How Companies Like Walmart Are Changing The Game With Virtual Reality
Who says virtual reality is just for games and sci-fi nerds? It may have started out as a platform for escapism and 360° entertainment, but the technology has since been applied to various fields and industries to solve more real-world problems and modernise outdated procedures. Limbix, for instance, is using it to treat mental health disorders, while Walmart has made it a part of job assessments. The possibilities, as it seems, are endless. Here’s how five companies are stretching their creativity and changing the game with VR.
This American supermarket chain has incorporated an Oculus Go VR headset into its hiring process, using the immersive gaming gadget to assess potential employees. Novelty aside, there is real value in creating a simulated environment to test a candidate’s practical skills such as their ability to tackle difficult customers, resolve issues, deal with underperforming staff, and navigate the different departments of Walmart.
The timed VR assessment will also evaluate the candidate’s multi-tasking skills by putting them in a virtual aisle where there are misplaced products, spills and trash. The candidate must then decide which issue to solve first within 30 seconds. When it comes to internal promotions, the VR assessment tool (combined with the usual, in-person interviews) has helped to remove bias and ensure the best candidates are selected.
Claiming to be the “world’s first virtual reality social enterprise” is Scotland-based start-up, Viarama, which uses VR in industries such as healthcare and education to benefit children, young adults, and senior citizens. One of its most notable works involves the elderly who have been placed in end-of-life programmes at various hospices. Due to their conditions, most of the patients aren’t able to travel beyond the boundaries of the nursing home. With the use of HTC Vive headsets and Google Earth VR, patients can be transported to wherever they wish to be. They can walk down memory lane and revisit the place they first got married, or engage in virtual experiences such as mountain climbing and painting, giving them the chance to fulfil their bucket list and do the things they’re no longer able to do in real life.
Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Limbix provides clinics and hospitals VR kits that serve as interactive therapy tools to treat mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, PTSD and chronic pain. By putting patients in immersive scenarios, it hopes to trigger the user’s internal pain relief mechanisms. Limbix’s treatments mirror exposure therapy without the real-life implications, recreating experiences and exposing patients to the source of their anxiety in a safe, virtual environment. Through VR, patients can also take part in exercises such as single-object-focus meditation.
The New York Times
Taking journalism to the next level, the team at The New York Times has cooked up a new way for readers to experience a story or a news report. All you need is to download the New York Times VR app and pair it to your Samsung Gear VR headset, if you happen to own one. If not, you can use a Google Cardboard headset or just your smartphone—though, it’ll be less immersive. Go beyond reading static paragraphs, written by award-winning journalists, about fighting ISIS troops, as The New York Times VR experience will bring you to the battlefield and place you among Iraqi soldiers, which adds another layer to the way we consume stories. Furthermore, it aids in the development of empathy for the goings-on in other parts of the world.
Black Box VR
For those who hate to work out, Black Box VR—an Idaho-based start-up co-founded by Preston Lewis—offers a thrillingly immersive alternative that will turn you into a gymming junkie. It gamifies workouts, leveraging on the addictive quality of video games to create 30-minute programmes that feel nothing like a gruelling exercise. Users have to put on an HTC Vive headset, which is connected to a special resistance machine created by the start-up. This ensures you’re getting a full-body workout that’s tailored to your fitness goals and level of strength. From the outside, it looks like you’re undergoing a routine workout. But from the VR perspective, battle aliens and launch fireballs with each rep, as you level up both in the game and in reality.