The coronavirus has hit the world unexpectedly and many countries are currently on lockdown — you can hardly find a government that hasn’t been affected by the COVID-19 and coronavirus cases can be found in as many as 187 countries.
For now, it’s not possible to predict with any certainty how severe the consequences of the lockdown will be for the global and home economies. But we can already observe what irreparable harm the virus has caused to various industries like logistics, tourism & travel, trade shows, retail (excl. FMCG, especially manufactures of toilet paper and sanitizers, and essential goods are in a good position), and many others.
Who Suffered the First from the COVID-19 Crisis?
The industries that heavily rely on human labor have suffered the most. Take the travel industry, for instance. Many domestic and international flights have been cut and many bookings and business trips have been canceled or postponed indefinitely. The trade show sector is keeping up with the lockdown. Many shows that used to gather thousands of people annually are canceled — E3, the biggest gaming event in the world, Google I/O, Mobile World Congress MWC Barcelona, and many others.
Is it So Bad for All Industries?
Despite the obvious negative toll, the coronavirus has a silver lining for a few industries. Companies that are online or had an opportunity to quickly go online and adapt to the new reality are the lucky ones. Online entertainment and shopping, web communication sectors are on the rise now. As many multiplexes and other entertainment venues shut down, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are surging.
Web conferencing companies are also experiencing a great boon. Zoom and others are reaping major benefits as many businesses around the globe have gone online and are using such tools to connect with employees and keep their businesses alive.
What is the State of Things in the Tech Industry?
The tech industry is also facing great challenges. For instance, companies that offer software or mobile apps for traveling are in grave peril, for obvious reasons. But what about the virtual reality and augmented reality sphere, which was so promising before the coronavirus pandemic?
The VR and AR technology was a really promising sector before the pandemic. You could immerse yourself in a fictional world in a local play space or office, but with those closed, it’s become impossible to enjoy any virtual experience. Does it mean that there’s no more use for augmented and virtual reality? It might be true for small businesses at the moment, but giant corporations use AR and VR to provide more real experience for employees during meetings while they’re working remotely. Virtual reality meetings will have a common space and everyone will be able to collaborate in an efficient way, thus, the technology will provide its users with a sense of real presence.
Sure, corporate behemoths can allocate budget to have the technology, while others are cutting costs substantially on such things.
Some small businesses are pivoting. For instance, a company that used to rent VR headsets for corporate events, parties, and team buildings, is now renting them to people who are locked at their homes as well as for those who have no opportunity to travel and are seeking entertainment at home. Having the necessary equipment for a really awesome VR and AR experience is costly, so renting such gear seems to be a win-win option for companies and clients in the age of crisis. Moreover, in case you are “lucky” to have a birthday while being locked at home, VR provides a nice chance of celebrating an event with your friends and family in the virtual environment. You can organize a party inviting your guests who we’ll be using headsets.
While companies providing headset rent services might see some gain in the current circumstances, for manufacturers of these very headsets or for brick-and-mortar retailers who sell them, the situation is not that rosy. A lot of people are not ready to spend a large sum of money on hardware before trying it first. Thus, offline retailers are at a high risk of closure as they still need to pay rent, salary, and other expenses.
Hardware manufacturers might have ramped up the production of headsets but because of the lockdown, the supply chain may be disrupted.
How Can You Use AR & VR in the Age of Coronavirus?
But augmented reality can become a safety belt for brick-and-mortar retailers. AR can help people to commit to a certain item of furniture or a piece of clothing without going out to a shop. They can try a new pair of jeans on or see how a yellow armchair will look in their living room. With the help of a smartphone, you can see how a certain item looks on you or in your home. For instance, GAP, a famous shop that sells women’s, men’s, and children’s apparel and accessories, has a nice VR app that will help you to pick up the right clothes.
Having been locked at home for some time, it’s really hard not to lose your mind. Virtual and augmented reality can alleviate the burden of boredom. Even when the borders are closed now, you can travel the world without leaving your home. Or you can study, work, and entertain yourself with the help of various VR and AR applications.
One of the most important virtues of virtual reality and augmented reality is its ability to bring people together wherever they are. In the age of coronavirus when the pandemic has distanced people from each other or even isolated them as never before, it is essential to have a kind of a virtual escape where you can meet and chat with your friends We might not know if the COVID-19 will be here for long (so far, there’s no vaccine) but it will definitely change a lot for businesses, people, and the world.
For now, there’s no certain answer to the question “How COVID-19 is transforming AR and VR markets?” as for various businesses, there are different consequences and some companies are even prospering at the moment. Brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to survive. But we can say for sure that when the virus is gone, augmented and virtual reality are not going away and their implementation into various businesses might become ubiquitous.
All in all, VR & AR is a future-proof investment into your business even if now a lot of companies are cutting down on various expenses including technologies. We can say for sure, that virtual and augmented reality will soar in the years to come. But you can already start bulletproofing your business with LITSLINK, a US-based augmented reality app development company and virtual reality software development agency, by creating products that will make a difference.