Virtual reality (VR) has dominated tech headlines in recent years with its ability to immerse its users in a virtual, yet safe, world. Gaming is one of the more well-known VR uses but its potential doesn’t stop there. Some of the many questions people are curious about include: How does virtual reality benefit society? And what is virtual reality in multimedia?
We’re here to answer all your questions and introduce a few other ways VR technology can be applied across a range of fields:
1. VR in Military
The military in the UK and the US have both adopted the use of virtual reality in their training as it allows them to undertake a huge range of simulations. VR is used in all branches of service: the army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard. In a world where technology is adopted from an early age and children are accustomed to video games and computers, VR proves to be an effective method of training. VR can transport a trainee into a number of different situations, places and environments for a range of training purposes. The military uses it for flight simulations, battlefield simulations, medic training, vehicle simulations and virtual boot camp, among other things. VR is a completely immersive, visual and sound-based experience, which can safely replicate dangerous training situations to prepare and train soldiers, without putting them at risk until they are ready for combat. Likewise, it can also be used to teach soldiers some softer skills, including communication with local civilians or international counterparts when out in the field. Another of its uses includes treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for soldiers who have returned from combat and need help adjusting to normal life situations; this is known as Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET). A key benefit for using virtual reality technology in the military is the reduction in costs for training.
2. VR in Sport
VR is revolutionizing the sports industry for players, coaches and viewers. Virtual reality can be used by coaches and players to train more efficiently across a range of sports, as they are able to watch and experience certain situations repeatedly and can improve each time. Essentially, it’s used as a training aid to help measure athletic performance and analyze technique. Some say it can also be used to improve athletes’ cognitive abilities when injured, as it allows them to experience gameplay scenarios virtually. Similarly, VR has also been used to enhance the viewer’s experience of a sporting event. Broadcasters are now streaming live games in virtual reality and preparing to one day sell virtual tickets to live games so that anyone from anywhere in the world can ‘attend’ any sports event. Potentially, this could also allow for those who cannot afford to spend money on attending live sports events to feel included as they can enjoy the same experience remotely, either for free or at a lesser cost.
3. VR in Mental Health
As mentioned briefly before, VR technology has become a primary method for treating post-traumatic stress. Using VR exposure therapy, a person enters a re-enactment of a traumatic event in an attempt to come to terms with the event and heal. Likewise, it has also been used to treat anxiety, phobias and depression. For example, some patients with anxiety find meditating using VR to be an effective method to manage stress reactivity and boost coping mechanisms. Virtual reality technology can provide a safe environment for patients to come into contact with things they fear, whilst remaining in a controlled and safe environment. This is just one of the ways virtual reality can have a real positive impact on society.
4. VR in Medical Training
Due to its interactive nature, medical and dental students have begun using VR to practice surgeries and procedures, allowing for a consequence free learning environment; the risk of inflicting harm or making a mistake while practicing on real patients is eliminated. Virtual patients are used to allow students to develop skills which can later be applied in the real world. Using VR technology in the medical industry is an effective way to not only improve the quality of students in training but it also presents a great opportunity to optimise costs, especially since health services are continuously under pressure with tight budgets.
5. VR in Education
VR uses for education don’t stop at the military or medical field, but extend to schools with virtual reality also adopted in education for teaching and learning situations. Students are able to interact with each other and within a three-dimensional environment. They can also be taken on virtual field trips, for example, to museums, taking tours of the solar system and going back in time to different eras. Virtual reality can be particularly beneficial for students with special needs, such as autism. Research has found that VR can be a motivating platform to safely practice social skills for children, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Technology Company, Florio, has developed virtual reality scenarios that allow children to learn and practice skills such as pointing, making eye contact and building social connections. Parents can also follow along and interact by using a linked tablet.
6. VR in Fashion
A lesser known use of VR is in fashion where it has actually been having quite a profound impact. For example, virtual simulations of store environments can be extremely useful for retailers to design their signage and product displays without fully committing to the build like you would in the real world. In the same way, appropriate time and resources can be allocated for the build of the store layout. Some popular brands that have already begun implementing VR in their business include: Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and Gap. VR uses for these big names encompass offering a 360-degree experience of fashion shows and allowing customers to try on clothes virtually.