Professional services firm PwC has unveiled its virtual reality (VR) experience, which it claims gives companies a better understanding of technologies that could have a disruptive effect on their sector.

The VR programme takes clients through a futuristic smart city, showing them 20 emerging technologies—such as driverless cars, drones, and artificial intelligence—which are expected to have an impact upon businesses in coming years.

Using a controller to ‘teleport’ through the city, participants can interact with a disruptive technology when encountered, such as robotic law enforcement, and be provided with information about the technology. They can then rate the credibility and impact of each disruption.

“The point of VR is to try to collapse the future into the present,” said head of disruption at PwC Leo Johnson.

“So what we’ve tried to do is scan the horizon for weak signals of all the stuff that’s out there that could impact a whole load of industries: from construction, to law, to cameras, to motorway service stations, to pickles, to airports.”

So far PwC has trialled the experience with more than 100 clients from a range of industries, including real estate, banking and local government.

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PwC hopes that the experience will drive richer conversations with clients and explore how a technological development in one sector could have consequences in another. For example, longer life expectancy could impact upon the construction industry through increased housing demand.

The organisation sees the programme as a ‘storytelling business communication tool’ which supplements the reports, conversations and media that they have traditionally provided clients.

PwC VR lead Jeremy Dalton said that traditional methods resulted in telling the story from the third person, ‘sitting outside that future looking in.’

“Ultimately we wanted to get rid of that disconnect and make it a more powerful, immersive experience for the client so that they can be emotionally brought into this world and properly understand that future and all of the disruptions we’re trying to convey to them,” he said.

The experience, developed with creative agency REWIND, is the first known example of VR being used as a storytelling tool for businesses to engage with the future, and Dalton believes that every industry has an application for VR technology.

“This tool demonstrates there is far more to VR than gaming—it’s a technology with huge potential across a whole host of sectors, including professional services, with its power to engage people in a new way,” he said.