2023 continues to bring a lot of attention to immersive technology—from virtual reality (VR) to the metaverse. It is hard to keep up with the developments but maintaining awareness of the various trends is essential. In this article I will be discussing VR, its emerging enterprise applications, and the importance of understanding the latest VR technology.

This is a thumbnail of enterprise VR today

VR presents a digital artificial environment that simulates real-world surroundings accurately enough that observers suspend disbelief and engage with the simulated environment. The sense of immersion in the created environment is an important element of virtual reality. Entertainment (video gaming) is still a big VR market. However, enterprise applications of virtual reality are growing rapidly.

Current major enterprise VR uses include:

  • Training, simulations, and immersive learning: Learning Solutions readers and Learning Guild conference attendees are already well-informed about these applications. Follow the links at the beginning of this sentence to find out more.
  • Design and modeling: Architects, engineers, and product designers can collaborate and prototype at a distance, using 3-D models in VR.
  • Virtual events and conferences: VR is beginning to host virtual events and networking. For example, the focus on climate change is receiving help through the metaverse in the fight to save the environment. To bring this about, Microsoft and Accenture are joining with The World Economic Forum to establish the Polar Tipping Points Hub. This is a VR collaboration space where business leaders can use interactive features that help them visualize and understand emerging climate issues.
  • Remote work collaboration: With similar dynamics to virtual events and conferences, this use creates stronger engagement and team building than using 2-D conference software.
  • Marketing and consumer research: Brands can use VR experiences to promote and showcase products, to demonstrate products, and to do data collection and user testing.

As the technology improves, the simulations are becoming more like the real world, a phenomenon referred to as “”hyper-realistic virtual reality.” Other developments include integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in virtual reality. Readers who are interested in seeing the latest on these applications may find it useful to check out the VR/AR Association (VRARA).

Why is it important to stay current on VR technology?

Although it can be confusing and difficult to keep up, there are two main reasons for making the effort to continually understand the current state of VR technology.

First, having that understanding allows you to evaluate whether the technology has become mature enough for your needs. VR headsets are still evolving rapidly, so it’s helpful to know how much they have progressed on factors like display resolution, field of view, form factor, tracking capabilities, and input methods.

Second, the effort is worth it because it keeps you aware of the latest innovations, applications, and breakthroughs in VR. Monitoring advancements can reveal opportunities to leverage VR in new ways as the technology improves. For example, eye tracking is one new component that unlocks more immersive user experiences. This has uses in web site design and market research, and in other situations when you need to know where people are looking, what they looked at first or next, and how long they looked.

What are the important things to know about Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro in November, 2023?

Keeping up with the capabilities of the leading headsets and VR software informs purchasing decisions. Select options that align with the complexity of your VR projects and the capabilities you require. Understanding current consumer vs enterprise options (and knowing the difference) helps find the right fit.

Keeping up shapes your VR rollout and content strategy. Being aware of hardware limitations and platform differences allows you to scope effective VR solutions and avoid issues down the line. You can set realistic goals for visual fidelity and interaction design.

Understanding the devices enables comparison of different vendors and platforms. With knowledge of the competitive landscape, you can determine which headset SDKs, workflows, and tools best meet your development needs.

Expert opinion

According to Dr. Rolf Illenberger, founder and managing director of VR Direct, VR technology is steadily advancing in ways that will drive change in both the consumer market and enterprise use. In a recent interview, he offered his insights:

“For Meta, the launch of the Meta Quest 3 is still a market share play, as it seeks to continue to dominate the consumer market. You must remember, Meta has several years up on Apple in a hypothetical battle of VR/AR devices and Apple’s first-gen Vision Pro was built with developers, not consumers, in mind. The pre-existing consumer-focused infrastructure on the Meta Quest 3, combined with a nine-figure marketing campaign, will still leave Meta as the established player in the consumer space for the near future.

Looking ahead, Rolf told me, “People are quite excited about the Meta Quest 3. I think it really has a pretty good chance at the market right now, especially because it comes right when a lot of large enterprises are taking this decision as to which VR hardware they are going to bet on. In addition, the Meta Quest 3 will deliver on many promises made in last year’s Meta Connect keynote, like the partnership with Microsoft resulting in Teams being available on these devices, a true must when it comes to businesses integrating VR into their IT setup and internal processes.

“The Meta Quest 3 won’t be a game changer, but it will lead the way to broad adoption of VR at the B2B (Business to Business) level,” Illenberger said. "For enterprises looking to procure a large number of devices, Meta provides a great option. The Quest 3 will be completely capable to handle most B2B use cases."

As I noted at the beginning of this article, for a couple of decades most attention concerning VR has been its application to video games. Today, according to Dr. Illenberger, VR/AR technologies are showing their transformative power in dealing with training, marketing, design, science, and medicine, in addition to entertainment. In all those fields, the common benefit of VR has been the facilitation of communication and understanding.

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and VR is all about assisting visual understanding of complexity.