Where Will Virtual Reality Take Us?

Rebecca Bonnington
Where Will Virtual Reality Take Us?

Being in a virtual world is strange to say the least. Being a Virtual Reality (VR) virgin until recently, I felt that it was the domain of gamers and geeks, something for people who are younger and more tech savvy than me.

It’s great to be wrong.

After experiencing the two virtual worlds created and demonstrated by the brilliant Eventual in a converted warehouse in a scruffy/up and coming part of Glasgow, I was instantly hooked. Not only did I think I was about to fall off a stage at one point, but I was also very careful not to tread in the water which was built as a design feature for the speaker auditorium they had created for a Ted Talk speaker.

Standing in the corner of the office with my VR head set on, I felt like a character from Blade Runner. The rectangular headset immerses you into a darkened computer-generated world. The real world is shut out, the only connection to it being the hand held remote controls and your feet firmly planted on the ground.

As you use your remote control handsets to move about the virtual world, you can choose to listen to music, realistic sound effects to match your virtual world or wander around in total silence. It takes a few moments to acclimatise yourself and then you are off exploring the nooks and crannies that the programmer has designed for your world.

It’s not quite photo realistic, but its close enough to fool your brain into thinking you’re really on a stage, about to give a talk to an impressive auditorium.

Without naming names, I also experienced the VIP suite at a well-known sporting stadium, ready to watch the action live with my friends in VR who could be anywhere in the world and in the VIP suite with me at the same time. There was even a bar in the suite and of course I asked if I could have a drink. The two founders of the business gave me a wry smile but wouldn’t comment further.

I could, however, see the merchandise of my team on the wall and click a button in my virtual world to buy t-shirts, programmes and anything else their fan store stocked. This facility would take real money and send me real goods to my door in real time (sadly).

To say my brain popped with the limitless possibilities of this technology was an understatement.  Delivering your message, concert, performance, talk or event through Virtual Reality to a large audience is audacious and game-changing for businesses across the globe.

I immediately got onto one of my clients, who is the same age as me. She, too had avoided this high-tech world, not really understanding what it meant for her or her business. She’s arranging to go and experience VR for herself and we’ll work together to find ways to transform the size and scale of her business through this medium.

As I reflected on the way this new technology could be used in more mainstream businesses, it occurred to me that its ideal for those who are confined to one place due to ill health or disability.  Care homes and hospitals spring to mind. I am aware of one care home company actively looking into using VR to support the growing number of residents who can no longer take trips out and about.

VR has been championed by the younger generation and yet as a fully paid up member of Generation X, I can see and appreciate how important it’s going to be in our lives. My two older children who are card-carrying members of Generation Z (the one after the Millennials) already knew their smart phones came automatically VR enabled and had been using VR at school. Even my youngest, whose generation hasn’t been given a label yet had used in it in the classroom last year.

It leaves me wondering how else businesses can use this technology to augment their current products and services. Could a law firm for example use it or an accountancy practice. I’m not sure, but I do know that so called ‘traditional’ businesses need to have one eye open for the dizzying array of new technology that is coming at us in unstoppable waves.

For my part, I skipped the fashion for webinars, finding them too emotionally disconnected and now I’m wondering how I can go straight to VR and integrate into my work with ambitious businesses who want to grow.

My lesson here is that Virtual Reality is not just for gamers or geeks and no matter which of the five generations in the workplace you belong to, exploring new tech needs to form part of your strategy for growth.

What kind of legacy do you want to create with your business? Whether you want to build something to sell, pass onto the next generation or simply feel proud of, contact me for a chat on 07734 934084 or rebecca.bonnington@shirlawsgroup.com.

Stay tuned for more blogs and podcasts on Navigating Change in Uncertain Times over the coming year as we help leaders build business resilience with agility and speed.

Rebecca Bonnington