Many people think of fully immersive gaming when they think of virtual reality – or even an alternative, virtual universe or existence. However, despite virtual reality’s Hollywood portrayals – like the Holodeck on the USS Enterprise – in reality VR is not quite that advanced. And, while it certainly does offer extraordinary gaming possibilities, it holds many more practical applications, too.
Sadly, you can’t simply slip on a VR visor, lay back, and be whisked away to a virtual universe. However, it is possible to “enter” a virtual world with the correct technology, like that produced by Oculus VR.
Virtual Reality Gaming
Virtual reality gaming is still in its infancy, largely because of the incredibly expensive technology required to make it possible. Therefore, at the moment, it is not widely available to the masses.
However, developers have big plans. They aim to create fully immersive VR gaming devices. These machines will use a head-mounted display which allows you to see the virtual world. Additionally, these headsets or other peripherals will provide exceptionally realistic audio that gets louder or softer depending on the direction of your head and the closeness to the virtual origin of the sound. The use of a data glove, containing haptic technology provides responsive touch and player movement.
Real World Applications
Aside from gaming, VR has a huge range of useful real-world applications that fall largely into these categories:
- Emergency Response
For architecture, construction, and real estate, virtual reality is used to allow buyers, investors, or other interested parties to “walk through” a virtual version of a building before the real-world version is complete.
In sports, VR is used to simulate games and specific tasks and situations to help with training, strategy, or injury recovery.
VR has a huge range of applications in medicine. From training doctors and surgeons before letting them loose on living patients, to helping to treat PTSD victims, the possibilities are infinite. Virtual reality can be used to help treat victims of traumatic experiences, from veterans to victims of crime, by recreating the experience in carefully controlled conditions to enable the patients to face their fears and move forward with therapy and healing.
Similarly, for people who suffer from social anxiety or agoraphobia, or a range of other phobias, virtual reality can be used to help with treatment, by slowly introducing patients to scenarios that bring on the fearful or anxious emotions in a virtual world.
Emergency response is another field where VR excels. Because it is impossible (or just too dangerous) to recreate certain situations, such as an earthquake, a landslide, or an oil rig fire, it is almost impossible to practice emergency response effectively. However, if you can simulate these scenarios using a VR system, you can practice how to react and respond. So, in these situations, the use of VR in training can potentially save lives.
Is it Really Possible?
Yes, VR is possible and is already among us, although comparatively rudimentary and not widely available. However, numerous companies and innovators, like GameFace, Project Morpheus, and Oculus are making great strides, eliminating weaknesses and making VR more useful, more detailed, and more accessible to all.
Coming very soon, and already having 3,500 pre-orders, is the Omni, a head-mounted display and special shoes that allow you to run, walk, or jog on a treadmill in a virtual reality of your choice. So, while exercising and keeping fit, you can get away from the park across the road and run through the streets of Paris, through the Himalayas, or walk and explore the streets of ancient Rome.