Virtual Meets Reality

How would you like to visit Europe without leaving your house? Even though it sounds impossible, technology has advanced rapidly that it is capable to do that. It is called Virtual reality (VR) and it’s growing. Companies have developed a device that is able to access an alternate universe within their capabilities. As new technologies like this emerge, it tends to prove mankind a benefit. Virtual reality is beneficial for todays use and is being applied.

Enter the Realm (Credit: Freeman)

Education always seems to be impacted by technology. The idea of having virtual reality in the classrooms could prove to be helpful. Teleporting the kids into enjoyable education would help the public-school system innovate and improve. The conversion of traditional learning to more virtual learning would encourage children to be more proactive in class. Kids love technology and it hurts more to restrict it from class. With the proper infrastructure, kids will be access school programs to learn from a different perspective making it more enjoyable. Though, it does not need to be constantly used in classroom. “This enthusiasm kept the students motivated even through some of the less exciting parts of the program, such as making actual animal observations. We also saw this enthusiasm from the users of the first version of the system, and this augers well for using VR as an educational tool, since you have to get a student’s attention and get him excited before you can teach him anything” (Allison). Rather, the instructor can use this as an encouragement to children to learn on more dry subjects. Kids in college can benefit from this to. For example, future surgeons could practice operations or engineers can work on their projects. It would be a great implementation, plus it would make learning a lot more enjoyable.

Stats on Stats (Credit: Aaron Burch)

Although virtual reality seems great inside classrooms, it does have its drawbacks. It would be very expensive. These virtual reality systems need to be plugged up to systems. To think if every child in a classroom needs one would be unreal. Kids also becoming dependent on VRs can cause an issue. Educational institutions don’t want children to be reliant on these systems rather it be a more engaging way of learning. The last thing to hear is that kids cannot learn without VR programs. These are all things that can be regulated and worked on. Not every idea can be perfect.

VRs can play a huge role in the medical field, whether to emulate surgery or cure a sickness. The medical field is highly dependent on technology advancement, because the more advancement the more medical professionals can solve health issues. For example, posttraumatic stress disorder is a common issue with soldiers. The idea is that VR is can be a gateway for a cure for their disorders. “Consistent with these individual studies, a recent meta-analysis (Parsons & Rizzo, in press) found that VR exposure (VRE) therapy had significant effects on a variety of anxiety disorders” (Reger). Rather than visiting a therapist, using the VR they can recreate the moments they had while fighting in wars. This is helping them because the army soldiers are experiencing the same traumatic situation that is causing them harm. With getting exposure to this its helping them adjust and calm down their distress. It is amazing how technology can recreate a scene from especially for those who need help to cure their fears.

Exercise is also a great integration into the VR world. As technology advances, people are more dormant with activities. Virtual reality would be beneficial to those who are concerned with weight. VRs would help because the software doesn’t use the actual users body, rather the user would create their own personal avatar. Just the creation of an avatar would benefit a person with an eating disorder, because the character created by them would be to their liking. That’s difference between reality and virtual reality. For overweight people, VRs would be a great way to get up and exercise. It encourages movement which a lot of video games don’t encourage.

We think we are moving forward, but we aren’t (Credit: Erin Carstens)

The drawbacks of using VRs for weight issues is that it may cause an issue with the user’s identity. Nobody should give up on themselves for whatever issue. VR gives that user an option to escape this reality and enter another one. When creating an avatar for the simulation, the users have access to sex, weight, height, and more. It is basically creating another artificial being. The scenario that shouldn’t happen is that the user rejects their physical health to be pleased with their virtual body. There was a study conducted to determine what users would choose for their avatar. “All this suggests that the avatar should not only offer users a sense of self but also a sense of control. Both these could be achieved by allowing users to tailor their avatars to resemble themselves rather than to resemble others” (Waddell). The conclusion of this experiment was that those who created their avatar that reflects them in real-life is that they are more self-aware of their health rather than those who made opposite characters. The idea of the experiment was to see if students who were participating would be honest with themselves in virtual reality. Reality comes before virtual, so it should be focused on first.

Everybody loves to travel, but it comes for a pricy cost. What if there was a way to travel across the world to experience Europe? VRs are now making that possible without stepping out of the house. Thanks to this, the person can teleport into the environment of their choosing an experience it virtually. For example, if somebody wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty, they could just put on the headset. It is a great way to save money and while getting the field of view as it would be in real life. There are many places in the world to visit, but due to limitations many people do not get the opportunity to experience this. That’s where virtual reality would step in to help the average travelers experience places they wouldn’t have never thought to have gone. “It can be especially valuable for destinations that may not have a top-tier attraction with a lot of name recognition, but has great natural cultural attractions that can give travelers confidence that this is the place to go,” (Graham). For example, lots of people don’t think of Africa as a beautiful place to visit. It would be expensive to fly there and pay for amenities. Just plug in the VR set and teleport do Africa’s beauties. One of the greatest things about using VRs is that you can share the experience with others in the household. Family members no longer just look at the photos experienced at the vacation, rather they are in the same world enjoying. Truly a great way to spread tourism in areas where it lacks. It’s a win-win situation because the user gets to enjoy the experience, while the attraction gets attention.

Beach without the warmth (Credit: AmberPacificStudios)

This topic of tourism in virtual reality can be controversial to some people. People will not just accept virtual reality as a replacement of tourism. The idea of traveling has its own meaning, depending on the person. For some it is just to visit the popular structures, while for others they want to experience the whole aspect of life at that location. Part of traveling is the flight, hotel, and food. With VR, you are not able to experience that. Like most traditional travelers, they want to feel the experience. For example, if somebody wanted to go to Venice, Italy. They want to feel the wind and touch the cool water while traveling in a boat. These are senses that cannot be simulated in VR. Seeing something in real life vs reality is something a person has to convince themselves. It is more memorable if a person is physically there while in VR, a person is at home. Lot of industries wouldn’t be too affected by this because lots of people like to physically travel. Industries like flight, hotels, and restaurants will always succeed. Overall, it depends on what the traveler’s motives are. If they are just trying to see some artifacts, then VRs are the more better approach. If they want to experience life and environment with their own two eyes, then book those tickets. The VR option is always available if vacation is too expensive.

Gaming is the one of the hottest industries where VR is taking over. Large companies like Facebook, HTC, and Sony have invested millions into this technology. They see the future of these devices and how much it is going to affect the consumer market. The gaming market has been a work in progress for years. With every new release of new systems, the question is what is new? From a simple two-button controller playing on a thick 240p tv, to now playing on 55-inch 4k TVs with their 17 button controllers. The gaming industry always must innovate to get consumer excited for their next releases. That is what VR gaming is exactly doing. The users are not just staring at a tv, not they are integrated into the TV and playing the character. Newer consoles and PCs have started to be VR ready, meaning it is just a plug and play setup. One of the more popular genres of gaming if first person shooters (FPS). What VR has done is make it seem like a person is holding a gun and shooting it. “I like to give people about 15 minutes when they come out of it (VR),” Davies said. “They’re thrilled with the experience and they see where it is going, but then it takes some time for them to realize how it is going to change the world. And that’s what’s fun (Frum). That experience is what every gamer wants, to have that nostalgic feelings. Gaming isn’t going anywhere and VR is the next step forward to the innovate the field.

Freeze, put your hands up!!!! (Credit: Tested)

Virtual reality spreading throughout the gaming world sounds great, but it does come with risk others might care about. For example, playing FPS games on console is ok because the users are using controllers. With VRs, the user is holding the weapon making more realistic. The harm comes here when a young child or someone with a mental issue starts playing this. Even though it is not gaming fault for violence, it could contribute in fueling that fire. VR gives that experience that no other system has given yet. At some point, maybe the user would want to hold a gun in real life and shoot it. It not like the person is going to go on a killing massacre, as in it will encourage access to weapons unnecessarily needed. The same could go with racing games, with a teenager learning to drive. Again, video games give the user freedom to do anything in that game without any real-life punishment. Racing games become into crashing, speeding, and running over pedestrian games. Lots of gamers have a sense of reality vs virtual, but there is never a guarantee that everyone is sane.

Everybody loves getting a new car, but VR has introduced a way in getting a new experience of deciding in getting a new car. Major automotive companies have integrated VR technologies in showing off their car models. Buyers dive into this world and able to see the interior and exterior of the vehicle of their choosing. From there, they can customize paint, materials, and features. This is fantastic because now the car buyer is more engaged with the vehicle and can see if this car is the right fit. The VR headset is helpful for those who are looking to buy cars that aren’t even at the dealership, meaning the dealerships have not received the new models. The consumer can see the vehicle, while the vehicle is not physically at the dealership. What’s great is that some companies are using VRs to spread awareness for safety on the road. “This year Toyota used virtual reality as part of its TeenDrive365 campaign to educate teenagers and parents about distracted driving. The distracted driving simulator included sensors that translated what the user was doing with the pedals or steering wheel into the simulation, and included built-in distractions like a ringing cellphone and chatty friends in the backseat” (Carson). Every dealership should have some sort of safety VR demo to ensure buyers are in good hands when they purchase the vehicle. VRs making the car buying process a lot more interactive.

We love and support our American troops who are protecting us from threats.What can technology do to help these heroes be more prepared. Thanks to VRs, our soldiers can emulate scenarios that would be able to help them out in the field. The idea is that the soldier knows that the simulation doesn’t give you the real-life experience, rather it is helpful to help see what situations can turn into. It is all about making it seem like the soldier is in the real battlefield, so the powerful VRs used help the simulation look life like. One goal the military is trying to bring to VRs is the ability to receive touch feedback from the simulation. “Buhl says bringing haptics to large-scale, collective training environments the Army is building will require significantly more work — enough that it’s not yet clear if the payoff will be equal to the effort” (Witcher). This idea has not been added to the VRs yet and it is still a developing technology. There is still no guarantee that adding this feature would benefit the soldiers but it is worth the shot. The more realistic training out troops get, the more prepared they are mentally for the real battle.

America is always prepared (Credit: VRLife)

Neil Armstrong was a lucky man to experience going into space and to be able to walk on different place than Earth. Virtual reality has made it possible to teleport to outer space with without spending billions on rockets. Every person is curious what about our universe, with VRs you can teleport to the moon, sun, mars, and more. Space is no boring subject and finding those who would like to experience it is by mean in no shortage. It isn’t just good for the average person who wants to see what outer space is like, but it is great again for training. Our nation sends astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) to perform projects. VRs have made a huge impact on this industry, because the amount of virtual training needed is immense. There is no way to train in space and come back when it’s done. What is nice is that the trainees are able to simulate every possibility that could happen to them in space. “VR is a useful tool for better understanding the scope of a spacewalk, for instance. It gives astronauts a sense of how far apart segments are going to be on the outside of the station, as well as how they’ll need to grip handrails or twist their arms to properly scale the ISS modules” (Grush). For example, if the astronaut gets disconnected to the ISS and float away. They would have the ability to experience that be able to recover just in case that were to happen. One key practice the VRs help astronauts perform is spacewalk. These people are going to working outside of the ISS expanding and repairing it. Walking with two feet is not practical with space, because of no gravity it is likely the astronauts will be maneuvering differently. Virtual reality has its place in space category.

Somethings you can’t experience in this world (Credit: Julia Beck)

Virtual reality has marked its territory in today’s time. Smart businesses have invested lots of money in perfecting this technology. An experienced seller of VR systems says about VRs improving today’s society, “Yes definitely, we are in a stage of evolving for technology. This device is amazing for that evolution. It gives that experience you want to get but it isn’t real. It’s crazy how real this simulation looks and I can see how companies in the future can go above and beyond in getting this into other fields that need it” (Sharma). VRs will someday be cheap enough for all Americans to have in their household and to be able to experience whatever wish as real as possible. Whether it’s the automotive, gaming, military, space, education, health or other fields that are already using these devices. There is a reason why they are growing, so people should participate and educate themselves on these devices. Technology is moving faster than ever, don’t get left behind. Don’t be quick to judge, try and decide.

Citations:

Stein, Scott. “The dangers of virtual reality.” CNET, 29 Mar. 2016, www.cnet.com/news/the-dangers-of-virtual-reality/.

Reger, Greg M., and Gregory A. Gahm. “Virtual reality exposure therapy for active duty soldiers.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company, 8 July 2008, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jclp.20512/full

Allison, Don, and Larry F Hodges. “Virtual reality for education?” ACM Digital Library, ACM, dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=502420.

Riva, Giuseppe & Gutiérrez-Maldonado, José & Wiederhold, Brenda. (2016). Virtual Worlds versus Real Body: Virtual Reality Meets Eating and Weight Disorders. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. 19. 63–66. 10.1089/cyber.2016.29025.gri.

Frum, Larry. “Virtual reality: The next frontier in gaming.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 June 2014, www.cnn.com/2014/06/16/tech/gaming-gadgets/virtual-reality-e3/index.html.

Graham, Luke, and special to CNBC.com. “VR devices could transform tourism.” CNBC, CNBC, 8 Jan. 2016, www.cnbc.com/2016/01/08/virtual-reality-devices-could-transform-the-tourism-experience.html.

Carson, Erin. “9 industries using virtual reality.” TechRepublic, 10 Mar. 2015, www.techrepublic.com/article/9-industries-using-virtual-reality/.

Witcher, T.R. “Virtual Reality Games Fuel a Military Training Revolution.” GovTechWorks, 14 Mar. 2017, www.govtechworks.com/virtual-reality-games-fuel-a-military-training-revolution/#gs.vQUVIhg.

Grush, Loren. “Walking through space in NASA’s Virtual Reality Lab.” The Verge, The Verge, 22 Aug. 2017, www.theverge.com/2017/8/22/16178138/nasa-virtual-reality-lab-mars-rover-simulator.

Sharma, Karan, Personal Interview, 10 October, 2017

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