The virtual reality (VR) market has grown significantly in the past few years. VR headsets, controllers and tracking systems are being developed for many use cases other than the initial use cases in gaming and entertainment areas.

Software development brings a fully immersive experience to users, providing realistic applications for enterprises. VR-based training applications have been developed to help organisations achieve faster growth.

Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research, said that virtual reality enterprise training programmes create a significant business opportunity, providing employees with an effective training experience.

She said that virtual reality systems are increasingly being tapped by enterprises due to their ability to provide immersive training environments, accurately simulate dangerous situations, and avoid costly travel and equipment-related expenses.

ABI Research forecasts that the enterprise VR training market will generate $216 million in 2018 and grow to $6.3 billion in 2022, at a compound annual growth rate of 140 per cent in the next five years.

“Industries with high-risk working environments such as energy, industrial and manufacturing or construction are the early adopters of enterprise VR training applications. Technician training in industries such as the energy sector can be perilous, mainly due to the nature of the job where technicians work on offshore rigs or in the utility sector where technicians work with power distribution systems,” she said.

In heavy industries, she said that VR training prevents risks associated with training hazards such as safety of trainees in the dangerous workplace or accidental damage to equipment. It can save time and money for the companies by providing realistic hands-on experience to trainees without any work downtime.

Aviation and Maritime are other, more well-known, areas that also use virtual reality training programmes for simulated training. Virtual reality can also provide immersive experiences which have an important role in keeping trainees, across all industries, engaged in their training.

She said that companies which deploy VR-based training programmes have experienced a time savings up to 80 per cent. The effectiveness of VR based training is recognised by retail and marketing businesses, too.

“In fact, one of the world’s largest retailers, Walmart, has deployed VR technology to train its staff. Walmart is planning to deploy the technology in its 200 training centres by the end of 2017,” Lynn said.

Although VR training applications are still at the early stage of deployments, however, they have strong potential in the entire enterprise training space; tourism, sales and marketing, and athlete training are just some of the segments where VR training applications will expand, she said.

In some cases, such as heavy machine operation, mining, and oil and gasfield operations, she said the training environment can be in dangerous conditions. There is risk involved when providing training in such environments.

“Virtual environments prevent professionals from training in hazardous locations. Virtual reality training creates safe training conditions by allowing companies to train in labs and allows trainees to do multiple repetitions before working in real-life conditions,” she said.