Virtual reality (VR) has been a long-time coming. It started back in the 1980s but the machines were huge, the games sucked and they made people throw up due to motion sickness. However, as technology has improved – virtual reality has re-emerged and today it’s about ready to go mainstream. You might not believe it but virtual reality will change all of our lives and here are 10 ways that will happen:
This is going to be a big deal for police forces where they’re trying to ensure that a police officer reacts appropriately in any given situation. You don’t want an officer pulling his gun on a child with a water pistol but not do you want her to take unnecessary risks when the perpetrator is holding an AK-47. Virtual reality simulators means the police officers can be thrown into hundreds of different situations and their reactions can be guided through experience. The key is to teach police officers de-escalation techniques as part of these programs so that gun use becomes a last resort.
At Duke University the neuroscience team have achieved something truly remarkable with VR – they’ve taught paralyzed people how to access their nerves by giving them the experience of walking in a virtual environment. This has led to almost 50% of patients involved in the trials learning to regain actual mobility, of some form, in real life. How the technique achieves these results is not yet fully understood but they’re remarkable results nonetheless.
When a jury is empanelled they will be asked to revisit the scene of the crime but this, to date, has always meant listening to expert witnesses and reviewing video and photographic evidence. VR means that this is no longer the case and that crime scenes can be rendered in full so that juries can get a true understanding of the scene and better interpret the data they are given by the prosecution and defense teams.
If there’s a technological advance that doesn’t somehow get pulled into the realm of sex – we’re not sure what it would be. VR promises something completely new; truly immersive porn. Pop your headset on and a body suit which contains various “stimulating devices” and you can suddenly be banging your favorite porn star rather than watching them bang. We’re not sure what this means for the future of the human race because if people are staying at home playing in VR fantasy – where will the babies come from?
If you can build and test prototypes in VR; you can substantially reduce manufacturing costs and then move straight to production without costly interim prototypes. This isn’t quite ready yet but they’ve already got software which allows people to create fully interactive 3D-models in space and that can help with product testing too. New components can be overlaid on the real world to see how they look and feel before moving to production.
Yet More Marketing
If there’s one thing that’s never in doubt; when there’s something cool in the offing – somewhere there’s a marketer looking to exploit that fact. Imagine a world where you can play with every single product that you’re thinking of buying – without having to visit a store. Amazon must be rubbing its hands with glee. There’s also the possibility of interactive adverts where you get to drink a Coke with all those hot people that feature in Coke adverts. For the moment we’re at the stage where car manufacturers can put you behind a virtual wheel and let you take your dream car for a spin – expect lots more developments in the near future.
Cooler Theme Parks
Nobody wants to go on last year’s rollercoaster; everybody’s chasing the newest, biggest, baddest, thrill but rollercoasters cost a ton of money to create and they can’t be scrapped and replaced as the fashions change. Otherwise every theme park would go broke. Virtual reality can be used to beef up older rollercoaster rides and offer new experiences on them – imagine being attacked by aliens on a rollercoaster! It’s the reality at the Dare Devil Dive in Six Flags Over Georgia thanks to VR.
Improved Sports Coaching
Virtual reality means that pro-teams and enthusiastic amateur sports people should be able to practice in “real conditions” all the time. That means good bye to faking it when the weather’s sub-optimal and hello to cross country skiing in the middle of Death Valley. This isn’t a futuristic idea either – many major sports leagues are already investing heavily in VR coaching programs that allow them to maximize the investments they make in their athletes. VR also offers tons of computer generated analytical data that can help tweak someone’s skills to perfection.
Would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who’d never carried out the operation before? Sadly, in the case of rare conditions this is often a necessity because there aren’t enough patients to go round for surgeons to practice on. VR promises to alleviate this problem by enabling surgeons to carry out regular practice for complex operations and to keep their skills up-to-the-minute with more routine procedures too. We think that a lot of patients will be happier to hear that their surgeon has faced a procedure before they operate on them – and current results show that VR training has serious benefits in reducing surgical errors too.
An End to Fear
The best way to cure a phobia is to use exposure treatment for that phobia. But if someone’s scared of flying, for example, that treatment would be both costly and straight up impractical. But if you can put a VR headset on someone and slowly work them through that exposure without having to charter a plane and allowing someone to run away from it a lot – you can help them overcome their phobia in a practical and effective manner. That’s already happening at the University of West Virginia in Charleston.