Management 4900 Explores the Future of Virtual Reality

It is no understatement to say that the invention of the smartphone has completely altered the way that we look at business and communication. After 10 years with this device, it is hard to imagine a world without it. However, this is not the first major technology that has changed our world forever. In the last 100 years we saw the invention of the radio, the television, the personal computer, and the internet. With the rate of adoption of new technology continuously increasing, it is safe to say that the next disruption may be right around the corner. That is why in Professor David Noble’s MGMT 4900 class he emphasized the importance of emerging technology in business strategy.

The focus of MGMT 4900: Strategy, Policy and Planning is around exploring the various functional areas of an enterprise to understand how to develop business strategy for future growth. In the Information Age, one of the most important components of an effective business strategy is technology. Professor Noble encouraged us to think about this when analyzing existing companies. He wanted us to think about what technology is in use today and what technology needs to be used in order to stay competitive in the future. Professor Noble believes that one of the most important disruptive technologies will be Virtual Reality. Having worked in the OPIM Innovate lab with various virtual reality devices I offered to give a demonstration for the class

Virtual Reality or VR is the simulation of a digital environment that the user is able to interact with through sight, sound, and motion. The concept of VR can be traced back all the way to 1939 with the release of the View Master. In the 1980s new consumer and industrial technologies began to develop that looked similar to modern VR headsets, but they were either far too expensive or poorly designed. Thanks to advances in computing technology, VR saw a resurgence in the last decade that made it more worthwhile for businesses to invest in.

It is one thing to just talk about this technology in a business context, but it is another thing to get hands on experience. Emerging technology like virtual reality can often be financially unobtainable for the average college student. Having a lab right in the business school dedicated to hands on exposure to emerging tech is something special that not many schools have. For our class we decided to focus on two types of virtual reality technology; Google Cardboard and HTC Vive. The Google Cardboard is an entry level VR headset that is powered by smart phone. The headset itself can be purchased from various retailers or self-built. We focused our discussion around how the New York Times is reinventing how it tells stories through the use of VR. We also explored applications like Google Cardboard Camera that lets the user create their own VR experiences. This is the style of VR that most people will be able to have access to. We then explored the HTC Vive which is a more immersive VR experience that includes motion controls. This headset is significantly more expensive and needs a powerful computer to run most applications. However, the quality of VR experience is much better than the basic Google Cardboard. We focused our discussion around education tools like BodyVR  that takes you on a journey through the human body, and Everest that lets you experience an expedition from the base camp to the summit. The HTC Vive allows for a more interactive and detailed experience and is what we imagine the future state of VR will look like. Both the HTC Vive and Google Cardboard are changing the way we imagine digital content and experiences.

Although many see VR as just a toy for gaming it is so much more than that. Every year the price of headsets decreases allowing more developers to create new experiences. Companies from every sector are looking at how virtual reality can be used to improve employee training, operational efficiency, and the customer experience. As more content is created, more users will adopt this technology, and ultimately change the way we consume digital content going forward.

By: Tyler Lauretti