Published on October 16, 2015

No longer solely reserved for gaming, virtual reality is moving into wider application and adoption in the business setting, to market everything from products to property.

In addition to the widely-recognised Oculus Rift, many more VR headsets are scheduled to shortly enter the marketplace.

Sony plans to release its unimaginatively named Playstation VR headset (previously known as ‘Morpheus’) in 2016.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has partnered with Oculus VR to incorporate the technology with Windows 10 and its Xbox gaming platform. This comes in addition to plans for widespread release of its own HoloLens augmented reality head-mounted display to developers and enterprise within the next year.

With its capacity for virtual walkthroughs, this technology is especially predicted to change the way real estate is marketed and sold. Virtual tours will allow new property developments to be explored before they even exist.

At least one Australian agency has started showing prospective buyers properties with a Samsung virtual reality headset. International investors can also view the properties via a headset in the agency’s China office.

The first 3D property tour was recently added to realestate.com, and the online property portal also plans to add the ability for properties to be viewed using the Oculus Rift headset.

Despite the convenience of a virtual, true-to-life property walkthrough, this technology is limited by buyers’ access to a headset.

Will there be a day when everyone has their own virtual reality headset? Facebook certainly hopes so, having purchased the Oculus Rift technology for $US2 billion in mid-2014.

Speaking about the headset, Mark Zuckerberg recently told Vanity Fair:

“Eventually I think we’re going to have technology where we can communicate our full sensory experience and emotions to someone through thought.”

While that vision may seem somewhat disconcerting today, Zuckerberg hopes to see the adoption of VR by billions of people, growing incrementally in the same way Facebook has in the last 10 years.

The Oculus Rift will ship to customers early next year, at around $1,500 for the device and computer needed to run it.

But there could be a virtual reality headset in every household sooner than you think, as even cheaper options such as Google Cardboard are widely adopted.

At around $5 a set, Cardboard could be the foot in the door for almost anyone to start exploring the full functionality of virtual reality for minimal expense.

YouTube now supports 360-degree VR videos, watchable as standard, or as an immersive experience with the Cardboard headset and a late model smartphone.

For marketers in any industry, 360-degree video offers a platform to create a unique user experience – even before virtual reality headsets are in the hands of consumers. The interaction of these videos will undoubtedly lead to higher view rates than standard digital videos.

This technology can give viewers a feel for something as immersive as a deep sea dive, while also allowing marketers to overlay their message. Watch the video below with your smartphone to see for yourself:

Anyone can start making their own 360-degree videos now by following YouTube’s specifications and using one of four spherical cameras compatible with the format.

The full potential of virtual reality is a long way from being known. But as consumer-level virtual reality devices become widely available over the next 12 months, they will undoubtedly bring as-yet unimagined creative applications of this technology.

This post first appeared on the Frankly by Frank Digital blog. Frank is an independent, award-winning digital agency based in Sydney that specialises in high-end, user centric websites and digital campaigns.

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