Virtual reality (VR) technology has seen significant advances in its development across the last decade. VR immerses users into alternative realities and enables them to interact, to varying degrees, with their new surroundings through the use of hardware such as headsets, gloves, treadmills and motion sensor equipment. It is even possible to interact with other real-time users within shared virtual spaces.
The VR gaming market is predicted to exceed over $45 billion by 2025 according to recent research, with uptake by industry leaders such as Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp., and Nintendo Co. Ltd driving growth.
With all the growing hype for VR gaming, it is easy to overlook the many other uses for VR. Check out these innovative alternative uses for augmented reality technology.
VR for physio
Virtual reality is now becoming commonplace in the treatment of medical conditions. Physiotherapy patients are now able to use VR to practice day to day tasks in a virtual world that would otherwise be unachievable and demoralizing.
There is significant scientific evidence to support the use of VR for rehabilitation treatment. Users can complete tasks tailored towards their specific needs (that they may not be able to otherwise accomplish), in a fun and engaging environment designed to boost motivation and encourage continual practice. Despite the virtual nature, being able to carry out these tasks in full can feel like a success for the user and aid in their physical and mental recovery.
VR for mental health conditions
With VR being so deeply immersive, it is no surprise that the technology has been adopted to treat conditions of the mind. VR can provide multi-sensory environments designed to help users to regulate their emotions and relax. This has been used to help support those struggling with heightened levels of stress and anxiety. It has also been introduced into medical practices for the purpose of providing calming distraction while receiving uncomfortable treatments.
In addition to the calming nature of VR for anxiety, it can also be used to provide a safe space for patient exposure. Exposure therapy is used for the treatment of phobias, this is not always easy or safe to achieve in reality, take the fear of being trapped for example. However, VR can simulate a situation that exposes the user to stimuli in a controlled environment. C2Care offer customizable software that allows the user to manage the intensity of their exposure through altering the stimuli, and even allows a virtual interaction with the therapist through conversing between avatars.
VR for learning and development
Virtual reality can also be used to educate, and this is not just limited to academic learning, but imparting knowledge on a much broader scale:
VR can be used to teach a wide range of subjects. Toyota used VR technology to educate teens on road safety with their TeenDrive365 simulator. Neurosurgical simulation has been used to help train surgeons to carry out complex medical procedures. Even NASA have used the technology to demonstrate what astronauts witness when leaving the atmosphere.
Not only can VR transport you to alternate realities but it can also bring reality to you. Virtual reality tours for museums, music festivals and famous cultural landmarks mean that those with limited mobility, or from overseas, can now share in these experiences remotely. They are so widely available that a basic headset and a smart phone can transport you to an array of destinations worldwide.
Technology is also being used widely in business, from marketing, retail and even manufacturing. Ford used VR technology from Oculus Rift to revolutionize vehicle development processes that enabled them to visualize their vehicles before even producing them!
Not just a game
Whilst VR gaming is incredibly popular and enjoyable. There are so many alternative uses that are revolutionizing the way we live our everyday lives. With considerable market growth expected in the coming years for VR technology, who knows what this exciting new reality will look like.