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Is virtual reality finally ready for business use?

John Brandon | Sept. 17, 2015
Virtual reality is about to make a big impact in the enterprise. Here are four companies making business-ready VR products and four industries embracing the technology.

mccarthy virtual design construction
McCarthy Building Companies uses the Oculus development kit and Samsung Gear VR to build and show clients VR replicas of construction projects.

2. Construction project virtual visit 

Another business use for VR has to do with showing a client how a building will look once it is completed. The traditional approach is to build a mock-up, which can be time-consuming and expensive but also doesn’t show the interior or what it feels like to walk down a hallway. 

Mike Oster, the vice president and CIO at McCarthy Building Companies, says they build VR replicas of construction projects to show clients. Some are hesitant at first and prefer a physical medium, but quickly see the value. They currently use the Oculus Rift development kit and Samsung Gear VR. They use VIMTrek to convert Revit architectural designs to 3D renders for use in the headsets. 

“In this regard, we always bring a fully rendered model with texture, proper lighting that is adjustable, and detailed equipment into the head-mounted device so the client is able to tour the most realistic space,” says Oster, adding that – as with any emerging tech – they always have to clearly define the goals and process for clients to set expectations on the final VR demo.

lockheed martin chil
Lockheed Martin Lockheed Martin creates virtual representations of space vehicles, satellites, tools and other instruments at its Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL) facility.

3. Space vehicle creation 

VR is a perfect match for space – in a VR world, you can simulate the freedom to explore in any direction. At the Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL) facility, Lockheed Martin uses two VR platforms – one is an enclosed room that projects holographic displays; one is a motion-capture studio with engineers and technician decked out in Oculus Rift gear – to create virtual representations of space vehicles, satellites, tools and other instruments. 

“When they see virtual prototypes in a 1-to-1 scale, the engineers or technicians get a much better perspective and are more readily identify any problems or area of improvement,” says Darin Bolthouse, the manager of CHIL at Lockheed Martin. He explained that the lab is a step up from desktop prototype because multiple people can all experience what it is like to be inside the Orion vehicle or interact with a satellite long before the actual prototyping stage.

volvo xc90 vr tour
Volvo offers full virtual reality tours of its new XC90 using your smartphone and Google Cardboard.


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