We’ve officially reached “the future” people have been talking about for decades – an age where virtual reality (VR) can impact actual reality. Contrary to popular belief, VR isn’t just for avid gamers or scientists who love to marvel at new technology. In fact, it’s already on its way to radically transforming various industries. One study estimates that the global virtual reality industry will generate $21.5 billion – a 4x revenue increase in just four years. In 2019, we’ll see even greater efforts to weave VR through day-to-day life.

Retail

With the continuous growth of e-commerce businesses, many brick and mortar retailers are in crisis. These stores are now faced with unique challenges from suddenly having to compete with online giants like Amazon at every turn. But all is not lost – There are plenty of ways both brick and mortar and online retailers can benefit from VR. Clothing stores are considering how shoppers can virtually experience outfits without even having to try them on. Soon, shoppers may not even have to leave their bedroom to access a virtual mall of products with which they can interact. And while many experts are skeptical of just how readily consumers will latch onto retail-related VR experiences, a survey by J. Walter Thompson Intelligence revealed that 80% of Generation Z respondents were more likely to visit a store that offered VR. Brands like Topshop and North Face have already implemented VR into the buying experience with stunning results.

Training

Several industries will incorporate VR for training purposes, saving on resources and providing a more thorough learning experience for new employees. Law enforcement, healthcare workers, firefighters, military personnel, and even astronauts can be prepped for dangerous scenarios they would otherwise have no way to prepare for. Rather than reading from a textbook, people in these precarious careers can gain real practice engaging with difficult stimuli right away. While still in the early phases of implementation, VR training has the potential to save lives and help professionals avert disasters in real life. Even in lower risk careers, VR can assist employees in learning necessary skills like customer service and hospitality management.

Marketing

It’s no surprise VR has the potential to revolutionize how marketers promote and sell products. What better way to convince than to give consumers a positive and memorable experience with a product? This may be marketers’ response to millennials’ denouncement of “stuff,” as research repeatedly shows they value novel experiences over things. This style of marketing goes above and beyond to generate hype, offering a taste of a satisfying product or service. Omnivert is a platform that offers brand VR advertising experiences that consumers can explore from their iPhones and computers.

Manufacturing

Imagine a world where products can be made without risk. VR is giving new hope to manufacturers that need safe, efficient, and affordable ways to create prototypes. For these businesses, “VR as a service” is becoming a hot topic as well. Over the next several years, manufacturers may find that investing in this type of service is a small price to pay for a super-reliable design and prototype tool.

In the past, virtual reality was an out-of-reach luxury for most businesses. But Forbes indicates that nearly “7.5% of the world’s valuable brands” are already employing industry-specific VR. Furthermore, accessibility has increased with more than 250 unique VR headset options now available on Amazon.com. While we won’t know the full impact of VR in business for years to come, it’s clear that it has already made an indelible mark on the world as we know it.