The top 10 industries that use VR (and how they use it)

Ten industries that use VR

Virtual Reality (VR) is not a thing of the future anymore, no, it has long arrived in the present. People tend to equate virtual reality with gaming and entertainment. However, that is far from the only possible scenario. VR can actually be used in almost any business and industry to make use of its ability to create an immersive environment and redefine the user experience. Listed here are ten industries in which virtual reality has been deployed over the past decade:


  1. Healthcare
  2. Education 
  3. Automotive
  4. Architecture
  5. Retail
  6. Marketing
  7. Law enforcement
  8. Travel & Tourism
  9. Art
  10. Entertainment


Of course, there are even more possibilities. VR can be employed in a way that can be helpful to any industry, really. These ten, however, should give you a solid overview over what VR can do and how it can be used for different businesses. Plus we get to share some of our own experiences with Smart VR Lab in some of these examples. So, let’s have a look together, shall we?


How can VR be used in healthcare?

The role of VR in healthcare gains increasingly more significance. From the training of professionals to the actual medical benefits of VR – healthcare really shows in how many areas VR can be used to shine.

VR training in healthcare: 

VR training is the classic use case: Professionals can use VR to better prepare themselves for use in the operating room, be it a resident explaining diagnosis and treatment plans or an orthopedic surgeon performing surgery. Thanks to companies like Osso VR, surgeons can interact with medical equipment in VR and practice surgical procedures on virtual bodies to learn about and perfect new equipment in a safe and risk-free environment.

VR as pain- and illness reliever: 

Another (pain)killer example is literally using VR to help with pain. In November 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved RelieVRx for prescription use to relieve pain in adults. This VR experience incorporates elements of cognitive behavioral therapy and other behaviors such as shifting attention, deep relaxation, interoceptive awareness amongst others to help reduce chronic pain. VR is even being used to relieve pain in burn injuries.

VR can also be used as a treatment method for mental health issues, as Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy is considered particularly effective in treating PTSD and anxiety.

Speaking from our experience at Smart VR Lab, VR in healthcare can be used in so many different ways. Next to creating VR procedures for training, we also developed an AR app that helps younger patients to feel at ease in the hospital settings. The app features a cute, little bird called ‘Buddy’. Patients can interact with Buddy. The bird can tell stories, play games and even do some tricks! Check out more info on the case study here.

How can VR be utilized for education?

Conventionally, we are given lessons in which we study from books and other sources. This, however, is not the right fit for everyone. Some people derive much better learning results from using visual or physical teaching methods. With a variety of different stimuli, the learning experience can become much more effective.
VR is the solution for creating such an experience!

VR for risk free & cost-conscious learning: 

Students can take virtual trips to places that would be too expensive and time-intensive to actually visit – and still experience them in a realistic manner. Same for scientific experiments that students can actually take part in risk free with VR, with the added benefit of being able to practice over and over. 

VR for immersive learning: 

With VR, it is possible to immerse ourselves in learning by interacting with it, which significantly improves our capacity of retaining knowledge. This is due largely to the fact that it requires us to use less of our cognitive faculties than when reading words from a book, for example. Language learning, for instance, can be exhilarated by using VR, with systems like MondlyVR from ATi Studios. On this platform, the user is guided through a variety of pronunciations in real-life scenarios by a teacher avatar. In the process, the user is engaged in conversations and receives constant feedback from the chatbot technology. 

On top of that, VR can be of immense benefit to children with learning difficulties or that are otherwise impaired. How? For instance, a study by Strickland et al. (2007) provided evidence that children with autism could apply skills practiced in a virtual environment to real life situations, ranging from communication, to fire or street safety.


How can VR be used in the automotive industry?

What is the (auto)motive of VR? Still thinking along the lines of education, VR can offer great benefits for young drivers. Toyota partnered with Oculus to develop a program called TeenDrive360 . Through this VR program, drivers in training can learn how to drive effectively before they hit the road.

Driving experiences with VR: 

So far, so good for driving students. Experience life-like driving, however, is also of great importance for customers before buying a car. Using VR, car manufacturers offer their customers the possibility to experience the distinctive driving style of their vehicles – without the vehicle itself. The likes of Mitsubishi, Ford and BMW all make use of this way to deliver a diving experience to their customers.

Does VR improve cars? 

Additionally, Ford leverages VR to enhance its assembling process. Providing a virtual experience aids in training employees in order to improve their performance.

As for the cars themselves, VR constantly helps to improve them. When it comes to analyzing road scenarios and the behavior of vehicles, VR is the way for automotive manufacturers to gain and make use of this data. Using the simulated situations, they can review prototypes and make changes before developing new models.

Intelligent cars are the future? With the help of artificial intelligence (AR) and virtual reality, cars are able to learn how to drive, turn and stop.


How can VR benefit architecture?

The importance of using advanced technologies, such as virtual reality in architecture, is increasing dramatically. Regardless of how accurate a well-rendered image may be, that image will invariably be insufficient to convey the scale and impact of a project as a whole. VR is the logical medium of choice.

Care for an example? New York-based architectural firm Ennead Architects is using VR to help clients visualize space and data in a three-dimensional world. That goes for new projects as well as for general changes to an already existing place. Any change can be visualized much better. Take the  Astronomy Museum in Shanghai (2021) that relied on VR during the design stage to show where the most light would fall on the building, based on blocks of different colors.

Architec-tour: Real-estate agents now have access to a myriad of new possibilities for their house tours. Clients can access realistic house models from anywhere and still get a feel of the actual building. 


What can VR be used for in retail?

Heads or tails? Retail! The retail sector is the foundation of the business world. VR is used to advance the process of planning, design, and research, and to create immense value for the end user – i.e., the consumer. So, how does that work?

Virtual trial with VR: 

An obvious use case for VR in retail is the ability to try on clothes (or browse products in general) without physical contact – a key application for VR in retail, as it tackles existing business challenges. For sanitary reasons, shoppers tend to be hesitant to try on previously worn clothing. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has become more urgent than ever.

The retailer’s logistic infrastructures might be strained with the higher volume of returns and refunds for previously not-fitted clothing. Within a VR setting, shoppers can choose clothes from a range of stores, brands, and price ranges, and try them on with no difficulty – and remotely. That goes for any product actually, like IKEA’s virtual reality kitchen, where customers can try out various virtual kitchens to determine what they want.

How VR takes customization to another level: 

In retail, customization is an essential factor in consumer satisfaction, and in sectors such as the automotive retail industry, individual product customization can be crucial to the purchasing decision. 

Customizing a product and matching it to a customer’s precise specifications may be a complicated task that entails extensive communication back and forth with the client, resulting in a protracted conversion process – VR can streamline that whole process.  

It enables customers to access straightforward tools for tweaking the final product design. By simply projecting the 3D image of the product in VR, they can add decorations, change colors, and add other elements as needed

Even if you only look at the short-term possibilities, it is clear that VR is opening up huge opportunities for retailers. As Accenture’s Business Futures 2021 report reveals, a mere 1 percent jump in the use of AR/VR in retail would translate into $66 billion worth of additional revenue potential – not to speak of what opportunities would arise in the long term.


What is VR Marketing?

In a nutshell, virtual reality marketing is a marketing strategy that uses virtual reality technology for marketing campaigns. This results in a stronger relationship with the target group and in a more profound brand loyalty. What creates a deeper connection, reading content on a screen or directly interacting with a virtual persona? And that is only one example. Immersive media (including both augmented and virtual reality marketing) provides companies with considerable opportunities to promote their brands, increase sales, and improve customer commitment and engagement.

Examples for VR marketing campaigns: 

Many brands and marketing agencies already incorporate VR in their campaigns – like topshop giving fashion enthusiasts the opportunity to sit front row at London Fashion Week by wearing a VR headset or Tom’s Shoes asking their customers to take a trip through Peru to illustrate where each pair of shoes they donate ends up. The end-all be-all goal for any marketing campaign is to make people remember and bond with brands in the long run – VR offers new and unique possibilities that help to create that special sense of connection. 


How can VR work for law enforcement?

You have the right to remain with old training methods. However, VR has been coming in hot as the next step to police training. 

With fully immersive VR training simulators and other training solutions using VR technology, companies like SurviVR, Apex Officer, Street Smarts VR and many others are enabling a whole new way to train first responders. This allows police officers and other public safety personnel to practice real-life operational situations in a virtual environment in a risk free manner. That allows them to concentrate on de-escalation and conflict management techniques. A good example: In 2019, the NYPD began using VR to train for active shooter and real-world scenarios.

We at Smart VR lab have been working on a special VR training for the Dutch national police. However, at this point we cannot say too much about it, so you are gonna have to wait and see until we can release more!


VR in Travel & Tourism – what can it do?

The tourism industry was probably one of the industries hardest hit by the effects of Corona. As people were forced to stay at home, isolated and socially distant, tourism ground to a halt. The lockdowns made people want to travel and explore new places even more – while they were stuck at home. Thanks to virtual reality, sightseeing and experiences can be realized, allowing people to stay put but move virtually to any place on Earth or even further. So, with the special VR experience developed by Samsung in collaboration with NASA, anyone can explore the lunar surface for instance. 

Future of VR in Tourism:

Even as the pandemic slowly returns to normal and travel is possible, VR is still viewed as the future of the tourism industry. In what way, you may ask? Developments in VR allow people to test a vacation before booking it. As far back as 2015, Thomas Cook launched its “Try Before You Fly” VR experience, which allowed potential vacationers to visit stores in various countries to experience their trip (or parts of it) in VR before booking. The result? A 190% jump in bookings for trips to New York after visitors were able to test out the 5-minute version of the vacation in VR.


How can VR be used in Art & Design?

An artist that takes part in VR? Nothing new here. In VR, not only can you make a life-size piece of art, no, you can actually be and move inside it. In fact, you can walk into your painting and emerge at the other end. Talk about experiencing art a different way, eh?

With the well-known application Tiltbrush many people have already managed to create stunning artworks (like this one by Bird Gamayun) and with Masterpiece studio the possibilities to do art are endless, as you can draw, sculpt, create 3D models or animate. 

Smart VR Lab collaborated in a big art project in the Netherlands with a virtual reality experience. The project, called ‘Are You There?’, had artists collaborate with young patients with Absence (a mild form of epilepsy) to recreate their experience during the attacks they experienced. The result? 10 different artworks in 360 video and photo which you can view in an interactive online portal here:


VR in entertainment

Let’s end this list with the industry that VR is most usually associated with: The entertainment industry. So, it should shock nobody that VR is still being used extensively within the gaming segment. In fact, the latest VR headsets have made tremendous advances when it comes to managing the lag and queasiness associated with VR gaming. Among the most popular games that have gained traction in the VR segment are Half-Life and No Man’s Sky.

In the entertainment industry, VR is used to intensify the experience with 360 movies and establish a more powerful emotional connection to the characters or the actual movie. For example, Disney Movies VR makes it possible for users to join red carpet events or to an interview with the cast.

That is not enough, however, as VR could actually fundamentally shift media content production in general. How so? What is the flipside of it? Well, literally Flipside. Companies like Flipside XD have already demonstrated the possibility of real time motion capture and animation. This allows filmmakers to create interactive animated shows that transcend the classical distribution channels by livestreaming them on platforms such as YouTube or Twitch. 


What industry does VR not make sense for?

Well, we don’t really know of any. No matter what you work in, there is always a way to incorporate VR so that your business can profit and make use of it in one way or another, like we demonstrated in this article. Just take VR training alone for instance – it can be used for any business and industry. Don’t believe us? Then check out the 7 use cases we assembled for you here

We said in the beginning that VR is not a thing of the future, but a thing of now. However, with how quickly development is going, the options and possibilities that VR can bring to your business and industry will only continue to rise. So no matter if present or future, VR will be an inescapable part of your industry for quite some time. 

Smart VR Lab develops and produces training content for businesses across multiple industries. To transform your business, simply contact Smart VR Lab for a demo and set up a meeting with our team. If you have questions on anything related to VR, you can always send us a mail to


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