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Virtual Reality Anyone?

I saw a press announcement on Monday in which GlobalData provided an estimate of a $51billion market for VR by 2030. Rupantar Guha, Associate Project Manager for the Thematic Team at GlobalData, commented in the announcement:VR has been around for over six decades, in one form or another, but it is still not a mainstream technology. Both VR hardware and software have evolved significantly in recent years, but issues such as latency, high prices, privacy concerns and a dearth of compelling content have been preventing widespread adoption. While technologies such as 5G, cloud services and motion tracking are used to address latency issues, improving content and developing effective data privacy practices will be paramount for VR’s success. Consumer-focused VR companies are striving for that semi-mythical ‘killer app’ that would make VR a mainstream hit in the consumer market, but many companies – for example VR headset makers – are increasingly exploring the enterprise space. We expect enterprise to become the key market for VR over the next three years, outpacing the consumer segment. VR is already in use across the retail, defence, airlines, oil and gas, and healthcare industries – primarily for training purposes. However, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a shift to remote working that has boosted the adoption of VR by enterprises not just for training, but for collaboration, data visualization and customer experience.” The latter part of the statement is interesting as we had tested the views on VR and Augmented Reality in our recent Disruptive Technologies Research report sponsored by Invensoft, Kyos, Beacon and Commodities People.

Our report found that, in the commodities space, VR and AR had had a significant impact in a very small amount of scenarios and was the least interesting new technology to those who completed our survey and that there was even less interest than from a similar survey three years ago. Only 5% of respondents stated that they had investment plans in that area. However, we wrote..”despite the lack of interest in these technologies within our survey, continuing investment in applications and equipment across various industries, and investigative spending within some segments of commodities industries indicate they do hold some potential to have an impact in the coming years.” We saw potential use cases for this technology in several areas including virtual desktops, training and education, trading and data visualization yet so far there appears to have been little investment.

The most promising area in the short term may well be data visualization. “Being able to visualize ever increasing types and volumes of data is a continuing and growing issue and AR and VR may make it easier and faster to visualize and organize large amounts of data. Today, for example, Salesforce uses Oculus Rift to create an immersive 3D environment for analyzing data and Fidelity Labs, a part of Fidelity Investments, has also taken advantage of the technology behind Oculus Rift. In commodities related industries, the oil and gas exploration space has been the earliest and longest running example of a practical use of data visualization.  As mentioned, although this may be some way in the future, the ability to better organize vast numbers of screens and data, and conduct business with holographic versions of counterparties may well be one area where this technology takes off, and most likely in the financial and equities markets. However, there is little demonstrable progress in this area in the physical commodities markets. using VR/AR. Dating back to the 1980’s, service companies such as Halliburton and E&P companies such as Exxon, ARCO and many other majors have employed data visualization rooms, or immersive environments, to enable better collaborative visualizations and interpretation of 3d and 4d seismic data. Though some of these environments are still in use today, advances in processing power and desktop capabilities have moved most of these data visualization techniques onto desktop machines and large display screens that utilize active 3D glasses worn by users. Other uses of 3D visualizations being used today include mine planning, stockyard management for bulk commodities (such as that available from Eka’s bulk terminal operations system) and modeling complex processing facilities for planning and operations. In commodities trading, simple 3D visualizations are used today for modeling volatility surfaces for analyzing price and market risks – a capability embedded in a few commercially available CTRM solutions,” we stated.

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We will have to wait to see if VR/AR gets deployed in our industry in any volume but there seems little doubt that in certain specialist areas where visualization is key, there is a good chance of deployment.

Is your firm looking at VR/AR? If so, we’d like to hear from you?