Virtual reality could be compared to a living dream: being catapulted into a parallel universe without having to first fall into a deep sleep. Virtual reality, in fact, has the ability to fulfill even the most abstract ideas and desires, things that we have always thought about but haven't been able to pursue. Today, this technology is mainly associated with gaming but that’s just one of the many areas in which virtual reality has a future.
In medicine, there are many uses for virtual reality. For example, it’s possible to treat depression or anxiety by gradually exposing the patient to situations that induce panic, increasing their feeling of security regarding their phobia. In addition, it could also help hospitalized children to feel like they are at home by reproducing the image of their bedroom, or even to encouraging handicapped patients to move a little more. Regarding children, one of the latest idea by Brazilian researchers is the possibility of parents meeting their child while it is still in the mother’s womb. With the help of 3D software connected to a headset, it could be possible to immerse yourself completely into your child’s world right up to until their birth.
Below, we’ve included a video made by a company that specializes in health care who have created a software that allows you to simulate operations that the students will have to carry out (go to 00.30 to find the best part of the video).
Using a headset to receive military information isn’t a new idea, but the arrival of virtual reality means the possibilities in this area have increased significantly. For example, a Korean company, DoDAAM, has used this technology for parachuting: the participant placed in a harness and wears a virtual reality headset. With this equipment, they can get firsthand experience and can carry out movements without being in any real danger. DoDAAM have also developed a software that transforms Oculus Rift into binoculars that can be used by snipers to spot and communicate the position of their target.
The British company, Plextex is another example. Over the years, they have specialized in sensor technology which allows you to identify medical problems for soldier in the field, saving both lives and the government a lot of money. In Russia, the Svarog helmet has been developed, which includes an integrated VR viewer through which you can control a drone simply by turning your head to look at your target.
With this video, you’ll get an idea of the battlefield environments that can be recreated (go to 1:15 to get to the best bit):
The huge advantage of virtual reality when it comes to architecture is that, through a virtual reality headset, it’s possible to plunge yourself into created projects. With a 2D or 3D design, it’s impossible to visualize realistically the proportions and dimensions. As indicated by Jon Brouchoud, founder of Arch Virtual: “in education, there will probably be a classroom dedicated to virtual reality where it will be possible to wear a headset and move through the buildings that are being designed, and perhaps to use new interactive tools (such as gloves for handling intangible objects, etc.): it’s also difficult to imagine what will happen when the point of view is reversed and the architect will be able to design a building while they’re standing in it.
Here’s a video that shows the HTC Vive being used by an interior designer:
While it’s now possible for you to place your finger on a screen to create impromptu and digital art, in the future it will become more common to create impressive works of art in 3D. This offers endless artistic possibilities. Physical barriers will be effectively be removed and individual imagination will become more important. With this in mind Google has released the app, Tilt Brush. This includes a virtual paintbrush allows you to paint and design in 3D, and can be bought for around $30. You can see what it’s all about in the following video:
On October 6 last year Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, posted a selfie where his animated avatar held a virtual tablet which showed his wife, Priscilla Chan, on the screen. The next day Zuckerberg, whilst presenting the Oculus Rift during a developer conference in San Jose, spoke with the avatars for two of his colleagues. The concept can be integrated with people, or rather, with people’s avatars through social platforms like Facebook.
How long until relationships between people will be more developed in virtual reality than in real life?
In the not too distant future, students will no longer need to be in classroom looking at a blackboard or a projector. On the contrary, to get a better understanding of the prehistoric age, they could find themselves in the middle of a herd of dinosaurs with the aid of virtual reality. They could also study the Roman Empire alongside Julius Caesar as he fought the Gauls, set sail with Christopher Columbus to discover the Americas or even studying the human body by getting inside it as if they were red blood cells (have a look at 1:40 of the Body VR to see what we mean).
Imagine yourself in an empty room, completely bare. All you have is a tablet and a virtual reality headset. Put them on and it all begins; your colleagues appear beside you and with them there is the company CEO, who is actually en route to London for a business trip. Then, there’s the head of marketing manager who's based in Dubai but is drinking coffee with you in Berlin. Welcome to the virtual reality office (not being able to be in two places at once is no longer an excuse).
To better understand what we’re talking about, here’s a video that shows a home and a business co-existing in the same space:
The New York Times, to recount the presidential election race between Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, used 360° video when all four candidates presented their policy platforms. The public could walk around, enter the physical space where the discussion took place and take a closer look at the candidates. To introduce their 2017 Spring-Summer collection, Christian Dior used a 360° video as it did in 2016 to plunge users into a green grass walkway. The world of information will make it easier for us to enter it, be immersed in it and engage with the news of the day, in parliamentary debates, fashion shows or even the development of an armed conflict.
When you watch the video, don’t forget to use the mouse move around.
In sport there will no longer be points of view. There will no longer be aims, smashes or movements that you won't be able to see from every angle. You be able to see every grimace, foul or argument that takes place on a football pitch or baseball field. In the end, everyone will see what is happening during a hockey match, a marathon or a curling match. You’ll be able to live the sport through an entirely new dimension.
It's not just the spectators who'll be the only ones to benefit from virtual reality. For example, it’s now widely used in NFL training sessions. A quarterback knows exactly how to move on the field because he's been able to try each movement hundreds of times without risking injury caused by impact. Do you remember when vuvuzelas drove the players crazy during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa? If they had been trained with a VR program that included a reproduction of this sound they would have been used to it!
The more adventurous travelers out there, those ones who love to get down and dirty in the mud or soaked in torrential rain, will probably hate virtual reality. Even though I class myself as one of those people who like those types of experiences, I must admit that I am curious about the idea of exploring places that I am not in a position to visit at the moment.
It's been a while since 2001, but that was the year that Google Earth made its debut and we discovered the possibility of being able to look at the world in 3D from the comfort of our own home. Since then, we have made even more progress. With the virtual reality headset, we can navigate the whole world just like astronauts, admiring the Atacama Desert or even the Colosseum. Face it, this is exciting!