If you thought Facebook’s recent $2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift (a company that creates virtual reality headsets) seemed like a bizarre move, think again. While Oculus Rift originally developed their headsets for the purpose of gaming, people are starting to see the potential of immersive technology for so much more.
Of course, Facebook isn’t alone in its virtual vision of the future. Google released its much-hyped Google Glass this year, allowing users to make their smartphone an extension of their vision. Sony is also investing in virtual reality technology with the development Sony Morpheus—a slick looking competitor to the Oculus Rift.
So what exactly are the applications that these tech giants see in this technology? The following are 6 ways virtual reality is changing the world.
Let’s start with the obvious one: gaming. Virtual reality obviously has the potential to provide a pretty amazing gaming experience beyond what we get from those oh-so-addictive Wii Sports games. Forget controlling a soldier creeping into battle in Call of Duty—virtual reality allows you to be the soldier. And we’re not just talking about seeing through the eyes of your character; accessory technologies like multi-directional treadmills even allow you to run around (without going headfirst into your drywall). Accessories like gloves and vests could make the experience even more life-like by allowing you to feel what your character feels.
If you’re of the mindset that games in this format would simply be nausea-inducing, it doesn’t look like that will be the case. Early game testers of Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus seem to have positive outlooks and note that you can’t bash the technology until you try it. You really have to see it to believe it.
Aside from giving teenagers the rush of getting caught in the crossfire of virtual enemy troops, there are some very real military applications for virtual reality. The American military is already working with virtual reality for some of their training. Before virtual reality, combat situations were simply too difficult—or even dangerous—to recreate with accuracy. New technology like the Dismounted Soldier Training System (DSTS) uses virtual reality headsets to better prepare soldiers for real combat through simulated situations. Since soldiers are often trained far from the place of combat, the technology also allows different terrain to be simulated. By better preparing soldiers, this technology could literally save lives.
Virtual reality has the potential to provide a wide range of therapeutic benefits to those with mental health issues. One interesting application is the treatment of what is known as phantom pain suffered by those who have lost limbs. Many amputee victims experience this phenomenon, which causes them to feel pain radiating from a body part that is no longer there. By allowing phantom pain sufferers to visualize themselves using their lost limb, virtual reality treatment has been shown to provide relief in an engaging way.
Okay, here’s a weird one: virtual reality has even been proposed to improve the lives of farm animals. A project from Iowa State University professor Austin Stewart looked at the idea of using virtual reality goggles on chickens. By projecting images of green pastures to chickens, they would have the perception that they’re free-range, even if in reality they’re restricted to an indoor pen. As ridiculous as this sounds (and looks) it’s so crazy that it just might work. Forget the chickens though—we could use this at the office!
Here’s something you never want to hear your surgeon say: I’ve never done this one before! As with military training, there are some things a medical student simply cannot learn without being placed in a real environment. As everyone knows, practice makes perfect, and with virtual reality, simulations can be developed to train surgeons for complex surgery before performing on a live patient where the stakes are high.
With the advancement of audio-visual technology, even events are taking inspiration from virtual reality. Multi display technology allows event organizers to dazzle their guests with impactful presentations that take them on a journey.
Freeman Audio Visual’s own ImaginAction technology uses wide, multi-screen displays to encompass the peripheral vision of audiences and immerse them in presentations. Rich, extreme-resolution images add to the impact and sense of interactivity.
If you’re as fascinated by immersive technology as we are, why not use it at your next event? Contact us today to discuss how Freeman Audio Visual can make ImaginAction work for you!