For many consumers, virtual reality is simply the next trend in high-tech gaming. But while VR does continue to offer exciting new entertainment opportunities, businesses are also discovering innovative applications for this immersive technology. 

Used for everything from retail experiences to medical training, VR’s popularity is growing rapidly among both businesses and consumers. Below, 14 Forbes Technology Council members share some of the most promising ways VR is being used today and why these practical uses are particularly effective.

1. Training And Onboarding

From a business perspective, I have observed that, during the pandemic, virtual reality has been a highly cost-effective and time-efficient tool for training, ranging from onboarding new virtual employees to teaching advanced skills through simulation. VR simulates real activities, which can help companies avoid the breakage or destruction of expensive assets and eliminate work-related accidents. – Alfredo Ramirez, Vyopta

2. Field Maintenance

I have seen VR employed for field maintenance in a rail yard. This can be a very inhospitable environment for humans. Companies can send a few technicians to fix an issue, leveraging VR to involve other remote personnel in working on the problem. – Guy Courtin, Tecsys Inc.


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3. Guided Self-Service Maintenance

I have seen VR effectively used by manufacturers to reduce service costs. With the pandemic and the accompanying decrease in travel by service professionals, manufacturers are leveraging VR by having customers wear VR headsets. The customers are guided by service reps working from home in diagnosing and fixing industrial products. This has resulted in self-service options, reduced service costs and new service lines for manufacturers. – Buyan Thyagarajan, Eigen X

4. Upskilling And Reskilling

VR can play an important role in efficiently upskilling and reskilling workers, especially in the midst of the “Great Resignation.” For instance, VR and mixed reality can introduce advanced training initiatives that create experiences for people to practice specific tasks or newly learned skills ahead of time before entering the field or job site. – Jim Xiao, Mason

5. Securing Digital Assets

Organizations are increasingly relying on security operations centers to protect and secure their knowledge bases and intellectual property. A SOC is a focused facility where security specialists monitor, assess and defend against computer security issues. Introducing virtual and augmented reality technologies into this environment can enhance team performance, which translates into opportunity gains. – Manan Shah, Avalance Global Solutions

6. 3D Data And Images

Using VR and AR to transform 2D data and images into 3D enables new and actionable insights. The best example of this is in medicine today, where surgical planning in 3D has quickly become the standard of care. In 3D, surgeons can see things they never would have been able to see, and patients can understand and engage in a way that is simply not possible when looking at 2D radiology images. – Jennifer Esposito, Magic Leap

7. Healthcare Training

Room-scale VR can be effective when training healthcare professionals on procedures that require them to figure out the best way to position themselves relative to the patient, such as intubation or CPR. We’ve seen that VR is always best used when a crucial first question is asked: How does VR add value to this experience versus creating unnecessary work or cognitive overload? – Sam Glassenberg, Level Ex

8. Operating Room Monitors

The most spectacular and real-life application of mixed reality is in the medical industry. These types of solutions are already working well in operating rooms as expanded monitors that provide current data and preview information. They are also used to display surgical fields and ablation procedures. Uses of MR in medicine are not only spectacular—they also lower costs and decrease errors. – Robert Strzelecki, TenderHut

9. Treatment Of Stress And Anxiety

The use cases of virtual reality in clinical psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology are very promising. VR therapy helps people overcome anxiety, panic attacks and phobias such as fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of enclosed spaces, fear of driving, fear of public speaking, job interview anxiety and more. It is also effective for insomnia, stress management and mindfulness. – Nikhil Pachhandara, OPTOFIDELITY

10. Breakout Sessions

In my company, we’ve been utilizing VR to facilitate breakout sessions in corporate meetings. By allowing people to meet up to jot down notes, draw on the whiteboard or just “play”—all while sitting in their own spaces around the world—we’ve been able to bring back a sense of connection that has been missing from a lot of office communication. – Heather Wilde, theDifference Consulting

11. Creative Work

The most interesting things that actually happen right now in VR happen in the area of creativity, such as art and games. This starts with attempts to combine the real and the virtual in one space in games and ends with the works of certain artists. Before VR, artists could present themselves only in two-dimensional reality, but now their ideas can be seen as three-dimensional. – Andrey Ustyugov, Planner 5D

12. Retail Marketing

Retail businesses, specifically those in the fashion industry, have made tremendous strides in how they market to customers with VR. People can now see themselves wearing clothes and accessories in the comfort of their homes. I think this is effective because shoppers are hesitant to buy these types of products without trying them on first. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

13. Guided Workouts

Using the Oculus and having guided workouts with the real people within has been quite effective for me. Not only was I able to burn some calories in a seemingly real scenario, I realized that the guides are real people outside the VR system itself. That gave me trust, ideas and an open portal to bridge the gap between the real and virtual world. That has helped me continue to work out and gain trust. – WaiJe Coler, InfoTracer

14. Billboard Advertising

I love 3D billboards. The creative is custom designed for the medium and commands attention from those passing by. Branded Cities recently created an incredible campaign for Amazon Prime in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square. It’s a beautiful use of technology, creativity and innovation! – Amanda Dorenberg, COMMB



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