The impact of virtual reality on our society

Walmart and VR
Astrid Baron - 20/09/2021

The development of virtual reality :

Wrongly associated with video games and still sometimes considered as a cutting-edge technology, virtual reality is gradually becoming more democratic. Whether through concrete cases, studies or testimonies, we will present you with concrete impacts of virtual reality. So we can ask ourselves, what is the impact of virtual reality on our society?

The growth of virtual reality

As theVonguru article points out: "The health crisis has put the spotlight back on VR. New uses such as the amounts invested, the billions of Facebook... show that VR will not disappear. It could even have a second youth."

The size of the market continues to grow. According tothe VR market research report, it reached $6.1 billion in 2016. Despite a drop in 2020 due to the pandemic, it should reach 21.6% between 2020 and 2027. The major brands are banking on these technologies, such as Sony and Microsoft.

Promising figures for the impact of virtual reality on our society: 

According to the PWC report (Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2021-2025 report), "virtual reality growth will continue and increase far more than any other media sector."

This report highlights a 31.7% increase in global revenues in 2020 compared to 2019. That's an additional $1.8 billion!

For its part, MarketsandMarkets anticipates "annual growth of nearly 28% between 2020 and 2025". VR would thus become the media segment with the strongest growth, ahead of podcasts, online video and games. Beyond the figures of the analysis firms, virtual reality is already experiencing real cases and returns on investment.

Concrete cases and telling ROIs: 

The impact of virtual reality at Walmart

Walmart and virtual reality
Photo credits: Futurism.com

Walmart uses VR on a daily basis to support its employees in their training, particularly in soft skills.

"With the pandemic, there is a question of how workers engage and interact with customers."said Heather Durtschi, senior director of learning, content design and development at Walmart in the Human Resource Executivearticle.

How do you handle conflict situations in a crisis? Walmart used virtual reality training to help them prepare for these incidents, practice empathy and minimize stress during this difficult time.

How can virtual reality help boost the employee experience?

These training modules enable them to react to certain situations, then go back and analyse their reactions, "putting themselves in the other person's shoes" before it happens.

With more than 20,000 Oculus headsets in use across the country, more than one million Walmart associates can now take advantage of immersive training sessions. According to Derek Belch, founder and CEO of Strivr: "You can do an eight-hour training course and reduce it to 15 minutes in a headset, and the learning outcome will be almost identical . "It's a return on investment that's not in doubt.

RV medical training in the USA 

In parallel, in one of the most prestigious clinics in the world in the USA (Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences), part of the medical training is now done in VR.

The virtual reality goggles allow students to be immersed in real-life scenarios, such as an operating theatre... This helps them to become familiar with their environment. Throughout the programme, thanks to VR, students are able to :

  • Assessing patients
  • To establish diagnoses
  • Recommend treatments.

All this helps to complement their learning and make it even more unique.

These two concrete examples show us that virtual reality goes far beyond simple video games. It allows for technological advances and considerable time savings in training and learning. It is a real positive impact on our society.

In more general areas, others have been convinced for much longer that virtual reality is the future of our society.

The impact of virtual reality on our society as seen by visionaries :

The democratisation of virtual reality 

Unity CEO John Riccitiello is adamant that "virtual and augmented reality devices will be as common in 2030 as video game consoles." A sobering phrase when you consider that his predictions have often proved to be true.
Mark Zuckerberg For his part, he has always had many ideas about the future of virtual reality. Interviewed at the Viva technology show, he quotes, "eventually, VR will end up occupying an important place in the next big computing platform, after phones and PCs.

Often a visionary on immersive technologies, he goes even further. In a recent interview conducted by the verge, he explains that he wants to "make Facebook a leading company in the metaverse by 2026". The metaverse allows for more immersive experiences, it blurs the barrier between real and virtual. A Facebook team is already dedicated to this project.

Finally, for him, if there is one other thing that virtual reality will unlock, it is the ability to live anywhere you want and be present in another place while feeling like you are really there. Just like the students at the clinic in the US or the Walmart employees, VR allows us to "teleport" to another place and learn in the best way possible: in total immersion.

All these technological advances, use cases and studies show us that yes, virtual reality has a real impact on our society and that it continues to grow and become more democratic.

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