There is no one on the planet who hasn't been lured by the promise of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality! Every few years, a new hype cycle starts only to fizzle out, but we think this time the technology, the investment, and the momentum is finally going to mainstream the VR industry.
(A quick definition – Virtual reality is an entirely computer-generated, self-contained simulated ecosystem. This AR environment is experienced through a headset and could be anything – a game, a military training exercise, or a spacewalk. Augmented Reality, on the other hand, is an experience where computer-generated simulations are added to real-world situations. It is not a complete digital environment, rather an enhancement.)
Tech giants are pumping billions into the industry and will ensure that the consumers get a complete and mature ecosystem around the VR technology.
Facebook purchased Oculus for a whopping $2Billion in 2016 and has turned it into the Go-To brand for headsets. Google is another company heavily invested AND interested in VR – they created the famous (super cheap) Google Cardboard headsets and are now exploring the broader ecosystem of VR apps and software. At the other end of the price spectrum is HTC, with its HTC Vive headset aimed at the VR aficionados.
The next few years are definitely going to be very exciting! From fully immersive gaming experiences to bite-sized point and consume advertisements – VR/AR technology has entered many facets of our lives and is wide-ranging enough to cater to the whole spectrum of interests and budgets.
For Mila Partners, we recommend that you look closely at the intersection of VR and Healthcare.
Currently, the use of VR in the healthcare sector is limited to organisations such as training institutes and hospitals, etc. VR is extensively used as a training tool and by doctors for therapies such as pain management, and for treating disorders such as autism, PTSD, and anxiety.
However, the expansion of healthcare wearables, smartphones, and smart home technology is bringing these fascinating medical VR interventions to an individual outside the clinics.
Some examples of how your clients/homeowners could benefit from medical VR are -
Helping autistic and disabled children and adults – VR applications (using a gamification approach) are being widely used for helping people on the autistic spectrum enhance their communication skills and social behaviour.
Better diagnosis with VR - When paired with a simple medium like Google Glasses, VR enables doctors to scan multiple records such as medications, MRI scans, past records on-the-go, and arrive at diagnosis more quickly and accurately.
Mental relaxation and help for patients - Pain management, anxiety, and stress before a medical procedure can now be managed with VR. For long term solutions VR is being offered more widely as a part of psychological therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy, phobia treatment, or for handling PTSD.
Enhancing empathy and understanding – VR applications are also being used to make doctors and caregivers understand the specific disabilities or patient problems. By building training simulations of interactive environments, they can replicate challenges of certain illnesses (such as deafness, visual impairment, or Alzheimer’s) and use their experience to provide better care.
Using VR gamification for physical therapy - Immersive VR games are being used with great success as a form of rehab too. The VR games make the sessions more enjoyable and are providing significantly better outcomes for patients who have suffered a spinal injury or brain injury as well as for children with cerebral palsy.
The Bottom Line
Medical VR/AR industry is projected to reach $30.4 billion by 2026 and is being driven by smart wearables and fuelled by focused investments made by Google, Samsung Electronics, Intouch Technologies, Psious in the sector.
So, it is safe to say that you will be fielding questions from your clients about VR/AR healthcare solutions soon enough. We suggest you use some of the points mentioned above to research in more depth about what you can offer your current client base. So that when you get a question, you will be able to give them correct and detailed information!