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How will VR change the world?

At LegRoom, we love tech. Not all of us love video games, but those of us who do, really do. Admittedly, the Playstation is not our console of choice (don’t hate us!), so we’re yet to experience this technology first-hand, but as a couple of us are avid gamers, you can bet we’ve been following news of virtual reality in the gaming industry very closely over the last few years.

Over the last six months or so, the mainstream media has been giving VR more attention, and our team has been thinking about how this technology might impact other industries, not just gaming.

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Although virtual reality has been around for many decades, the last twelve months have seen a surge in revenue (we’re talking roughly $1 billion!), with influential companies like Google and Facebook jumping on board and utilising the technology within their offices.

So what do we think the future holds?

You might not be a Fortune 500 company like Google (Alphabet) or Facebook, but chances are, you’re going to be able to find a use for this technology.

Education

For the most part, online education has become part of the norm – most people are comfortable enough with the idea of watching ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube and following along with live streamed conferences. We’re becoming more and more interested in the idea of interactive technology, so naturally, the introduction of virtual reality is the next logical step in education.

You might’ve heard about a group of students in Ireland who recreated Clonmacnoise, a town with historic ruins. They used a program called MissionV, and explored their creation with Oculus Rift headsets.

We found this video to show you exactly how it works:

So let’s think about the impact that virtual reality technology is going to make on the learning process…

  • Collaborating in a virtual reality classroom encourages social interaction – it has been proven that students who are struggling to fit in, or who are lacking in confidence came out of their shells when placed in a virtual reality classroom – they were able to feel accepted by their peers because of their technology skills, and adversely, students lacking in confidence with their math skills felt like self-assured technology experts.
  • The impossible becomes possible – “the pedagogies of constructivism and game-based learning show that children learn best by doing or by being,” Corbett told EdTechReview. “So they shouldn’t just read about history — they should ‘be’ historians. They shouldn’t just study archaeology — they should ‘be’ archaeologists.”
  • Virtual reality is giving institutions the ability to introduce practical knowledge to the classroom, without having to leave it. Instead of listening to lectures, students can experience environments first hand, in a virtual setting.
  • Game-based learning increases motivation – it’s no secret that game-based learning increases students’ motivation (thank you Carmen Sandiego!), but with technology so advanced, the student is immersed in the game’s world – they’re provided with an authentic context for each activity. We know that students (particularly children) need inspiration and encouragement to motivate them – virtual reality engages students in a way that will eventually steer their desire for exploration more toward intellect and away from play.

But, best of all, we can finally say goodbye to those snarky little comments from grandparents about video games rotting our brains. Success!

Data Visualisation

If you’re someone who has designed a tonne of infographics, you’ll know that bar graphs and pie charts can only go so far. These days, large-scale projects require more detailed presentations and need to show more of the ‘bigger picture’.

When working with numbers, graphics need to be simple enough for the user to identify the correlation between thousands of points of data (sometimes more!). Companies are also finding it to be useful for these correlations to be shown in real time – it’s been proven that the human eye is limited to processing less that 1 kilobit of information per second when reading from a screen – there’s a gap between the interface and our ability to keep up.

Imagine now, being able to immerse yourself in a digitally created space, offering 360-degree views of simulated, 3D movements. Technically, you’re there, experiencing this data in the real world. We can process this information in real-time, and it will leave a lasting impression on us – it’s a physical experience, not just a series of numbers on a screen. It’s like a virtual Good Will Hunting!

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Healthcare

With the rarity and complexity of some medical procedures, healthcare professionals are not always as well-versed across the board when it comes to dealing with certain techniques or surgeries. Allowing students and professionals to simulate surgeries in real-time will not only increase exposure to some of the more uncommon procedures or illnesses, it will more than likely allow us to improve our approach and in some cases it might even assist in developing cures.

Granted it’s not the same as operating on a live patient, but it’s certainly going to provide these professionals with more hands-on experience than they would’ve had prior.

The introduction of virtual reality would serve the healthcare industry as both a training tool, as well as a diagnostic device.

Public Safety

America is already adopting virtual reality technology to assist in the training of police officers. The officers are made to deal with real-life situations, with added touches of electric shocks to encourage realistic stress and 360-degree views, adding an element of surprise if in a simulation alone.

It’s believed that this technique will assist in the de-escalation of situations, offering officers the opportunity to improve communication techniques, while encouraging them to avoid shooting unless absolutely necessary.

Numerous studies have indicated that virtual reality simulations are more effective at training officers than classroom settings – placing them in real-life situations, designed specifically to place these officers in environments where others have failed, showing them that they can succeed and make the correct decisions.

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It remains unknown whether the virtual training will actually reduce fatalities and force in real-life encounters. It’s unknown how factors such as race, religion, gender and etc. will play a part in the simulation, in an attempt to stop corrupt officers from making wrong decisions, as we’ve seen in the media all too often. The success of the program relies heavily on legal and social reforms.

Some other quick thoughts the team has thrown around –

  • Immersive VR experiences will allow potential customers to feel emotion, building a new kind of relationship between brand and customer (depending on the brand’s content, of course!)
  • Online shopping will have a big change if virtual and augmented reality were to work together – whether you’re looking at the fit of a pair of jeans or a new desk in your office, being able to visualise these things in their 3D form, in your desired location, will be revolutionary
  • Entertainment as we know it will change – not just video games, but films and sporting events too. Imagine sitting in your living room watching a basketball game with VR. You’re sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden, and didn’t even need to leave the comfort of your home (although, I’ll still argue that live events will ALWAYS be better)
  • Geographic location will become irrelevant! While working from home is becoming increasingly more common with the help of programs like Skype and Google Hangouts, the addition of VR will allow you to appear in the same place as your ’would-be’ desk, even if you’re hundreds of kilometres away.

These are just some of the industries we’ve discussed! The changes that virtual reality has the potential to make are unimaginable, as the devices become more accessible to lower-income earners, and businesses begin adopting training technologies and experiencing the technology first-hand, the opportunities really are endless.

 

 

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