Step outside the world you know and venture into a new, virtual experience—it’s possible with virtual reality, the next big tech wave, and it’s showing up in unusual places. Going beyond the thinking of just using it just for games, companies around the world are applying innovative VR programs with great success. Here are a few of the most interesting examples:
Home improvement store Lowe’s is using VR to address a common home renovation dilemma—not being able to picture how everything will fit together in the new space. The Lowe’s Holoroom allows users to put together a home improvement project on an app and then “step into” the room using virtual reality goggles to see what it would be like to walk around the space. Users can then change flooring materials, cabinets, paint colors, furniture, and more to get a full idea of the finished project. It’s the perfect example of trying before you buy—or before you start to tear down walls. The Holoroom is currently available in 19 Lowe’s stores across the U.S. with plans to grow the program to more stores in the future.
Basketball fans wanting to get more of the game experience can use VR for exclusive content and a fresh way to connect with their favorite team. During the 2016 NBA Finals, Budweiser sponsored a VR experience for Cleveland Cavaliers fans when they handed out cardboard VR handsets that also conveniently doubled as beer holders. The Cavs were one of the first teams to incorporate VR into their app, which fans could access by placing their phone in the VR handset. Fans could experience four VR videos including a tour of the locker room and a courtside view of the player introductions, giving them an inside look at the life on an NBA player. Don’t worry if you’re not a Cavs fan—there are already plans in place to expand the technology with more videos for more teams.
Love to shop but hate dealing with crowds at the mall? eBay and Myer are launching the first ever virtual reality department store. It has the selection you would expect from a large store, but it’s personalized to recommend products you would likely enjoy. The store uses new technology called Sight Search that allows you to navigate around the “store” simply by using your eyes. The technology allows users to get closer looks at products they are interested in, see more details, and even purchase just with their eyes. The more you shop, the more the store learns your preferences and can further customize the experience, making shopping a fun and interactive experience.
One of the most important and expensive parts of the college application process is visiting campuses to learn more about the programs and environment. After all, there’s no better way to see if the school is a good match than to check out the campus. YouVisit taps into virtual reality technology to give potential college students the real campus experience without having to travel around the country. Incorporating rich technology and information into the tour, students can virtually work their way through campus while learning about the history and programs in the area. It’s essentially everything a student would get from an in-person tour but all done virtually. YouVisit has videos, 360-degree panoramic tours, and VR tours for hundreds of campuses across the country.
Another take on VR technology allows you to enjoy a concert in high definition from the comfort of your own living room. Concert promotion company Live Nation is teaming up with NextVR and Citi to stream 10 concerts of virtual reality headsets over the coming years on the NextVR app. Aside from an immersive up-close view of the music, VR users will also have exclusive access to sound checks and dressing rooms. The goal is to take users behind the scenes and introduce them to new areas of the concert experience.
Virtual reality is on the rise, and its surge is sure to continue as technology like flash storage continues to grow. These groundbreaking companies show that VR can be applied to nearly any situation to take the user experience to the next level.