Over the past decade, virtual reality (VR) has transformed from a fictional pair of spectacles in a 1930s sci-fi novel to an exciting disruptor in the gaming industry.
Statista reveals that there are currently 171 million VR users worldwide — and gaming is only the beginning. VR is expected to transform the way the world functions, opening the door to many new exciting experiences. That being said, here are four ways VR will change the world.
1. Social Networking Interactions Will Feel More Personal
Instead of contacting others through a phone call or a text message, many people choose to use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp. By using these platforms, not only can they reach others more efficiently, but also they can connect with people from all parts of the world.
Facebook, which is arguably the biggest one of them all, continues to change the communication landscape, as they stepped into the world of VR by creating Facebook Spaces in 2017.
This is a VR version of the social network, which incorporates the use of Oculus VR goggles to bring Facebook users into a digital world where they can communicate with each other and even take VR selfies with their friends in real-time.
More recently, Bloomberg’s Kurt Wagner reports that the company is debuting a new VR project with a much more realistic digital environment called Facebook Horizon. Here, chatting with your Facebook friends will be more personal, as VR avatars get to explore Horizon’s different worlds through its portals or “telepods.”
2. Gaming Experiences Will Be Elevated
VR has already touched major games, offering a whole new experience for gamers. For example, major video game console brand Sony has delved into the world of VR by developing the PlayStation VR (PSVR) gaming system, with over 4 million PSVR headsets sold just last March.
Additionally, HP’s resident tech enthusiast Dwight Pavlovic’s article on ‘The Many Immersive Experiences of AR and VR explains that games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4 have been given a VR revamp, letting players see the vast world of Tamriel and futuristic Boston, respectively, in a new light.
These immersive and interactive changes are taking gaming to a whole new level. And VR isn’t stopping there, as it is poised to give players a new take on different worlds as well as the gameplay itself. For instance, Oculus’ Touch Controllers can now track fingers, which allows a user to touch and feel objects when they play.
3. VR Will Provide Support to Mental Health Treatment
With conversations about mental health becoming more and more common, it’s imperative to not only bring awareness to this issue but also find actionable solutions. This is especially urgent, as the Mental Health Foundation states that one-fifth of the UK population aged 16 and older display symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Thankfully, VR is an innovative solution for treating anxiety and other common mental health issues. The BBC reveals that a VR programme developed by a clinical psychologist Daniel Freeman has been designed to help attend to different mental health ailments. For instance, one such function aims to help people conquer their phobia of heights by having patients face their fears headfirst by virtually standing on top of a high building — without the real-life risks.
4. The Health Sector Will Evolve
VR is also helping the wider health sector make important strides. In fact, the first surgery that was broadcasted live through VR occurred in the Royal London Hospital, which showed an operation on an elderly British man with colon cancer. Medical students wore VR headsets so that they could watch the surgery and learn more about the procedure.
And the Royal London Hospital continues to push the envelope by using VR, as their neurosurgeons released a pioneering 360-VR film that features a surgery of a patient who is being treated for life-threatening brain aneurysms. Through VR, healthcare professionals can develop new treatments to treat hospital patients, and also train students and staff.