Despite the hype, it’s not yet clear if or when virtual reality (VR) technology will reach mass-market status. However, specialized applications are showing promise in a variety of industries.
The majority of VR applications are in gaming, entertainment and sports. Data from VR Intelligence and VRX Europe found that gaming will continue to be the top use of VR, and that's likely the case for the next several years. However, the study also noted that the technology will have an impact in other industries, including healthcare, retail, travel and automotive.
"Industries are experimenting with it to increase efficiency, achieve economies of scale and enhance performance," said Victoria Petrock, principal analyst at eMarketer and author of our latest report, "Virtual Reality Beyond Gaming: Solving Business Problems in Industries."
In the retail industry, for example, VR is being used to visualize virtual store layouts, fixtures, displays, signage and traffic patterns prior to store remodeling projects. It's also being used for visual merchandising, in place of traditional prototypes and planograms, to speed the concept-to-store process.
Similarly, the real estate and construction industries lend themselves well to VR. The most common applications enable users to view properties and conceptualize structures before they are built.
Meanwhile, the healthcare industry is a leader in adopting VR, using it for patient therapy, surgical training, medical visualization and research. “Two things are enabling the growth of VR in this space,” said Dr. Justin Barad, co-founder and CEO of surgical training program Osso VR. “The first has been identifying the right problems to solve. The other is having technology that is so affordable and scalable that you can do things you couldn’t do before.”
In a new episode of eMarketer's "Behind the Numbers" podcast, listen in as we break down the different VR use cases across the various industries, including virtual surgery practices and test driving experiences.