What is VR and how will it impact your life?

07/09/2019     Author: Armand Richardson

What is VR? We break it down in layman’s terms for you and delve into the implications it will have on future society.

What is virtual reality?

To understand this concept, simply break down the words virtual and reality. Virtual being computer generated and reality being a simulated environment. The most common form of VR can be seen through homosapiens use of ridiculous looking headsets to get their visual, virtual fix.

The headset acts as the gateway to realities that are essentially limitless, and any good VR experience should stimulate as many senses as possible, including sight, sound, touch and even smell if you’re lucky.

When wearing such illustrious gear on our craniums, we are thrust entirely into a simulated world that can be developed and altered with code, even allowing us to interact with it. These worlds are fully immersive, meaning as you turn your head, your environment changes with it, allowing you to see in full 360 degrees.

The technology

The most recognizable component for VR is the head mounted display you’ve probably seen before. VR also exists as projections onto giant room sized screens (CAVE), but this is better suited to communal experiences in universities and such.

Headsets are the real future of VR however, as they allow for superior visualization and interaction with the world inside. In VR, sound is extremely important. By nature, we react to audio cues far quicker than visual. Accurate and spatial sounds are necessary for creating an entirely immersive and more realistic simulated experience.

There are a few big players in the game right now developing ever better headsets for the virtual experience. HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and Samsung Gear VR are to name a few. Then there’s the incredible Microsoft HoloLens 2 which as released last month, although it technically lends itself to AR.

VRs impact on our future

Virtual reality and augmented reality are set to radically change the way we operate as a species. I like to think of this as part of what I call the ‘Stick Tech’ principle. Ever since primitive man reached for the high hanging fruit with a stick, it became a tool (technology) to extend his reach. The stick technology becomes an extension of himself. This extension using technology, our second skin if you will, is an inevitable part of our evolution.

Humans evolve with technology. We use it to augment our lives and reality. VR and AR are inevitable yet inexplicably important parts of this evolutionary stepping stone towards a species merged with artificial technology.

Some of the ways VR will impact and improve our lives.

Medicine

Surgeons and doctors being able to use VR to identify illness and practice on a virtual patient would drastically improve skills and cut down training costs.

Gaming

The most obvious realm for this technology to dominate in is virtual reality gaming. We play games to escape for the most part, and VR would enhance this sense of escapism to new heights. I fact it already is.

Advertising

When marketing and advertising products, corporations will take any avenue possible to place their product right in front of your face. It makes sense to start eventually mass promoting through VR, the most immersive computer-generated experience there is. As long as they’re not too intrusive, and we have access to some sort of VR AdBlocker in future, this is something we’ll just have to live with.

Online dating

It sounds weird I know, but virtual chatrooms are not that bad. Granted they need a lot of improvement, but just as Tinder allows you to meet people from all over the globe in a matter of swipes, virtual dating could be an even richer experience. As avatars become more realistic, you could essentially spend quality time getting to know your match in a virtual space before you meet them for real. Play games, go to the cinema, frolic in fields of virtual pansies. The headset is your oyster.

As virtual reality systems advance, our knowledge and understanding of the world should grow with it. VR is another way to access information. To learn and enhance our understanding of our place in the universe. One day, with the help of these innovative technologies there will be no question left unanswered. After all, magic is simply science we don’t understand yet.

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