Team of the Year. He has judged at Cannes Lions, the Brandrepublic Digital Awards and D&AD New Blood.

Luke Ritchie, Executive Producer, Nexus Interactive Arts

Luke oversees the management, strategy and day-to-day running of Interactive Arts in London. In 2016 he guides the company's involvement in Google's Made w/Code initiative which has seen the development of many interactive web projects and the fantastic real-time installation, Holiday Trees, in front of the White House.

Joss Davidge, Director of the Unexpected, BEcause Brand Experience

With nearly 30 years of marketing experience on both the agency and client side, Joss believes that you have to be challenging creatively to grow business sales. He says that technology is reshaping our world, and only those businesses that can leverage these changes will be successful.