VR’s new mainstream identity was fueled mostly by its most fervent early adopters – Gamers. While they may be the biggest evangelizers right now, the technology has virtually limitless potential in a number of other fields and industries.
In the near future, VR will enable you to render your own personal movie theater or concert hall wherever you want, whenever you want. A company called Live Like VR has already built a virtual Stadium that allows you to watch your favorite team from the stands. Bands like Coldplay and Best Coats have already streamed VR concerts. And late last year, the world’s first virtual reality movie theatre opened in Amsterdam.
Medical institutions have been using CGI and virtual simulation for diagnosis and treatment for years now and they’re only going to get more immersive. Software companies Surgical theater and Conquer Mobile use images from CAT scans or ultrasounds to build 3D models of a patient’s anatomy. A company called MindMaze to has created an immersive virtual-reality therapy for stroke and brain injury victims to regain motor and cognitive functions.
Virtual reality is giving agencies like NASA and ESA unprecedented control over technology traveling beyond earth. NASA researchers have already used an Oculus Rift with motion sensor from the Kinetic 2 and Xbox One game console to control a robotic arm with the operator’s gestures. The space agency is also using immersive Mars simulations to prepare astronauts to visit the planet. At CES this year, they even used VR to let people experience how it feels to be on board various spacecrafts.
VR companies are already teaming up with museums and art galleries around the world to open their (virtual) doors to brand new audiences that would never otherwise experience them. Disney recently partnered with the Salvador Dali museum in St. Partnered, Florida to transport visitors INTO a Dali painting to experience it like never before. The American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Museum, and the British Museum in London are now all Virtually accessible as well.
Car manufacturers have been using VR tech for years, from the design process to virtual prototypes and lately in their marketing strategies. At its Immersion Lab, Ford employees utilize Oculus Rifts to inspect a virtual car’s interior and exterior to spot potential problems before the car is built. BMW, Audi, Porsche, KIA, Volkswagen, Lexus, Chevrolet, and Honda have all incorporated VR and augmented reality experiences into their showrooms.
Virtual reality will proliferate education like never before. Earlier this year, a company called EON Reality launched the world’s first virtual reality Library. School districts in San Francisco and Florida are using Nearpod VR’s lesson plans to send classes on over 25 virtual field trips around the world. Microsoft’s MinecraftEdu, a modified version of the game which teaches various subjects, is now being used in 7,000 classrooms in over 40 countries.
7. Law & Politics
Virtual reality is also changing our legal process. In 2014, University of Zurich researchers examined the potential use of Oculus Rift in reconstructing events and crime scenes discussed during trials . They found that it was easier for people to understand the details of a case with the use of interactive technology. Jurors can now visualize a crime scene in 3D and see how people and objects move in space, instead of just looking at photos.
8. Mental Health
According to research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, an impressive meditation experience with a VR headset can reduce stress and anxiety, VR is being explored as a therapeutic tool for panic disorders or phobias, as the tech could provide a safe environment for people to face their fears. A 2014 study found that VR exposure therapy produced encouraging results for war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Virtual reality is also poised to transform online shopping. VR shopping apps like Ratale and Trillenium provide a Virtual tour of an entire store, making shopping a real-time experience you can experience with friends from around the world. Trillenium has partnered with ASOS, Europe’s biggest online retailers, to enable shoppers to purchase items through ASOS with the use of VR headsets.
The military has adopted VR technology to train and prepare soldiers and enhance their operational capabilities before they are deployed. Military uses of VR include flight simulation, battlefield simulation medic training in the battlefield, vehicle simulation and virtual boot camp. The major advantages of VR technology in these cases are time and cost savings, not to mention the ability to create dangerous scenarios without exposing trainees to real physical harm.