Wal-Mart Bets Big on Virtual Reality – and So Should You

Immersive technology is having its moment. After decades of development, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) are finally catching on – with businesses. Wal-Mart’s announcement last week that it plans to make VR an integral part of employee training is just the latest validation of what Jeremy Bailenson has predicted for years: immersive technology will forever change how we work and communicate.

Renowned VR guru and founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL), Bailenson is also co-founder of STRIVR – the human performance company using immersive technology to help companies and sports teams (Wal-Mart and the NFL, among them) improve training programs, enhance decision making, and develop teaching and learning tools.

VR establishes more intense, personal and cognitively engaging experiences than any other learning mechanism, explains Bailenson, an evangelist for the next wave of VR development, or what he calls “Experience on Demand.”

It’s still early days for VR in business applications, but its use cases are as strong as they are wide-reaching – and they’re emerging at a furious pace. Surgeons can preview and practice complex operations; retail workers can prepare for peak periods like Black Friday; heavy equipment operators can safely simulate risky scenarios without leaving the ground; car companies can take virtual test drives.

The time for companies to get in the VR game is now.

Danny Stern: