Virtual reality (VR) is no longer an idea, a not-there-yet concept of simulated environment that mimics real world. The truth is it has become a real, tangible technology that steadily grows into its own industry. Naturally, gaming industry hold the closest ties to VR and rightly so. For years, possibility of total immersion into generated fantasy or real world excited hordes of gamers.
VR was more often than not referred to as the ultimate gaming experience. Even though it has been present for quite some time, the available technology couldn’t really accomplish that ultimate goal. Simply put, decades of existence did little to turn the idea of virtual reality into reality.
Today, it’s a whole another story. VR is becoming more accessible, rapidly growing in the process. There is no doubt that it’s going to be massive in the future. Google, Sony, Samsung, HTC and slew of other companies are already developing either existing or brand new VR devices. With the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook from couple of years ago, you get a clear picture. Virtual reality is no hype, it is definitely here to stay.
Virtual reality change
As it overlaps with gaming, it’s obvious that the gaming industry will be the primary source of revenue for VR. But the reason for VR’s ascent is it’s not just gamers who can benefit from the possibilities it offers. Because it can go beyond the limitations of physical tools, VR offers numerous practical uses. Most coveted use of it will be in the medicine, namely through surgeries. It’s much safer for surgeons to perfect and learn new techniques in a realistic environment without the pressure of a real-life situation. Medicine is also where VR is currently being used through planning complicated and sensitive operations. Also, to treat a range of medical conditions and to provide therapy for sick children and adults. For instance, use of VR offers diverse experiences to individuals with mobility problems, making their treatment easier and more bearable.
The whole segment of training and development is one of the main advantages of VR. Understandably so, military has long been one of the earliest proponents of VR. Like surgeons, pilots and soldiers benefit from the use of use flight and combat simulators. The level of immersion virtual reality offers presents a perfect realistic and harmless way to hone their skills.
Education and Retail
Education is also poised to change with the use of VR. One fine example of change is Google Expeditions. By using virtual reality headsets, children are able to go on a virtual reality journeys like surface of Mars or Antarctica. This will make learning from textbooks or labs more entertaining and will greatly enhance learning abilities. This particularly goes for poor countries, where quality education is sorely needed. Adapting VR into education has the potential to ultimately transform how we teach and how we learn.
Retail will be another category that will be significantly impacted by VR. Many predict e-commerce will feature VR in the strongests of capacities. You will be able to step into a real store, see the products, touch and feel them. There would be no need to head to the mall when you can browse stores from your couch. This would ultimately completely alter the shopping experience. Same goes for movie industry. Everything will be more interactive, enhancing the experience to the point where you will practically be in the movie.
Basically, parts of economy will benefit greatly. Each of the mentioned industries, along with many others, will experience a certain transformation. This transformation will allow for sizeable savings that will make everything less expensive. At the same time, it will create demand for a whole new set of products and services, especially in the IT sector. Due to large consumer demand, there will be an increased need for virtual designers, developers, graphic artists and more.
The change on a personal level
Among heaps of practical uses of VR, perhaps the biggest change on our lives will be on a personal level. We will create a closer, more intimate approach than what we have today. If anything, virtual reality has the potential to gradually change lives for better or for worse.
It will help to get back in touch with ourselves. Spiritually, we will refine our senses of what is real and what is not. We will have a better understanding of how world around us works by being like a molecule or a planet. Virtual worlds may open new ways of examining our own, perhaps making us more empathetic with the world around us.
The way the internet changed how we communicate information, virtual reality will change the way we absorb experiences. Seeing the world will be possible from the comfort of your home. Programs like aforementioned Google Expeditions do just that, deliver the world to your living room. You could enjoy museum tours, visit monuments remotely or maybe opt for some relaxing on the beach. The possibilities are endless.
This will also produce a new form of escapism, separating people from others. Self-imposed social isolation will be more present. Due to the fact that VR may radically alter social and emotional needs over time, some will withdraw physically from society. There may be no need for the real world when virtual one satisfies all the needs. As a result, real social interactions may become distant, unfamiliar.
When it comes to virtual reality, imagination is the only limit. The possibilities of VR use to improve the quality of people’s lives are quite inspiring. As with all of technology, there are ones that will abuse it and take it to unhealthy extremes. This is nothing new as we have lived and are living it through appearance of internet. VR allows you to live in your own world the way you want to. This occurrence is understandable – the promise of a virtual escape is both unsettling and exciting. Time will tell what effect it will have, but It is solely up to us to determine that.
Image Credit: Flickr / Knight Center For Journalism in Americas