Share this article

VR is already changing the way we look at the world – and we have only just begun the journey, and it’s in the world of work where its biggest potential really lies….

Were you at last month’s AR/VR conference, held at the Creative Augmented Virtual Reality Hub at the Manchester Metropolitan University’s business school?

If not, you missed an inspiring series of discussions and demonstrations from leading thinkers in the zone. But fear not: read this blog and at least you’ll have a handle on the main number of the conference: $162 billion.

That was the figure from hub director Dr Timothy Jung when he said: “AR/VR… global revenues will reach $162 billion in 2020.”

That’s a tidy figure, one I’m confident can be achieved. And I would like to see the UK winning more than its fair share of that… but how?

Firstly, how is the global VR/AR sector going to ramp up to that sort of figure between here and then? Primarily – I believe – by extending its reach into more and more parts of the business world, and showing how we can transform the way we undertake a host of functions in the workplace.

I was privileged to be one of the speakers at Manchester – recounting our experience of developing seven interactive, immersive programmes on behalf of Airbus last year. Since then, headset leaders HTC Vive have started showing several of the programmes at events around the world to demonstrate the massive potential of the technology to market B2B products, big ticket or otherwise.

Other speakers at Manchester covered themes such as tourism, retail, health and leisure experiences.

All of us are looking to inspire the next generation of innovators and make the UK a global leader in the fast-emerging technology – by creating new ways to embed VR in every aspect of the way we run businesses: not just in marketing and sales, but in logistics, training and a host of other functions.

Where we showed how VR can help sell jets, helicopters and mission vehicles to Mars, I firmly expect leading players from the medicine and motor sectors, from food to fashion companies and from pharmaceuticals to property developers to follow suit very quickly.

Ubiquity will mean that the sophistication of the immersive VR experience will increase, the cost of producing programmes will fall, and having a headset to experience new products and services will become as commonplace as having a smartphone to connect to the outside world.

Our clients are already saying to us: “Brilliant, Mark. Now we need to take what you did last time a stage further. What else have you got for us?” One of the reasons I was keen to be involved in the Manchester conference was that I’m hoping that our Universities, collaborating with companies like mine, can pioneer new interactive apps and techniques to help the technology leap forward.

I also believe there is substantial scope for job generation amongst the brightest young graduates – it’s that level of talent we need to recruit – and if you’re a company in this field, I invite you to follow our example and become STEM ambassadors and get the word out there that this is the field to be working in. That doesn’t just mean offering careers guidance and advice to schools, colleges, and universities, but taking on keen young minds currently at college and giving them work experience. We have recruited several of our very best personnel in just that way!

VR/AR is a frontier technology where computer science, design and physics meet. By bringing together the best minds from these and other disciplines, and getting University departments to work alongside innovative businesses, the potential is endless. That way we can build on the shoulders of what has been achieved so far… and help the UK win more than its fair slice of that global pot of $162 billion!