Up-and-coming Enterprise XR Use Cases

Written BY

Emily Friedman

May 9, 2024

Some lesser-known XR applications are beginning to make headlines. Discover three up-and-coming use cases for extended reality or spatial computing in business and industry:

Research / Data Collection

In 2019, Bayer used voice and smart glasses from Iristick to enable hands-free crop science data collection. In 2021, Network Rail successfully tested WorkfloPlus on RealWear for hands-free data collection and reporting. Workers operated the headset using voice, and could take pictures, record video, make calls, and track their location–all hands-free. 

Moving away from pure data collection, H&R Block (with Lieberman Research Worldwide) used VR to rethink both physical office space and the client experience way back in 2015. Instead of physical mock-ups, the firm put Oculus Rift headsets on participants’ heads to test potential (virtual) office layouts and changes to the tax experience. 

Another great example comes from Kellogg’s: In 2019, the brand worked with Accenture and Qualcomm to pilot VR and Tobii eye tracking for retail merchandising. The team used software from InContext Solutions and data analytics from Cognitive3D to look through shoppers’ eyes as they perused and selected items in a virtual grocery store, turning their behavior into quantitative data. In this way, the brand determined where to place its newest product on supermarket shelves. GSK did something similar, using VR and eye tracking to analyze shoppers’ behavior in a virtual pharmacy and determine product placement. 

Employee Wellness

In collaboration with XRHealth and NordSpace, HTC has adapted its Vive Focus 3 headset to meet the demands of space. Paired with an exercise bike, the headset allows astronauts doing long stints on the International Space Station (ISS) to connect with nature while maintaining their muscles. 

The virtual scenery, filmed in beautiful Denmark, changes to match the user’s movements while a Bluetooth-connected zero-gravity ergometer continually adjusts resistance to different elevations and surfaces–both a mental and physical escape from their surroundings.

Originally sent to the International Space Station to help astronauts maintain their mental health, VR headsets like Vive Focus 3 could provide a welcome break to employees in a variety of work environments. Your office may not be as remote and sterile as the ISS, but it can still cause stress and feelings of loneliness. This brings up an overlooked application in enterprise: Employee wellness. 

Employees today are unhappier than they were at the height of the pandemic. Given the mental health crisis in America - especially among young people - introducing VR workouts (studies show psychological benefits, too) and virtual meditation might not be a bad idea. 

In 2023, Bank of America and Lennar, a home construction company, took this to heart: The former launched VR meditation to help employees “rest and recharge” at work, while the latter piloted VR to motivate workers to reach their personal health goals. 

A number of health and wellness apps have launched for the Apple Vision Pro, as well, including the Mindfulness app which transforms the user’s surroundings into a calming, immersive environment, and Headspace XR. Odio is another app created to display 3D images in a user’s space for focus and relaxation

Besides targeted initiatives, increasing efficiencies with XR can actually improve employee wellness. A recent study found that the use of augmented reality smart glasses “directly increases workers’ perceptions of wellbeing.” 

Virtual Products 

Lastly, we have digital-only products: Brands like Nike see virtual assets, goods, and services as future revenue streams. I’m not talking about virtual stores selling physical products but rather items that are usable only in the virtual world.   

In 2021, Nike filed a trademark for the exclusive right to use its logo and slogan on digital goods in the virtual world. The following year, the sportswear giant launched .SWOOSH, a Web3 platform for members to collect and trade virtual products. More than 330,000 people signed up!

In May 2023, Nike released its first virtual sneaker collection. Sold as NFTs, each box of Our Force 1s came with a 3D file that the holder could export to other compatible platforms. Nike also announced that .SWOOSH members would be able to create their own virtual sneakers and even earn a percentage of the royalties. 

Digital fashion isn’t new: There are avatar “skins” and other digital collectables for sale in games like Fortnite, but Nike’s efforts take the category to a new level. Brands are taking note and not only fashion retailers. Even Home Depot submitted trademark documents suggesting it plans to sell both virtual and real-life products in a virtual store. 

In the future, consumers will likely buy branded clothes and accessories for their avatars. Some items will replicate real-world products and some will be marketed as digital exclusives. Physical purchases may even come with a 3D version for rendering, dressing your avatar, resale, etc. Brands could also allow customers to (co-)create and sell virtual products à la Nike—the possibilities are intriguing. 

Further Reading