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Virtual reality: Hot trends for 2019

January 14, 2019

Virtual reality: Hot trends for 2019
Imagine this: You’re shopping for a new car, but the latest model you want isn’t on the showroom floor. What are your options—simply wait for its arrival? Purchase the car sight unseen? Perhaps neither, thanks to virtual reality (VR), which is beginning to transform how companies market vehicles and how buyers can experience them.
Last year, Lexus was among the first to embrace VR. It created a VR marketing campaign to let potential buyers explore the newest models and give people a 3D immersive experience to whet their appetites using a custom-designed VR simulator.
Turns out, VR in automotive sales isn’t the only hot trend you’ll see in 2019. Here are several others you’ll likely see grow in the coming year—all of which are contributing to global VR market growth that’s expected to generate $26.89 billion in revenue by 2022.
Growth in VR content and 360-degree videos: Virtual reality isn’t just about gaming. It’s also about delivering exhilarating, immersive experiences in the form of 360-degree videos. Apps like Within, Littlestar and YouTube make it easy to download and digest these videos across multiple VR platforms. Not surprisingly, the library of VR content is growing by the hour. Entertainment creators are busy creating an ever-expanding library of movies, documentaries, music and even live sports for VR video, and the list will surely grow exponentially in 2019.
Rise in social VR: When Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, many wondered why the world’s largest social network wanted to own a VR company that specialized in single-user experiences. Yet today, Facebook views VR as the next logical step in the evolution of social networking and is aggressively developing interactive VR features for its social media platform. Currently, that platform includes enabling Facebook users to meet friends in an immersive environment where images and 3D objects can be shared, and where users can see each other and converse just like in person. Other major VR players, such as Microsoft, Google, HTC, Samsung and Sony, have already joined the effort to integrate the single-user experience with the social one—signaling a coming transformation in the way we all communicate, educate, socialize, romance and shop. 
Expanded VR applications in healthcare: The healthcare industry was an early adopter of VR while most industries were still on the sidelines, and that adoption continues to gain speed and traction. Today, VR encompasses everything from surgery simulation, PTSD treatment, virtual robotic surgery and skills training (without any risk to patients). One system called HumanSim, for example, enables doctors and nurses to interact in virtual training scenarios with others in an immersive 3D environment. VR has also proved to be an effective distraction technique for dementia patients. A solution called ImmersiCare offers calming scenes that have been shown to reduce stress in dementia patients by 70%. From high blood pressure to pain management, more VR applications in the healthcare industry are sure to come.
A transformed shopping experience: VR, along with its sister technology augmented reality (AR), will continue to reshape the retail world and revolutionize how people buy products. VR can provide a deeply immersive experience in the form of a virtual shop for buyers, and AR would help buyers visualize specific products in the real world. Using VR and AR together, a buyer could visualize how a sofa would look in his or her living room or experiment with where the new furniture would fit best. This same idea could also apply to buying jewelry, lifestyle products and more. The benefits are clear: With VR/AR shopping apps, customers can explore a number of virtual showrooms, gain new levels of in-store engagement and enjoy a more immersive shopping experience—driving new levels of e-commerce and also in-store retail sales.
Full-dive VR getting closer: While not here yet, the concept of full-dive VR is the holy grail of VR. It’s the concept of a fully immersive VR experience involving all of the body’s five senses—sight, sound, smell, touch and taste—an experience so realistic that one could barely separate it from true reality. The applications for such a technology could be almost endless, from medical purposes to training to the ultimate in leisure activities—promising potential benefits to those suffering from chronic pain—the aging or the disabled. This technology could still be decades away, but a growing number of companies and research institutions are working hard to lay the foundation that will ultimately support this technology. One of them is Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, which strives to bridge the gap between computers and the human brain.
The world of VR is growing fast. For more information on VR, including what solutions are available today and how they can benefit your customers, contact the experts at Ingram Micro.