Virtual Reality has some very real applications

Written by on January 11, 2016 in Opinion with 2 Comments

virtual realityOne of the things that causes a certain degree of cynicism (surely not, Ed) at DisruptiveViews is the concept of Virtual Reality (VR). It is also a name that lends itself easily to the ‘bon mot,’ the witty rejoinder and toe tapping title beloved of journalists. Headlines such as ‘Will this be the year when Virtual Reality becomes a, er, reality?’ are too good to miss. The last such opportunity was when the Cloud was taking off and journalists simply gave in to the avalanche of corny – ‘clearing the fog from the cloud’ – type headlines.

The cynicism, we freely admit, is an age thing. Teenage game addicts are becoming so used to playing games in a different, virtual reality that they would not understand people questioning its use.

Recently, though, we tried a VR headset. It was at a conference (oddly about Big Data) and it was very strange. It was rather like the moment in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when the kids walk into a completely different world. The moment the headset popped into place I was actually in that film that involves Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and a few other super heroes (creative crisis in Hollywood, methinks). It was not only completely real (Oh, the headlines to come) but immersive, compelling and – almost certainly – horribly addictive.

Having struggled to be grown up about taking the headset off and returning to a bland world of Big Data executives, and having got over how much more fun it was to be in a bad Iron Man spin-off, I turned to the sales guy.

“So, I get that this is great fun. I can understand how kids will now have the choice to live in our dull world, or in a wonderful world of virtual reality of their choice. But are, actually, any application for this in business?”

“Definitely,” said the sales guy. “Imagine how useful a flight simulator is to the airline industry and go from there. Take the oil industry, and think about the huge challenge of training people to go under – extremely dangerous – water and check or repair bolts, valves and other very boring but important pieces of an oil rig. With virtual reality you can train people in exactly what they need to do without them needing to get their feet wet. That is just one example.”

The mind started to work. The first thing that popped into it was the example of Google Glass. Version one we laughed at, version two we smiled at, version three, we think is not only genius, but a clear example of just how clever Google really is. With both, it is now clear, your imagination, creativity and common sense are the only barriers.

Then I woke up. And went back into the Big Data conference.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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  1. Bob says:

    Bought a VR headset for the child at Christmas (Google Cardboard – no expense spared here). She found it extremely diverting, as did all the passing adults in the house. Personally, I think it’s got a real future – not least for the kinds of applications you describe above – but will reserve final judgement until we see what the p*rn industry makes of it. They’re usually quick to roadtest new content delivery innovations, iron out the kinks (sorry), and determine whether they have a commercial future.

    • Alex Leslie says:

      I just read that the makers of these VR headsets are ‘strongly’ recommending that users take a 10 minute break every half hour. Otherwise, presumably, your brain might explode.

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