Ways in which virtual reality will change the world
Virtual reality isn’t just for gaming – it’s a technology that can make a real difference to our collective futures. Here’s how VR will change our world.
Virtual reality is the future, though not the future we were promised by ridiculous 1992 techno-thriller The Lawnmower Man.
No, the new VR is something to actually pay attention to – the technological kinks have more or less been ironed out, big companies like HTC, Facebook and Sony are creating their own hardware and, importantly, it’s going to be affordable for normal people. With the HTC Vive, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s PlayStation VR doing the rounds, we thought we’d take a look at a few ways that – this time around – VR could change the world.
The most obvious use for virtual reality is gaming. It’s unlikely to be supported by all games any time yet. But if you get the chance to try it, do – it offers an intense, immersive and impressive experience that elevates gaming to a whole new level.
Something that has been talked about with wide-eyed wonder is fully immersive VR movies.
Think of 3D films, then think of actual, true 3D – a movie world you can explore at your own pace, looking at the action from different angles and paying attention to whatever you choose to. It’s theoretical at best right now, but the possibility is there. And it could change film-watching forever.
Think how compulsive it can be to just look around the world on Google Maps. Then think of how much more immersive it would be to do the same through your own eyes… sort of.
VR would allow remote tours of museums for people unable to get to the building, and would let estate agents give potential buyers a look around a property without them having to leave the comfort of their own home.
It’s better and safer for surgeons in training to perfect their techniques on things other than real humans, but it would also be better for trainee surgeons to practise on things that aren’t just plastic models or people who have left their bodies to medical science.
As such, a fully-interactive, accurately modelled specimens, suffering from a selection of ailments which need surgery to be carried out through a VR interface, would make for better-trained, better-performing surgeons – something that’s better for all of us. Surgeon Simulator 2013 was a tongue-in-cheek game based on this premise.
The potential to fly round in space using a Google Maps-style interface would be fun and interesting.
But a space agency putting cameras all over their equipment and sending them out to the great black unknown, with scientists on Earth viewing and navigating through a VR headset, would allow for space exploration in a way we’ve never seen before.
Teaching people to fly
Pilots already learn to fly using flight simulators, but like surgeons they could really do with something a lot more immersive and realistic to properly hone their skills. VR can be that technology. We’ve played Eve: Valkyrie – where you take the role of a spaceship pilot – and it did seem real, even though we knew it wasn’t. That level of immersion on something that is actually based in reality? That could only ever be a help.
Improving quality of life
There are many people out there who, for whatever reason, aren’t capable of living a normal life. They deserve to be able to live, to explore, and to experience the wonder of the world (and beyond). VR could be an outlet for the disabled and otherwise housebound – a way to experience what the able-bodied often take for granted. And that would be a brilliant thing.