New Delhi: A month back, Emirates Airlines began allowing people to saunter in their luxurious A380 airbus and book seats of their choice. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines, thus, became one of the many companies that have begun using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to provide a first-hand experience of their products to customers.
VR works by immersing users in a virtual world while AR adds virtual objects in the real world to augment that experience. Earlier restricted to building games and multimedia experiences by putting users into them, VR is now increasingly being used in retail, hospitals, educational institutions and design and manufacturing. For instance, Bengaluru-based firm Livspace is using VR to let interior designers create a design blueprint according to a customer’s requirement in 3D or VR. Once the design is shared with customers, they can provide their feedback and suggest further changes. Livspace then creates a shopping cart and provides an estimate of the total cost of redesigning. “Getting a home designed has been a major challenge for customers. With VR, Livspace has managed to address those concerns. This has helped us grow 5x on the consumer side in the last one year. We receive 90 to 100 registrations every day. We have become major destination for customers who want their home redesigned, says Ramakant Sharma, co-founder and chief technology officer, Livspace.
Noida-based SmartVizx’s Trezi is another platform that uses VR to help designers visualise how a room would like for their customers in advance. “Physical catalogues and mock-ups, multiple customer iterations, last minute changes—we have long endured these pain points and still do. Trezi has helped us move towards being sustainable and help and in controlling costs which arise due to multiple and distributed stakeholder. We can now virtually decide what works and prevent real, cost-inducing errors," says Praveen Rawal, managing director, India Steelcase.
Hospitals are using VR for complicated procedures which require detailed planning before the actual operation is carried out. In 2017, Hyderabad-based Global Hospitals organised a VR-based surgical training sessions for 700 doctors, allowing them to witness a laparoscopy surgery live form the operation theatre through a VR headset.
In the automotive sector, VR is being used to provide consumers virtual test drives and a first-hand experience of the interiors of new and upcoming models. Lexus uses Facebook’s Oculus Rift while Volvo uses Google’s Cardboard to offer these experiences to customers through their respective website and app.
Meanwhile, proliferation of AR platforms such as Apple’s ARKit and Google ARCore and availability of smartphones with built in AR sensors has made accessing AR content a lot easier. UK-based AR start-up, Blippar, has built an indoor visual positioning system which can be leveraged by retailers at airports, malls and stadiums to help customers find their way to their stores. Travel-booking platform Ixigo recently added a feature called AR Coach Position in its iOS app.