You’re soaring in the sky as a golden eagle. Strapped into mechanical wings, you experience the true bird-eye-view of New York City.
For all intents and purposes, virtual reality is booming in its current arena of possibilities. It has so far been seen as trips after trips into another world where many things are possible with no consequences. VR currently has its fingers in so many pies that it is impossible to determine its future. The University of British Columbia in Vancouver is experimenting with virtual lecture halls. In the Allianz stadium in Turin, Italy, Juventus fans can use VR headsets to play a mini soccer game with the Juve team.
There are, however, more productive uses of VR in unexpected fields. In China, drug rehabilitation clinics are using VR software to show addicts the graphic physical and mental harm drugs can cause. Similarly, VR software can be reclaimed to ease patient pain and anxiety during surgical procedures, and mental health facilities employ VR to assist mental health patients with recovery.
Are there no limits to what we can achieve with future VR technology? Though VR has the ability to connect people across continents and express powerful, emotional experiences in more-immersive ways than ever before, those bulky headsets simply aren't going to immerse entire communities of people in the same way laptops or phones have.
Except for Samsung — which uses mobile phones — VR experiences also require a motley of high-end equipment. VR lacks elegance, and this factor likely keeps out major technology manufacturers such as Apple from pursuing it yet. Accessibility of VR is important to negotiate if fields other than gaming and entertainment are to employ it in the future.
One thing’s for certain: VR will change how we see the world and how we learn. In taking people to places they’ve never been before, VR reconciles visual, tactile and auditory learners alike. If we’re ambitious, we can even begin catering to the rest of the senses — temperature, smells, tastes — and truly revamp the virtual experience.