Karl Schmidt-Rhaesa

Virtual Reality - gimmick or revolutionary technology?

Virtual reality is not a new technology, but has been used by many for years. Nevertheless, VR applications are considered a gimmick by many, and only gradually is the full potential of the innovative technology becoming clear. Karl Schmidt-Rhaesa presents four cases to show which opportunities virtual reality can offer to companies.


1) VIP airplane cabins - soaring high with VR

Anyone who has ever flown thinks of airplane cabins as cramped rows of seats and optimistically estimated legroom. In contrast, owners of private jets or politicians in government aircraft enjoy a much higher level of travel comfort. 

They also benefit from the service of Lufthansa Technik AG, which furnishes the interiors of such aircraft individually according to the customer's wishes. This is work that requires the highest precision and quality in order to meet the customers' demands. In collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology, Lufthansa Technik AG is therefore developing a VR process for collaborative cabin design. Since VIP aircraft cabins are always prototypes, the installation of the various elements is time-consuming and error-prone. Virtual technology therefore allows those involved to work together to fit out the aircraft with cables, pipes and furniture - purely digitally, of course. In this way, potential errors and problem areas are identified in good time and by all employees and can be adjusted in the further process.


2) Sales through VR - virtual technology helps with sales

Germany's small and medium-sized enterprises are known for their hidden champions - companies that are little known but are world market leaders in their sectors. This requires not only high-quality products, but also innovative sales. The complex products have to be explained clearly and understandably before the customer buys them.

The family-owned company Siempelkamp, technology supplier in the machinery and plant engineering sector as well as in the casting and nuclear technology sector, therefore takes a new approach and relies on VR systems in sales. In addition to smaller machines, the company also offers hall-filling factory plants, which are difficult to capture as an image in a catalog. With VR technology, potential customers can now view the products either as 3D visualizations or completely virtually via VR headset. The design of the virtual visual objects is simpler than one might think: The company uses the CAD data from production that is available anyway. These are processed in such a way that all important details remain recognizable without loss of quality, but the file size is significantly reduced. The VR version also does not contain any confidential production details. In this way, an innovative sales tool can be created with little effort.


3) So far and yet so near - virtual collaboration in the digital office

More and more companies and employees are recognizing the benefits of mobile working: At the latest since the Corona pandemic, it has become clear that a nine-to-five job in an open-plan office is not a necessity, but a habit. The dream of many employees - working from the sofa or from vacation - has become reality.   

A trend with downsides: Collaboration with colleagues is less intensive and with greater physical distances, private exchanges are also difficult. In addition, the available tools are not developed for complete remote work. Video conferencing systems in particular, with tiny video tiles and cameras that are often switched off, are not very attractive for larger events and intensive discussions. One solution is so-called "immersive collaboration", where participants gather in a virtual room and act through personalized avatars. The collaboration is almost indistinguishable from a real meeting. No breakout room needs to be unlocked for a private conversation; instead, people can simply find a quiet corner in the virtual space.


4) Breakout - VR for mental health

At 17.1 percent of days lost to work, mental illnesses are the second most common cause of incapacity to work in Germany. Reason enough for mental health to become an increasing priority in society. Many companies now offer training in stress reduction and mindfulness in the workplace. 

Recently, VR systems have also been providing support in this area: Thanks to the technology of the company magic horizons, stressed employees can not only take a short walk around the block during their lunch break, but also immerse themselves in completely new worlds. Whether swimming with dolphins or hiking through the rainforest: Through the 360-degree optics, the user is immediately in an individually selected environment in which they can relax. 

In addition to realistic worlds, Magic Horizons also offers the complete opposite: In so-called color spaces, a combination of alternating patterns and colors together with binaural beats ensures a noticeable reduction in stress levels. The scientifically based method is also suitable for reinforcing meditation exercises.


Conclusion: VR as a cross-sector instrument

The examples show that the potential of virtual reality is enormous. It is precisely the versatility of VR that makes it a true miracle tool for companies and the economy. Networks such as the VR Business Club, with which PIABO started a partnership last year, connect companies across industries that see VR as an innovative technology. The VR business club is Germany's largest dialogue and matchmaking platform on virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. 


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