Seven Ways VR Will Change the World
I don’t know about you, but since I was a child I dreamed longingly for the age of virtual reality, for the days when I could put on a mask or a headset and shoot monsters, leap across buildings, or immerse myself in any other way so that I felt like I was in their world.
And now, that age has come.
While we can stand by and marvel at the new cultural tendencies of our day and age (be they good or bad), this is a feat of new proportions.
We are finally on the brink of a gaming revolution, but these advancements in both virtual reality and augmented reality have so much more to them than what the child version of me ever even dreamed of them being able to do.
The Virtual Reality And Augmented Reality Hardware
As far as virtual reality, the most successful pieces of hardware developed so far have been the Samsung Gear VR Headset and the HTC Vive. The Samsung Gear VR has been most popular due to its ease of use, lower price, and partnership with Oculus.
The Vive is for those who are far more heavily invested in the industry, boasting 2160 x 1200 combined resolution, heavily incorporated sensors for fuller immersion, and a number of other specs that put it above the rest.
The VR world is quickly turning into a battleground, with virtually every tech company weighing in with their ideas: Microsoft’s Hololens, Metavisions’ Meta 2, Sony’s Playstation VR, Google Cardboard and Daydream Initiative, and countless others.
Augmented reality is having a tougher time breaking through the mainstream tech (mainly due to the lack of software), but offers some impressive devices, particularly the Hololens, ODG Smartglasses, and Atheer AirGlasses.
Industries About To Experience a Revolution
Immersive VR Gaming – This is the most obvious of all of the industries. Between the Hololens, Playstation VR, and whatever Nintendo may be coming out with to correct the Virtual Boy disaster, the gaming world is ready for an incredible leap in experience.
The new technology also makes room for new console companies to emerge, and provides a new outlet for PC gamers.
In just a few years we’ve gone from blocky RPG’s to lifelike graphics, and VR allows us to immerse ourselves in a new reality, again fulfilling the dreams of so many children and adults.
Up until now, our interaction with a fictional world has been limited to buttons on a controller or keys on a keyboard. At best, driving would be able to be done with an extra purchase of a steering wheel.
Nintendo made some serious advancement with their sensor development and burst back onto the scene with the Wii. Considering how popular that became, just imagine how intoxicating it will be to jump into a world, without limiting wires, small monitors, or those pesky distractions within your field of vision.
The whole draw of games in the past has been how immersive the stories and characters are, even without great graphics (take, for example, Final Fantasy VII).
Now, those same compelling narratives can be worked out where the player can become a part of that world in first person.
The only drawback of such an experience might be the higher chance of someone becoming so immersed in a fictional world they forget where reality ends and the game begins (insert Twilight Zone music here).
While there are definitely still some kinks to be worked out before VR gaming takes over completely, virtual reality is finally here – and here to stay.
Virtual Reality Movies and Television? Similarly to games, movies and television are another easily pioneered territory for the VR world. Already you can find immersive movies on the VR stores that put you into the story and allow you to watch 360 degrees.
As is the case with gaming, movies will become far more immersive than they have already been.
Even Youtubers have begun filming 360-degree videos, allowing the user to watch a whole world during a short session. Most of these videos are compatible with regular handheld devices as well, not needing any of the VR headsets.
However, It probably takes incredible cameras, camerawork, and editing to create a 360 movie and make it seamless. Animated movies may not require so much, but you can imagine the extra work that would go into it.
There may be a line in genre or “first-personhood” filmmakers and developers will want to consider when making these, so that a future Batman reboot doesn’t spend too much time trying to make the watcher feel like Batman.
Sports Will Get Real – For years we’ve had the benefits of the first down lines on our TV screens, drawings of plays, hockey puck glows, and other subtle bits augmented reality in our televised sports. But now, VR and AR are going to take over sports in a whole new way.
VR allows coaches and players to more closely analyze plays, form, and even practice. NFL teams like the Cowboys are already using it to aid in this way.
On the entertainment side, where stadium size once limited the number of tickets a sports franchise could sell, the use of VR allows for someone to sit at center-court and watch the Final Four – that is, for a price.
While we probably won’t see soccer mom’s running an analysis on their daughters’ kicking form, we can definitely expect it to add an element to training and to watching that we’ve never experienced before.
The Healthcare System Will Jump to New Heights – while many have seen the trend of the “Surgeon Simulator” game for VR, there are far more life saving benefits the healthcare industry will see soon.
Students training for surgery will now be able to experience through VR operations from the perspective of the experienced surgeon. This will far better prep prospective doctors for doing real operations.
Patients will be able to experience environments that are far happier than the depressing hospital rooms. Doctors can use VR to make their patients feel like they’re at home, or even relaxing the patients with certain images, movies, or games, that they otherwise would not be able to experience while on bed rest.
Physical therapy can also be done through VR, for patients who need more frequent visits or cannot easily make it to clinics.
The Reality of War – what would technological advancements be if they were not useful on the military front? Much like the athletic and healthcare worlds, new tech in VR will allow for better training and combat, medic, vehicle, and flight simulations.
Using VR to enhance training overall can potentially drive the costs down overall, and hopefully reduce military spending at least slightly.
A not-often mentioned benefit (which relates to the healthcare field) is the use of VR in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is incredibly harmful and leads to an awful number of suicides and other effects of former soldiers. VR allows them to adjust.
Real Estate Gets a Facelift – For the past few years, vacation and hotel sites, as well as real estate companies, have added the “360-degree tour” to their photos. VR makes it much easier for a prospective buyer or tourist to do walk-through tours of their desired rooms. Perhaps more importantly, VR might allow prospective buyers to explore a 3D rendering of a house that has not already been built.
That might be where the benefits for real estate stop, though. It will make the jobs of agents easier, for sure, and will help buyers weed out homes they do not want and save everyone some time, but that’s where it reaches its limits of usefulness.
Virtual Reality Will Revolutionize All Things Business – well, duh. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? But it isn’t just about certain subjects – it’s about the way we do business.
Available telecommuting jobs will skyrocket. Teleconferencing will be far more personal and natural.
Human resources dealings and training will be done from anywhere. Products will be far more accessible. Geography will be irrelevant.
The telephone created a business boom. Commercial jets took the next step. Videoconferencing took another.
But now, with immersive virtual realities, personal business and e-commerce can take the next step and advance lifestyles to a new high.
Honorable Mention: Augmented Reality
If you’re going to talk about how VR is going to change the world, you can’t forget about the advancements augmented reality has made and how it is going to burst onto the scene and revolutionize industry and our daily lives in many of the same ways virtual reality will.
Pokémon Go has already given us a tiny taste of what AR can do, and it may be some time before we get to the level of Tony Stark’s AR headset, but we’re getting there. Exploring new cities will be far easier and informative, worker safety will improve, and shopping will never be the same.
Unfortunately, it would take far too long to go over, detail, and illustrate every way in which virtual and augmented reality will change our lives. Be on the lookout though, for the new software and hardware that has and will be soon emerging from the tech market.
Just you wait – all of your alternative reality dreams are about to come true.
Sometimes I'm not really even sure if it's me doing the writing, or I am just a channel for the stories themselves. Either way, I hope you enjoy both this work, and the many works to come, and remember, yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift, that's why we call it the present.
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