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The integral role of VR and AR in a coronavirus world

Posted by Fiona Todd on 8th June 2020

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) certainly aren’t anything new. Both consumers and businesses have been reaping the experiential benefits from VR and AR for several years.

But AR and VR have recently made it back into the spotlight since the pandemic started causing a detrimental effect on businesses all over the globe.

An article in the Financial Times recently highlighted that than 21,000 more UK businesses collapsed in March than the same month a year ago, proving the devastating toll coronavirus is taking.

To pull through, businesses are embracing digital technologies more than ever before. In fact, VR and AR is now increasingly in demand as business continuity takes priority.

So how exactly are these technologies having a positive impact on businesses, and where are we seeing the highest adoption?

Retail

With strict social distancing measures in place, the way we view new potential homes has changed. Despite the easing in lockdown meaning we can now move house and view properties, virtual reality tours have now become a resourceful way for homebuyers to view properties without leaving the safety of their own home.

When it comes to health and safety, the traditional open home will not be an attractive option for many people even after the pandemic has died down for quite some time.

But being able to look around a new property is still a crucial part of the home-buying process, and technology like VR means estate agents can continue business as normal.

Retail

Retail has been one of the industries hit hardest during this crisis. According to Drapers, in-store sales have dropped 84% compared to 2019.

But in a bid to boost the economy and help save the high street, Boris Johnson recently announced that all non-essential retailers will be able to reopen in England from 15th June, a move which will include clothes shops.

Despite this positive step forward, the traditional shopping experience will not go back to normal just yet.

Shops will have to adhere to strict guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus, and this means closing or reducing access to fitting rooms.

But consumers are reluctant to buy clothes without the ability to try them on first to save the hassle of returning goods. Thanks to AR, it’s now possible for consumers to see how any item of clothing will look like on them — just by simply holding up the piece of clothing in front of an AR mirror.

And this isn’t just available to shoppers visiting in-store retailers. Online shops are now using AR-powered smartphone cameras to show you what you would look like in the clothes you’re keen on buying, and you can even use certain AR makeup apps, which offer shoppers the same ability to try on makeup as if they were in a physical store.

Travel

With the coronavirus leading to closed borders and reduced airline operations, travel lovers have been forced to stay put.

However, through virtual reality, some of the world’s leading galleries, museums and landscapes have become available to us through just a few clicks away.

Those desperate to escape can take virtual reality tours to take them to the cities and places they’ve always wanted to see.

Of course this isn’t as good as actually being there in person, but the immersive experience will allow you to see what a certain place looks like in real life to help you decide on your next dream holiday location when this is all over.

Fiona Todd

Fiona’s early PR career began in a Hollywood film studio, but she left the glamour of entertainment in favour of the variety and greater opportunity offered by tech PR. Fi’s calm demeanour and pragmatic approach has helped her win the hearts and minds of her clients ever since. The secret to Fiona’s zen-like approach to account management is her love of yoga, helping her maintain mental and physical wellbeing after dealing with the daily demands of busy agency life.

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