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article imageZuckerberg further verifies the validity of virtual reality

By Jenna Cyprus     Apr 17, 2015 in Technology
Like it or not, virtual reality is closer than you think. The technology is already here, it’s just a matter of encouraging widespread adoption and finding ways to adapt it to meet lifestyle demands.
And while there are many potential uses, industry experts believe virtual reality’s ultimate destination lies within America’s businesses and corporations.
The Shifting Face of Content
In the early days of Facebook, communication was primarily conducted via text. However, over the years, the focus has shifted away from “wall posts” and “pokes” and towards photos, videos, and other interactive digital elements. So, what’s the next fundamental shift?
CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg recently described that progression to an enamored San Francisco audience at the Facebook’s f8 Developers Conference. He carefully outlined the future of social media communication and not-so-subtly mentioned how the company sees virtual reality fitting into the equation.
“If you look back at Facebook five years ago, most of the content that people shared was text – status updates and wall posts. Now, it’s photos,” Zuckerberg said. “If you fast-forward five years, it’s going to be video.” He then went on to discuss what everyone was hoping he would mention: virtual and augmented reality, saying, “If you look even further beyond that, it’s probably going to be more immersive content like VR and AR.”
It’s not that Zuckerberg’s interest in pursuing immersive VR content is surprising – after all, Facebook purchased Oculus VR for roughly $2 billion last summer – but rather that it signals VR could be closer to mainstream adoption than the average person thinks.
But don’t get too excited just yet. As Nermin Hajdarbegovic writes in this blog post, “The technology is almost there, but it does not come cheap, and is anything but portable.” In other words, the average consumer is going to find it difficult to purchase a VR device and find practical use for it in everyday life. On the other hand, large corporations and businesses – with much deeper pockets – may find more immediate use.
VR and American Business
That begs the question, how will VR be used in corporate America? There are dozens of potential uses, and much will depend on the software developed for the devices, but a few stand out from the pack.
One idea is that certain businesses could utilize VR to create an entirely new desktop environment for employees. Jinha Lee’s experimental SpaceTop technology sees a world where we could one day integrate 2D and spatial 3D interactions in a transparent desktop environment. “SpaceTop allows users to type, click, draw in 2D, and directly manipulate interface elements that float in the 3D space above the keyboard,” writes Lee. It would be a sort of “hybrid” desktop that would allow people to make the most of the space they have. The goal is to have a more natural, hands-on feel. But, the idea would be very difficult and expensive to develop, so the practicality isn’t completely known at this point.
Another - much more realistic - use is for employee training. Whether it’s an office job or field job, employers could use VR to better equip new employees with the skills, knowledge, and familiarity they need before starting the job. “Whether training soldiers on a combat field or sales reps at the customer location, virtual reality provides the ability to enter the world to train and get better, without ever leaving your office,” says industry analyst, Jeff Kagan.
Many believe VR could further improve existing videoconferencing technology and help reduce business-related travel and associated costs. It would be a step better than the technology currently being used and would make people feel like they’re in actual face-to-face meetings, as opposed to merely looking at screens.
However, consumers may have something to look forward to after all. It’s quite possible that businesses could start using VR technology during the sales process. Salespeople could more efficiently move potential customers through the conversion funnel by allowing them to experience products or services prior to purchasing them. For example, instead of merely viewing photos of a home, a transplant moving to a new city could take a virtual walkthrough without needing to hop on a plane.
VR is Close to Becoming Reality
While we’re not quite there yet, Zuckerberg and other industry experts know VR technology is close. And if it has any hope of catching on, it’s likely American businesses and corporations that will become early adopters. However, only time will tell.
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