Conversation about virtual reality has long been confined to the realms of gaming and entertainment, and for good reason. It is quickly and radically reshaping the way we play. But it would be a disservice to the technology to ignore the potential for virtual reality to transform our lives in much bigger ways. We’re taking education, tourism, construction, research, and even government. The most ambitious innovators in the space didn’t view as an escape from reality, but rather a tool to make a reality better, safe, and more equalizing on a global scale. Let’s meet a few of them.
1. Virtual Reality Cities
Hypatia by Timefire Media
It is perhaps the ultimate fantasy of VR enthusiasts – a bustling virtual city where you can live, work, and play without the struggles and demands of the real world. Timefire is one of the first companies to tackle this challenge with Hypatia, Virtual utopia that allows players to read virtual books, use virtual smartphones, create virtual art, engage in virtual outdoor activities, and even go to virtual School. It’s developer hope to use the project as a springboard for virtual reality college campuses. Hypatia plans to incorporate later this year.
2. Virtual Reality Social Networking
vTime by Starship Group
It was only a matter of time before virtual reality social networking to hold, and its first iteration will probably feel familiar to Second Life enthusiasts. vTime allows you to meet up with friends from around the world in one of a dozen virtual locations. You can design your own avatar from head to toe, join friends in chat rooms, or have the system where you’re up with random users chatroulette style there is even a selfie taking feature the social network is not available for Samsung Gear VR and Google cardboard.
3. Virtual Reality Tours
Chernobyl VR by The Farm 51
Virtual reality allows us to travel anywhere in the world, of the universe for that matter, in an instant. That includes places that have been perilous to human beings for three decades. Chernobyl VR is a virtual reality documentary experience that allows viewers to visit the epicenter of the worst nuclear catastrophe in history. You’ll be able to explore Chernobyl and the nearby town of Pripyat on foot beginning April 16, 2016, the 30th anniversary of the accident.
4. Virtual Reality Libraries
EON experience AVR by EON Reality
One of the most transformative application for virtual reality is education, and the global proliferation of knowledge. Companies like EON Reality have been innovating the space for 15 years, but it wasn’t until the release of affordable headsets like Google Cardboard that moonshots like a virtual library could come to life. EON Experience VR is a personalized learning library that uses gamified AR and VR elements to engage students on a variety of subjects. It launched on March 16, 2016.
5. Virtual Reality Cinemas
The virtual reality cinema by &samhoud Media
The world’s first virtual reality pop-up cinema aims to make VR experience more accessible to the general populace. Located in Amsterdam, the theater provides guests with Samsung Gear VR headsets, sennheiser headphones, and custom made 360 degree turning chairs, all for just €12.50. The cinema plans to tour Europe this year, with stops Germany and Switzerland already planned. We can expect many more to pop up this year, with virtual reality arcades not far behind.
6. Virtual Reality Research
by Transport Systems Catapult
In the United Kingdom, the government is beginning to use virtual reality to test out scenarios involving next generation transportation technologies. The virtualisation Laboratory is basically a research facility, were a 20-foot omnidirectional treadmill called an Omnideck6 is set up for participants to walk, run, crawl, and jump around virtual environments together with an Oculus rift. Researchers can then gather data on how people react to think like driverless cars at an intersection.
7. Virtual Reality Architecture
Iris by IrisVR
Imagine being able to virtually build skyscraper that can be explored before a contract is signed to construct it? Companies like IrisVR are using virtual reality to take 3D modelling to a new level. Their software will convert any 3D file into a workable VR environment that allows architects and engineers to get an immersive look at newly designed spaces. Iris works with both HTC Vive and oculus Rift.