Virtual reality is tipped to be the next big thing.
Whether you want to drive a tank into war, experience a day in the skin of the opposite sex, or travel into space – amazing applications of virtual reality are becoming more commonplace.
It is eyeopening to see how interest in virtual reality has had a resurgence over the last 2 years, and this is due to a number of exciting advancements in technology like the Oculus Rift.
What’s even more important, is that it is not just about gaming and recreation, it is expected to expand to other areas of our lives as well.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is the simulation of an artificial environment using means such as computers and software, to make the user believe and feel that he or she is in fact in a real setting.
Although, we often associate virtual reality with 3-D video games, there’s a lot more to it than just gaming.
What is Virtual Reality Currently Used for?
One of its most interesting uses is in Medicine where a doctor can perform surgery on a virtual patient to improve their surgical skills.
Also medical professionals can use virtual reality to replicate seeing inside a patient’s body to much greater detail than when using X-rays and other types of scanners.
Here are some more usage examples:
- Psychology: In order to help people cope with their phobias, they are presented with an artificial setting that includes the feared item, e.g. spiders, closed spaces, etc.
Many people have been cured of phobias by first facing the “virtual” fear – which provides no real threat to the patient.
Virtual drop helps confront fear of heights
- Aeronautics/aviation: When designing an airplane, the engineer doesn’t have to come up with physical prototypes which are time and resource-consuming.
With virtual reality, a type of hologram of the aircraft is created so the inventors can test it and check it to see if it works or needs some modification.
- Sports: Virtual reality replicates our reality very precisely. It is this factor that allows trainers to give real-time sports training to their team’s players.
The Dallas Cowboys recently signed a 2 year contract with a StriVR Labs, a virtual reality company to improve their team’s performance. The program has showed to improve a team’s score by over 50%!
- Criminology: In order to provide judges with a more objective perspective on the case they are deciding on, virtual reality is taking the crime scene to the court.
This way, the jury and the judge will have an identical view of the crime that happened and agree on a decision more fairly. With this approach, less innocent people will be deemed guilty and those who do commit crimes will be given the sentence they deserve.
- Robotics: When sending a robot to Mars, they are usually sent with an attached camera that give scientists a very poor view of that planet. With virtual reality, namely, the Oculus Rift headset used by NASA scientists, they can now have a “virtual tour” through the planet.
On top of that, it also has a Kinetic option in which the robot’s arm moves every time the user of the Oculus Rift headset move his or her arm!
How Does Virtual Reality Work?
Oculus Rift is due to be released in the first quarter of 2016.
This amazing VR headset is tipped to change how we interact with our computers and here are some of the amazing examples of it’s potential.
We don’t have to be PhD’s in systems engineering and programming to understand how virtual reality works – at least to some extent.
The core of virtual reality is in the software.
This software has a multidimensional model of a virtual world or worlds which is stored in the computer’s RAM or memory, all of which is codified in terms of bits.
Here comes the tricky part. When the user takes part of the virtual reality setting, and let’s say, moves his hand, there is data flow from the vest or headset to the program itself which is immediately followed by a change in the virtual reality setting or the user in it.
Where Will Virtual Reality be in Ten Years?
One thing is sure: virtual reality is here to stay (and expand).
Here are a few possible scenarios:
- Social VR: When Facebook gets into something, we better start noticing. Facebook has announced that it will incorporate VR into social media.
What this means is that in the future, social media interactions won’t just be in 2 dimensions (computer screen) but in three with VR equipment and technology.
- Video games: We had to mention video games sooner or later, right? What’s going to be new in video games is the concept of motion controls.
Virtual reality video games will have more precise motion controls that will allow users to touch and interact even more with their virtual surrounding.
- Other items: Google glass is a product that will allow us to live in a type of virtual-real world in which we’ll be able to chat or take pics while still being in “this real world”.
If you can remember when the first cell phones came out, they were pretty cumbersome looking.
The same thing applies to VR headsets and equipment, over time the technology will get smaller, faster and better quality.
At some point in our lives it may become hard to even comprehend the difference between real, and virtual worlds. You might for instance, go to work in a virtual environment with virtual colleagues.
Holidays of the future may involve putting on a headset and within seconds you could be swimming through the surf in Hawaii, or climbing up Mt Everest.
Better pinch yourself – how do you know you aren’t living in a virtual world right now?