Systems previously available only to largest manufacturers or to the military can now be put together with consumer-grade technology at a fraction of the price, and companies are already taking advantage of the opportunities.
When it comes to virtual reality, one of the biggest bangs for the buck is in virtual prototypes. Virtual models of buildings, oil tankers, factory floors, store shelves or cars can now be uploaded into a virtual environment and examined by safety inspectors, designers, engineers, customers and other stakeholders.
The Ford Motor Company, for example, has long been using virtual reality when it comes to prototypes and simulations, but the new wave of virtual reality technology is dramatically expanding its reach.
Ford's Immersive Virtual Environment lab, one of several areas in which Ford uses virtual reality, for example, has recently added the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to its virtual reality platforms.
It's used in combination with a shell of a car where the seat, steering wheel, and other parts can be repositioned to match those of a prototype car.