VR a game-changing gold mine
Although VR is known as a tool for gaming, it has endless, untapped potential
Virtual reality (VR) is transforming the world today.
Known as a tool for gaming, VR is now a gold mine of commercial opportunities.
From healthcare, education to real estate, industries are being redefined through the use of this technology.
Besides being a medium for games, entertainment and other applications, VR is regarded as an emerging star in the works - one that has not realised its full business potential.
This is, however, fast changing.
With VR revitalising the declining arcade industry, utilising the rise of mobile gaming and redefining "total immersion" home systems, VR remains a market that remains largely untapped.
With the ability to transport a consumer to different worlds, businesses, researchers, artists and educators are using VR to deliver an array of possibilities.
Students can explore historical sites such as the Parthenon in Greece without taking a long flight, while interior designers can show clients the effect of colours and textures in the comfort of their living room.
In healthcare, VR is being used to treat cases of post-traumatic stress disorders and phobias. Patients are given moderated exposure to common triggers, such as spiders and heights.
While the market is still developing, there is immense potential.
And where investment lies, there is opportunity.
With VR, commercial appetite for traditional arcade games has grown.
The console market, which is driven by key players such as Oculus and HTC Vive, has seen a revival.
Gaming's notorious early adopters have embraced VR in the comfort of their own homes or off-site, with players investing in gaming environments.
High-end VR headsets that require powerful computing facilities are now made more available in experience centres, and technology manufacturers like HTC 2 continue to cater to rising demand.
Gattai Games, a Singaporean start-up, is a case in point.
This three-year-old game studio created Lurking, a survival thriller game in which making and listening to sounds is the only way to see.
"Virtual reality adds a whole new dimension for any industry, taking the customer experience to new heights.
"It is no different here at Gattai Games, as it enables a new window of immersion that traditional games relying on just visual and audio cues are unable to capture," said Mr Justin Ng, its co-founder.
"It is an untapped gold mine that companies should be looking to explore."
Gattai Games has already picked up multiple awards, such as Best Student Game and Excellence In Technology at IGF China 2014 for Lurking. The game was also a Sense of Wonder Night nominee at the Tokyo Games Show 2014.
Gattai Games' Stifled is a spiritual successor to Lurking.
The more familiar consumers become with VR, the more readily they embrace it as a tool for everyday life, making it a game changer in other industries.
The levels of immersion, engagement and freedom VR offers will only continue to open virtual and physical doors in the world.
With greater research and development into VR technology, new experiences and industries across the board will continue to grow.
More services will spin off to different start-ups, driving interest in developing better experiences and expanding applications.
It is through this cycle that VR can truly become a "kingmaker" for businesses, giving them the power and ability to take centre stage, while leveraging the evolving ecosystem of VR tools and applications.
The writer is president of APAC at Unity Technologies.