Forget checking social media or online shopping, because it’s possible (and probable), that the future of lunch breaks will include strapping on a headset to ride an underwater rollercoaster. (And you thought you couldn’t spice up your work day!)
Virtual reality (or VR, as it’s often called) is not just for play, though, and there’s no doubt that this technology will change the way you work in a major way. This is especially true for developers or other technical folks, but the evolution of the VR will have an impact on every industry.
A little context here—virtual reality, while still considered to be in its infancy, is growing rapidly. Deloitte Global estimates that 2.5 million VR headsets were sold globally last year. And though the technology is not yet in every household, there’s a possibility that 2017 is the year that virtual reality goes mainstream.
And this expanding industry is about to make your job way more exciting. Here’s how.
1. Let’s Start with the Obvious: More Jobs
You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to know that VR’s influence on the video game industry is huge. And as the industry grows, it’s likely that development jobs in VR will grow, too. The best part? You don’t have to be a game developer to find opportunity, as the industry will need support from those with experience in UI/UX, legal, marketing, business development, and more.
Sound interesting? If you think you might want to get into VR gaming, start training now. There are conferences and meetups happening all over the country, like the Game Developers Conference and the Experiential Technology Conference + Expo in San Francisco and the IEEE Virtual Reality Conference in Los Angeles. Go get your learning on, and find people who are already in the space to network with along the way.
You’re also going to want to get intimately familiar with VR technology. Find a course that lets you hone your skills in technologies that VR companies care about – 3D animation, modeling, object-oriented programming and software development kits (SDKs). There are tons of relevant programming courses out there – and some of them, like a beginners course from Udacity are totally free.
2. Marketing Will Become Immersive
Marketing agencies are usually among the first to experiment with new digital technology, and VR is no exception. "We are definitely watching VR trends with a keen eye," says Gareth Price, Technical Director at New York-based digital agency Ready Set Rocket.
Agencies like his are building relationships with specialists who can create VR content for digital marketing campaigns. Price believes these types of tech jobs "will blend the skills required of designers, developers, filmmakers, and 3D artists in new and more collaborative ways."
His advice to digital agency employees is to get to know this technology as soon as possible. Ready Set Rocket has Oculus and Samsung rigs in-house for testing purposes, and Price encourages his staff to take them home for a spin. "Start experimenting on your own time right now as an investment into your career," he says. "Today's side project will turn into tomorrow's high-flying job."
3. Remote Work Will Get Social
Since it acquired Oculus in 2014, Facebook has been exploring ways to integrate virtual reality into the social networking experience. When CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage last year at the Oculus Connect conference, he showed he was able to interact with participating co-workers in an immersive virtual world. He also showed just how transformative the technology might be for the way you work in the future.
So if you're tired of unproductive work calls, take heart: You may soon be able to conduct your brainstorming sessions, interviews, and status updates from a beach in Mexico. With a virtual office, you can connect with colleagues stationed all over the world for more personal and effective meetings. Time to brush up on soft skills like being a good collaborator!
4. Every Industry Will Get a 360 View
Not in tech? That doesn't mean VR won't impact your career. Research from product strategy, design, and development company Yeti shows that close to 54% of U.S. product developers are already working on VR projects, with applications ranging from entertainment to education, healthcare, and travel.
According to Gareth Price, the biggest challenge companies face with VR right now is figuring out "how to tell stories well [using virtual reality]”, so brush up on your plotting, writing, and storyboarding skills, or read up on brands who are already doing it well. Once you figure out what you want to show your customers—say, the benefits of your hospitality brand’s swim-up bars—you'll be able to see how VR could enhance it. All that's left is to find a development partner to bring your brand story to life.
With so many companies experimenting with this technology, it won't be long before virtual reality is a reality in jobs of all kinds. So strap on your headset. Your career is in for a wild ride.