Is this the real life? Is this just virtual reality?

One of the most fascinating aspects of my recent piece on ITWORX Education, was how they were utilising technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), to devise novel ways to educate children.

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Is this the real life? Is this just virtual reality? Alexander Sophoclis Pieri, editor of ACN.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  January 9, 2017

Currently focused on geography and history, ITWORX intends to utilise VR to help students experience places that are beyond their capacity to visit. Examples include visiting global landmarks, such as the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or taking a virtual tour of a Neolithic settlement.

While certainly a bold approach for the education space, I began to wonder about the different possibilities that VR could have for other market segments.

Virtual reality was featured prominently at last year’s GITEX Technology Week, and many who had the opportunity to attend the event, probably recall passing by German Medical Reference’s (GMR) stand and seeing their VR human body experience.

Using a virtual reality headset, visitors were able to interact with a full 3D model of a human body, removing the different layers and taking a closer look at the various organs. This application of VR greatly impacts the study of human anatomy, particularly in places across the world where access to a human cadaver is at a premium.

VR could also impact the retail segment with stores offering virtual tours of their shops. From the comfort of their homes, customers would be able to take a virtual tour of the store, see what is available, and then either make the trip to the mall to conduct a purchase, or simply order the product online.

Similarly, real estate agencies could utilise VR to provide tours of the various properties they have on offer. In September 2016, property classified platform dubizzle did just that, bringing on-board 360VUZ to launch a VR tour service offering 360° views of
promoted properties.

Once the service goes live, it will allow customers to browse and access tours straight from dubizzle’s main page, giving them intimate knowledge of the property, before even contacting the associated agent.

Within the architecture space, we already know of building designers and developers that are utilising VR in conjunction with building information modelling (BIM), to aid in the design of new structures and whole districts.

Building upon this application though, virtual reality could also be utilised as part of the initial pitch to potential investors, to showcase the user experience surrounding the new structure or facility.

In the case of theme parks for example, developing a new ride or attraction can prove to be a costly affair.

While a 3D model can show what the final product may look like, it doesn’t necessarily indicate what the experience will be for the visitors to the park.

Utilising a VR headset, potential investors could take a walking tour of the park, visit the various concession stands, as well as embarking on a digital ride of one of the proposed rollercoasters.

This experience could be end up being the tipping point in transforming a concept conceived within a virtual environment, into a hugely successful global attraction.

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