How virtual reality is changing the way we see the world (literally)

Virtual reality is often used as a vehicle for entertainment. But the technology is capable of much more — from immersive education to mental health therapy. Here’s a look at the newest developments.

How virtual reality is changing the way we see the world (literally)
VR Headset in Focus by Martin Sanchez (via Unsplash)
  • What can you use a virtual reality headset for? Along with movies and games, you can view live events, get a feed from your drone, and browse virtual showrooms.
  • Does virtual reality make you feel sick? For a minority of wearers, VR does cause queasiness. It is essentially a form of seasickness.
  • What are the big trends in virtual reality? Expect the tech to be used more in education and teaching. In addition, VR will be used for connecting with other people around the world.

Like hoverboards and self-driving cars, the dream of virtual reality has come true. These inventions are iconic, having been ripped from the pages of science fiction. In some cases, such devices are more about technical achievement and nostalgia than pragmatic benefits. But in the case of virtual reality, the technology is already having a significant impact on the way we see the world.

How is virtual reality used outside gaming?

Back in 2017, musician Roman Rappak and his band Miro Shot took the concert experience to the next level. They performed live to an audience wearing VR headsets, who watched avatars of the band flying through the air before encountering a giant head.

It seems pretty certain that everyone in that crowd will remember the eight-minute show. But such immersive experiences can have an even more powerful psychological effect outside the world of entertainment.

How virtual reality is changing the way we see the world (literally

Virtual reality can help to relieve anxiety

Anxiety, PTSD and other mental health problems can now be treated using VR technology. Patients can be given carefully controlled doses of whatever makes them feel uncomfortable — such as placing a claustrophobic individual inside a small virtual room. In turn, the patients become desensitized.

The technology can even be used proactively. By training in VR combat missions, soldiers can be battle-hardened before the first tour of duty.

How virtual reality is changing the way we see the world (literally)

Is this the future of social media?

At the opposite end of the scale from conflict, virtual reality allows us to connect with other people. From pre-election debates to international conferences, the technology is perfect for enabling personal interactions between people on different continents.

Given that Facebook owns Oculus, we expect the social niche to be the next big thing in VR tech.

Innovative headsets

The mind-blowing VR content mentioned above can only be enjoyed with the right hardware. Here are some of the best headsets around right now:

HTC Vive Focus Plus Standalone Enterprise VR System

Aimed at businesses, the Focus Plus offers six degrees of freedom. It comes with sensitive controllers that allow you to interact with digital objects.

Price: $1,059 USD

Daydream View VR Headset by Google

The Daydream View headset makes VR truly accessible. Powered by your smartphone, it is easy to use and surprisingly comfortable.

Price: $99 USD

Pimax 8K Virtual Reality Headset

When the aim is to immerse yourself in digital content, every pixel counts. The Pimax 8K lets you see every detail, with a remarkable resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels per eye.

Price: $899 USD

StarVR One VR Headset

With a 210-degree horizontal field of view, the StarVR One headset makes you feel like you’re really there. It also has full-color AMOLED displays.

Price: $3,200 USD, developer kit

Valve Index Ergonomically Designed VR Headset

With the ability to reach a frame rate of 144Hz, the Valve Index makes VR look as smooth as real life. It is comfortable too, thanks to a design that minimizes skin contact.

Price: $499 USD

Changing the world

How do you see VR changing the world? Tell us in the comments!

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Meet Mark Myerson

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic.

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