Virtual reality is becoming nearly as ubiquitous as regular reality.
It has infiltrated industries as broad as healthcare, gaming, education, travel, and everything in between.
To insert oneself into a fantasy land, directly into the story or imagination of another, has been a human dream for many years, oft apparent in science fiction. We creatively try to mimic the effect in writing and film, but we are immersed in thought alone.
But virtual reality has finally found its way to the consumer market as well as the business sector and continues to grow.
In fact, virtual reality is expected to be a $30 billion industry by 2020.
With that kind of growth, there are a lot of openings for startups and entrepreneurs to take part in this digital revolution.
Here are some of the ways virtual reality is already impacting various global industries:
- Expedia’s VR tour of rooms during booking
- Virtual exploration of monuments and cities
- Adding entertainment to long flights
- Virtual lessons with manipulable, 3D versions of course material, e.g. a model of a cell
- Virtual field trips to engage students
- Surgeon and doctor training on virtual patients
- Telemedicine and long-distance surgery
- Training not only humans but also robots for low gravity environments through the addition of harnesses and treadmills
The list certainly doesn’t end there, and there are plenty of opportunities to come in nearly every industry. One great thing about virtual reality is that it lets you do everything you would normally do in real life, except virtually. Plus, it lets you do all sorts of things you could never dream of in real life.
If nothing else, there’s a huge opening in the simulators market alone. We are already seeing sims for roller coasters and skydiving. One needs to only look toward the success of various pre-existing, non-VR simulators such as a Goat Simulator and the cadre of farming simulators to see a long list of ideas.
No need to stick to reality, because the imagination truly is the limit when it comes to VR save for two things:
Senses and mobility.
Right now, virtual reality is predominantly sight and sound, but other senses are coming quickly.
Among the most outstanding is FeelReal, the creators of a virtual reality mask that hosts a variety of new sensations to deepen VR immersion. Among its offerings are wind, heating, cooling, mist, vibration, and smell.
Smell is a reasonably new concept in virtual reality.
There are a few other companies who offer scent generators with virtual reality experiences including erotic company CamSoda’s OhRoma which can create scents such as “panties” for more intimate VR experiences.
Touch, although not widely used yet in the consumer market, has seen leaps forward in the business sector. Among the most relevant uses of VR haptic feedback is remote surgery during which surgeons must feel pressure feedback from the body of their patient.
Taste is still a baby technology in VR, but combinations of jaw and taste bud stimulating electrodes offer the beginnings of taste and texture simulation and modification.
The other issue with virtual reality today is that it requires hardwire that is often bulky, wired, and cumbersome. While some users have overcome this obstacle by placing their hardware into backpacks, truly tetherless VR for the consumer industry is still a bit into the future.
There is still a lot of room to grow in the virtual reality industry for the simple fact that it crosses over into so many other niches with nearly no limitations. Full immersion is on the horizon, but many entrepreneurs and startups will pave the path to truly sci-fi virtual reality. VR offers a perfect opportunity for a high-tech entrepreneur to leap onto the digital frontier.