Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dominated the news over the last several weeks, as the once isolated outbreak in China has spread to become a global phenomenon. Primary concern is obviously personal and family health during this time. But business impact has been substantial too — from Microsoft and Apple lowering financial projections to major conferences like Mobile World Congress and Facebook’s F8 being cancelled.
We’ve discussed at InstaVR the major changes at businesses driven by virtual reality’s widespread adoption. So it’s no surprise companies and governments can and are leveraging VR during the Coronavirus outbreak to better function. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most impactful use cases of VR during a health event like this one.
First though, we wanted to remind you of the main benefits of VR overall: specifically that it’s immersive, memorable, and the closest thing you can get to “being there.” As Coronavirus has necessarily caused isolation and grounded travel plans for many, VR picks up the slack. Activities that once required an “in-person” presence can now be done virtually.
There are many use cases for VR during the global Coronavirus response, but here are the ones we believe companies and governments benefit the most from:
Remote Employee Training with Virtual Reality
Companies over the last several years were already accelerating their adoption of VR for employee training. It just makes sense: it saves money while easily scaling to deploy to 100s or 1000s of workers.
The Coronavirus though has prevented some workers from traveling, such as corporate trainers and managers. Recording and deploying 360-degree VR trainings — be it for VR headset, mobile, or WebVR — allows employees to get vital training without having to leave their geographic location, and without others having to come to them.
VR Training can help alleviate the burden of onboarding new employees, who may have to take over temporarily for workers impacted by government actions related to the virus. For instance, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked Japanese schools to close for the month of March. For parents unable to go to their work because of this, temporary employees can quickly and easily use VR applications to learn all facets of a job.
Companies like Apple and Microsoft are also having to look outside China for supply chain options now. Many of the warehouses in other countries they could use would need to mobilize quickly. There’s no better way to do so than using 360-degree VR experiences showing how the existing supply chain works. Every company as a matter of preparedness should be capturing their key process in 360/VR, in case of needing to replicate.
With InstaVR, you can also leverage our Co-Experience feature to train multiple employees at the same time, regardless of location. The Corporate Trainer or Manager wouldn’t have to travel to an impacted regions and can still lead trainings. VR training makes so much sense in a travel-constrained world.
Virtual Customer Engagement
As mentioned, Mobile World Congress and Facebook’s F8 Conference are already cancelled, and the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco in March has scaled back. Many people that might go to a mall or stores are also not travelling due to Coronavirus fears.
Does this mean businesses should simply stop interacting with potential clients and customers? Of course not.
With Virtual Reality applications offering interactive and educational experiences for potential clients, there’s no reason to stop outreach. Some have even suggested Facebook should run their Developer Conference remotely via VR, an idea we love.
But even companies with no VR experience can use InstaVR to create engaging, memorable experiences that potential customers can enjoy at home via VR headset, mobile phone, web, etc.
Take Zuo Modern, an InstaVR client based in Oakland, CA that creates custom furniture. While clients might not be able to visit the showroom in person due to travel concerns, they can still visit the Virtual Showroom Zuo has built using InstaVR.
Coronavirus is obviously having a substantial short-term impact on revenues for many companies. You need to maintain innovative customer engagement during this time, so that when fears of the outbreak subside you can return to your normal selling activities. Don’t underestimate the ability of VR to connect with your most important clients, regardless of their location.
Medical Training and Disaster Preparedness Using VR
As Coronavirus has spread from Wuhan to the rest of the globe, the ability to spot and treat symptoms *quickly* has become incredibly important. We’ve discussed the benefits of VR for medical training before, such as how Stanford University School of Medicine trains new Residents on avoiding distractions using InstaVR applications. So it’s safe to say that VR is the best way to make doctors more comfortable with diagnosing/treating a disease they’ve never seen before.
Disaster Preparedness through Virtual Reality is also important. We’ve done a case study with the State of Texas on how they’ve used InstaVR to keep their Ambulance Bus drivers prepared despite having little normal access to the buses. If mobile health clinics need to be built quickly, best to show how to do so using VR.
Coronavirus is not fast moving, per se, but the fear of it can cause people to act in unusual ways. That’s why we anticipate agencies like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will use virtual reality applications to train workers on how to interact with travelers and visitors worried about the disease. You can use VR to spot symptoms of Coronavirus, but can also prepare workers for how to answer questions about Coronavirus as well.
The impact of Coronavirus has hurt many people and businesses. As fear of the disease turning into a pandemic widens, VR has the ability to address some of the issues that arise. From small changes, like being able to train workers without having to travel. To big impacts, like preparing doctors for addressing a disease they’ve never had 1st hand experience with before.
Great strides in virtual reality hardware, from powerful cameras like the Insta360 Pro to high-resolution standalone headsets like the Oculus Quest, have upped the quality of VR experiences. And InstaVR’s simple but robust platform has made any company capable of creating and distributing VR apps in minutes, with no coding necessary.
You and your company are capable today of using VR in positive ways during this devastating outbreak.