Virtual Reality technology is undergoing interesting stages of development. While some VR tech is available in the form of gaming headsets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and the Sony PlayStation VR, for the most part, developers have only scratched the surface of this tech sphere. Virtual Reality has some untapped potential that can be applied to different areas of society. Here are 7 fields that will be impacted by VR the most.
In the realm of cinema, audience members already have access to 3D movies, the closest thing you can get to an immersive movie experience. However, apps such as Oculus Cinema take the movie-going experience to another level through the VR headgear. The app allows users to watch movies on a huge virtual screen, making the user feel as if they’re sitting in their own personal cinema.
While the feeling of having your own home theatre is incredible, Oculus understands that most of the time, movie-going is not a solo activity. In August 2015, Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey told Road to VR during Gamescon 2015 that the company plans on expanding on the app by adding some multi-user features. Luckey is very excited for what the future holds.
“We already have a lot of internal social functions in Cinema that are going to be rolling out in the next few months… Things like avatar systems, being able to communicate with people over long distances rather than just local multiplayer.”
Are you a sports fan and who doesn’t want to leave the comfort of your home to sit in a crowded stadium? Then LiveLike VR has the app you need. According to Fortune, San Francisco-based startup LiveLike VR has created an app that puts users from all around the world in a virtual stadium to watch sports together.
“Sports is not about being ‘on the field’ for the whole game, it’s about being able to hang with your friends, doing stuff while there’s a two-minute timeout, seeing replays, stats, and more,” Andre Lorenceau, CEO and founder of LiveLike VR, said.
“We are also focused on infrastructure, with building the capabilities to connect with friends or strangers, multiple ‘channels’ to watch from, statistical interfaces. There’s a whole system that needs to be created before we watch sports in VR, and we’re getting close to finalizing that.”
The company has already done a demo with English soccer team Manchester City, which is playable on Samsung Gear VR. VR rights are classified under livestreaming, but Lorenceau believes that leagues will eventually sell separate VR broadcasting rights once the VR headsets take off.
Similar to watching sports or movies from your VR headset, watching virtual concerts are also in the works. NextVR, a VR company that has previously streamed boxing matches, a Democratic debate, and the Daytona 500, partnered with Live Nation in May, 2016 to bring live music acts to users worldwide. The first musical VR events have recently taken place.
The tourism industry has also hopped on the VR bandwagon. Marriott teamed up with Oculus in order to transport clients virtually to Hawaii and London in 90 seconds. Whether or not it can serve as a somewhat acceptable substitute for actual travel is up for debate, but VR tech is finding its way into all sorts of different places.
#5: Health Care
The health care industry is a huge supporter of incorporating VR tech into different areas of surgery and rehabilitation. Software developers like Surgical Theater and Conquer Mobile have developed virtual reality simulations in order to prepare teams of surgeons for an operation. Dr. Keerit Tauh, a surgeon at Surrey Memorial Hospital in Canada, approved of this particular method of training.
“The depth with your hands and the instrumentation with your hand felt quite natural,” Tauh said.
“The distance when I moved my hands felt like when I move my hand in real life, which was elegant and intriguing. You did get a somewhat realistic idea regarding your depth perception as well as regarding where to place instruments, what kind of depth the patient is away from you. It’s very cool.”
Beyond surgery, VR technology can also be used as a useful and engaging tool in physical therapy. Developers such as MindMaze have created apps that help patients recover from brain injuries, strokes, and spinal cord injuries. Through virtual exercises and real-time feedback, MindMaze is used to aid patients in practicing every day activities.
The way we read news stories may also change with the inclusion of VR technology in journalism. At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, a global event that showcases the best creative work in communications, advertising, and other related fields, VR tech made a big splash.
The New York Times teamed up with Google to create a VR app that fully immerses readers into the story. Through the usage Google’s low-cost VR viewer, Google Cardboard, readers are able to enter VR stories such as “The Displaced,” which tells the story of how 30 million children have been displaced from their homes due to war. When users enter the VR story, they are able to stand around and actually see the devastating effects of conflict, adding a new layer of immersion in storytelling.
#7: Real Estate
Similar to tourism, VR technology is also being incorporated into the real estate market by offering virtual tours for clients. Through the usage of 360-degree VR tech, headgear devices such as Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR can be used to give potential buyers and renters a fully immersive experience of whatever piece of real estate they are interested in – without having to leave their home. This can be beneficial for people who live in another country who are unable to physically be at the location for a tour.
Regardless of whatever application VR can be used for, the main idea is that the user is fully immersed in a world outside of our own. While VR tech is in various stages of development depending on the application, what matters is that it is still out there and available for users – who can afford it. Oculus Rift sells for $499, and the Vive is set at $799; both also require a powerful computer in order to work properly. This easily places the total price at around $1000 or more depending on which VR gear you get. But similar to how the earliest PCs were extremely expensive and considered unconventional, and now are a necessity in today’s world, perhaps virtual reality technology will follow a similar path.