Handheld Technology

Beyond marketing & gaming: 6 professional uses for Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is growing exponentially. The consumer uses are becoming increasingly apparent. But what about businesses? We consult Henry Stuart, co-founder of Visualise and Collette Johnson who covers medical business development at Plextek Consulting to find out what they think.


Henry Stuart of Visualise provides four top-line use cases:

  1. Virtual conferencing is going to be big - it’s a natural extension of the conference call when you can see your colleagues or clients represented in a virtual location and able to talk and interact like you were in the same room.
  2. Architecture VR is going to be big B2B - for planning approval, design sign off and sales, being able to explore a building ‘off plan’ with a real sense of scale and it being embedded in a perfect capture of the real world is going to be a vital tool.
  3. In tourism, many of the top destinations and travel companies are using VR at trade fairs to sell locations to retailers - South Africa tourism was one of the first to do this, with a VR experience that combined both VR video and binaural sound.
  4. For educational purposes like training staff, VR is a very powerful tool - imagine you could teach surgeons complex operations from the point off view of a world famous surgeon, with them narrating the piece and with graphical overlays that augment your vision.


Collette Johnson of Plextek Consulting presents two surprising medical uses:

Pain relief

By 2020, patients will also be utilising VR as an effective distraction technique. Excessive pain can be subdued by creating an immersive environment that ‘distracts’ the patient, taking them away to a nice calming environment that enables ‘normality’ to resume and associated anxiety to be reduced. 

Escapism is a great part of virtual reality and changes the way patients psychologically view the world and their health issues. It offers a much more personalised rehabilitation approach that can be tailored to the specific needs, wants and levels of degree required by each patient. 

However for this type of VR therapy to really take off for the patient of the future it must be managed in a very precise manner. Virtual reality systems come with potential safety warnings, as do many technology products, and there must be appropriate systems in place in order to take people in and out of the immersive world gradually. The user must be psychologically prepared for what is about to happen and not spend too long in the system to avoid losing the concept of reality and perception. 

Mental health

Parents of children that have schizophrenia or mental health problems, such as paranoia or disturbing images, can be put in the mind frame of their child and realistically understand the trauma and perception they are experiencing with Virtual Reality. It has previously been said that parents feel as though they have ‘lost’ their child to schizophrenia with one woman reporting in a medical study that she had “lost her son through his illness”, explaining that “it is like something in another world” and that she couldn’t understand what it was. VR solutions will have the potential to turn this perception on its head and help both the family and patient understand and cope with mental and physical conditions. 


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