If you’ve been following virtual reality news at all, you already know that this technology is in the process of changing the way many industries work. For example, the world of gaming now has an entirely new way to dive into the action by allowing players to become part of the game. But virtual reality is not just changing gaming, the entertainment industry is also on the verge of a disruption. No longer will we only be watching a film, but we will be a part of it. Daylight’s End is an example of a theatrical and virtual reality release.
Education stands to benefit from virtual reality as well, allowing students to explore distant lands, and even the galaxy, just by wearing a headset. The Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus is a prime example. The combination of informative text and immersive imagery will enhance the entire learning experience.
Virtual reality lends itself to selling as well. Placing consumers into a different reality is sure to influence their decision much more than a boring old billboard or commercial. Check out VROOM, a company striving to reimagine the auto showroom.
These changes may seem obvious, but what else can virtual reality accomplish? Innovators around the world are discovering new ways this technology can benefit the world every single day. Here are some unexpected, exciting, inventive uses of virtual reality.
In the beginning, whoever thought that virtual reality would have health benefits? At the University of Southern California, these clinicians are using the technology to help treat post traumatic stress disorder. By recreating the source of the stress, in this case a battlefield scenario, those suffering from PTSD can slowly and effectively process their emotions through repeated exposure to the stimuli. They can control the situation, measure the stimuli, and record patients’ stress levels. Not only has this proven to help treat PTSD, but the tech allows clinicians to learn more about the brain and improve their ability to treat PTSD.
In addition to helping veterans overcome their stress, virtual reality can be used as way to reduce pain. At the University of Washington Seattle, doctors utilized the immersive tech to help lessen pain for burn victims. Because pain requires a patient’s conscious attention, virtual reality can distract a patient and the pain signals can be lessened or blocked. Instead of the pain they feel occupying the focus of their mind, they delve deeper into the virtual world.
Anyone who has ever stayed in a hospital for an extended period of time will tell you that it is not exactly an enjoyable experience. The room can feel sterile and unwelcome, and no one wants to be trapped in a bed for days, or even weeks. Cedars-Sinai is conducting research to discover the therapeutic benefits of virtual reality. They want to improve the overall hospital experience for patients by providing an escape from a boring hospital room, and help lead patients to an improved outcome.
We at 900lbs also created a ‘dreamlike journey’ for kids at the Cook Children’s Medical Center. By using virtual reality, and the HTC Vive, we took children to different places in the U.S. or allowed them to become a professional soccer player. In the soccer simulation game, kids were able to play the game as part of their physical therapy session. This type of physical therapy resulted in kids having a more successful therapy session as opposed to when they performed the routine exercises.
Not only can virtual reality help soldiers after returning from battle, but it can help prepare them before entering the field. Plextek, a UK electronics design company, uses VR to design military training simulations, specifically for medics. Soldiers can gain experience and prepare for war without actually placing themselves in any danger. While virtual reality cannot compare to the intensity of an actual battle, the vivid imagery from the alternate reality will definitely stick with the soldiers.
One of the downsides of being human is that we do not have unlimited stores of energy. When it comes to athletic training, that means that you have to rest sometime. But once again, here comes virtual reality to save the day. At Stanford University, STriVR Labs is working with the technology to create a virtual reality football practice. NFL teams, like the Dallas Cowboys, have already taken notice, and are utilizing the program to get more practice time without completely exhausting the athletes.
Unless you were born with nerves of steel, just about everyone has felt the anxiety and jitters before and during public speaking. Whether you are giving a presentation to a classroom, or are the keynote speaker at a convention, lots of people get sweaty hands, shaky legs, and jumpy nerves. What if there were a way to practice public speaking, without the actual public? Well, thanks to virtual reality, there is. If you substitute a real crowd or boardroom for a virtual one, with repeated exposure and practice, you can actually overcome some the anxiety and nervousness that comes with public speaking. Plus, it’s just a great way to practice your presentation.