Most people know VR when it comes to gaming or video streaming; these are the main uses for which popular headsets like the Meta Quest and Sony PS VR are marketed. Similarly, AR is best known for mobile apps like Snapchat and Pokemon Go. However, other uses for these technologies are widespread and continually growing.
XR tech for work, education, healthcare and art are all part of an overall trend toward interconnectivity and automation in the modern economy. This momentum was undoubtedly accelerated by pandemic lockdowns and remote work, but as you can tell from the history of VR, this movement has been in the making for decades. To better understand the current state of VR-related technology and where it’s headed in the future, it’s helpful to know about some of the many use cases that exist today.
Examples of XR in education
The technology is quickly being adopted for education, with many AR/VR apps already available for use in the classroom. Examples include a VR game that lets you build cells of the body and watch how they function and AR apps that place historical figures and events in the room with students in 3D. Today, most apps for education use AR via smartphones and tablets, but in the future, more classrooms may have VR devices like smart goggles and headsets.
These virtual experiences promise a learning environment that’s more interactive and engaging for today’s digital native generation. In addition, XR-based lessons and virtual field trips can offer a few distinct advantages over traditional education methods:
- Lower cost than traveling or buying specialized equipment for hands-on learning;
- Improved safety and risk management;
- Encouragement of active learning and multiple learning styles;
- Immersive, fun, and memorable lessons.
Examples of XR for health and safety
Some of XR’s most compelling uses may be in the field of medicine, and in fact, virtuality in healthcare is nothing new. VR treatments for PTSD began in the 1990s and today more doctors are utilizing VR for trauma-focused therapy, allowing veterans to recall and cope with their experiences in a safe environment. To help even further, Verizon partnered with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) in the initiative “Project Convergence” to provide Medivis’ 3D technology and other VR technology to offset some of the expenses and struggles veterans face when seeking healthcare.
Another rapidly growing use of the technology is in surgical operations. AR and VR have proved useful for training with simulated surgeries, but some hospitals are even performing augmented surgery on live patients, using AR overlays as a kind of x-ray vision for doctors. There are also collaborative surgeries using AR/MR, where surgeons can stand together in a room as avatars and view holographic displays over the patient.
These are just a few examples of XR tech in healthcare; many other cases exist today that may only be a preview of what will soon be possible, such as:
- XR can help patients communicate their symptoms and help doctors describe treatments with interactive visual aids.
- Continued development of XR systems, along with enhanced performance through 5G networks, will enable improved training and collaboration among medical teams around the world.
- AR apps could aid in safety and emergency response by guiding users to locations of defibrillators, fire extinguishers, emergency exits, blue light phones or public safe spaces.
- First responders can train with VR simulations to prepare them for dangerous real-life scenarios.
Examples of XR in business
Many industries are embracing XR technology for collaboration among remote teams. The ability to visualize people, products or equipment virtually can be a game-changer for collaborative design and workflow. To meet this demand, companies like Microsoft are developing advanced AR headsets and enterprise software, while Meta is advertising VR workrooms in the metaverse.
The retail industry has also been a major driver of these technologies, particularly AR. The global market for AR in retail was estimated at nearly $2.5 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to more than $12 billion by 2027. For both online and brick-and-mortar stores, AR has the potential to improve the customer experience while reducing expenses. Here are some examples of how:
- “Trying on” outfits and accessories virtually, whether at home or with in-store displays;
- Taking measurements for fitting through online stores;
- Visualizing how products will look in place, with options to try different styles or sizes before buying;
- Picking and matching colors for interior design or home renovations;
- Aiding real-world navigation through cities and shopping spaces with AR cloud information;
- Expanded opportunities for advertising and content marketing in the virtual space;
- Increasing brand engagement through social sharing and customer loyalty through informational or entertainment value.
Examples of XR in art and entertainment
In addition to video games and social media, VR and AR enjoy widespread popularity for entertainment, art, activism and more. Digital artwork, virtual travel and metaverse creations promise endless possibilities. Here are some examples:
- One of the most popular uses of VR headsets is watching shows and movies, with platforms like Youtube and Bigscreen offering dedicated VR content. Most headsets also offer their own apps that let you watch Netflix or other 2D streaming in a virtual space like a living room or movie theater.
- XR technologies offer unlimited potential for artists and designers and the growing market for NFTs provides an exciting opportunity for creators to profit from their work. Apps like Tilt Brush and Masterpiece Studio enable you to create your artwork in immersive 3D.
- The app, AR Pro Interactive, is available in both Google and Apple application stores and provides an interactive look at how professional sports players perform so well. It also guides you through your own performance in certain cases.
- Virtual tourism is destined to expand greatly as more people get access to XR tech. With any VR device, you can already take virtual trips to U.S. national parks or cities around the world. With the introduction of the metaverse, there may soon be an explosion of additional destinations to explore in VR.
- AR is being used extensively to enhance real-world travel experiences as well. Many AR mobile apps can help with navigation and translation while on the go. In addition, artists can use AR to place virtual installations in real-world locations.
Artists are also embracing the technology to spark action on climate change and social justice issues. Activist creators use VR artwork and AR apps to help visualize nature in urban environments or to demonstrate changes to the planet that may happen in the future.