Limitless. Transformative. Game changing. Making the impossible possible. Descriptions of virtual reality (VR) in the media are filled with spectacular, almost inconceivable declarations. But what does this technology realistically mean for your business? How do you sort through the hype to have a clear understanding of what virtual reality is and when to include it in your business strategy?

Virtual reality, especially in its current developmental state, has strengths and weaknesses. There are times when VR can make a huge difference in your bottom line and sales, as well there are situations when it doesn’t make sense to invest time and resources in an early-stage technology. Knowing those critical elements will keep you from wasting valuable time in assessing VR for your business.

I started building virtual worlds and immersive experiences over 15 years ago. My background as a developer, researcher, and entrepreneur in this industry can provide you with an insightful and practical look into virtual reality as a business tool.

As a consultant with clients ranging from non profit organizations to corporate marketing teams and entertainment conglomerates, some of the questions I am frequently asked are:

What is the difference between all these types of “virtual reality” I hear about?

There are essentially three different types of “virtual reality”: 360 video, MobileVR, and TetheredVR. Technical purists do not consider 360 video such as YouTube360 and Facebook360 to be VR because watching a 360 video on a computer or mobile phone is non-immersive. Mobile VR uses smartphones as the processor and screen that are inserted into head-mounted displays like Google Cardboard or GearVR. The third type is tethered VR such as Oculus and Vive, which connected to high-powered computers to drive the experiences.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

There is an inverse relationship between computational power and accessibility for each of type of VR. Most people have a smartphone and access to the internet. If your goal is to reach the largest audience possible, these 360 video platforms would be ideal for you to explore. However, these devices and platforms are limited in their computational power and can overheat or be limited by battery levels. If you want to create a more powerful, unique experience, tethered devices offer interactivity, room scale tracking and can handle more complex environments. But because tethered VR is limited to being attached to a robust computer, there tends to be limited access to these machines.

How has virtual reality been used successfully in business strategies?

The gaming and entertainment industries have dominated VR developments. But you run a business. Virtual reality technology has been implemented successfully for goals from increasing sales, improving marketing and streamlining training. For specific case studies with in-studio demonstrations of each type of VR, please watch my ExecSense presentation, “The Reality of Virtual Reality.”

Virtual reality is an exciting technology that is exploding into our culture and communities. It offers distinct advantages over traditional mediums for meaningfully engaging with audiences. From concept to distribution, if you have specific questions about how VR can be used in your business, feel free to contact me at

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ExecSense Speaker

Stephanie Riggs

Stephanie Riggs
Founder & President, Sunchaser Entertainment

Expertise: Storytelling & Technology

Stephanie Riggs is an interdisciplinary storyteller focused on directing narrative-driven virtual and immersive experiences.

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She began developing virtual reality in the 1990s and eventually founded Sunchaser Entertainment to continue pushing the boundaries of traditional narrative techniques and immersive technology. Creating unique and compelling experiences for the next generation of content, Stephanie has worked with Intel, Disney Creative Entertainment (Walt Disney Imagineering), Walt Disney Productions, HBO, Atlas Media, and Carmike Cinemas.

Grounded in traditional narrative techniques, Stephanie is a New York Times Critic’s Pick director for her documentary “The Standbys”. She produced Blair Erickson’s award-winning stereoscopic 3D feature thriller, “Banshee Chapter,” with Zachary Quinto and, in 2015, was invited to film President Barack Obama’s historic speech in Nairobi, Kenya, making him the first US President recorded in virtual reality. Her most recent VR documentary, “Kanju,” had it’s world premier at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival’s virtual arcade.

Today, Stephanie is regularly invited to speak about the merging of storytelling and technology at conferences and festivals. She holds degrees in Directing (Drama) and Human-Computer Interaction (Computer Science) from Carnegie Mellon University.

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