There’s no denying that VR has come a surprisingly long way over the past half century. The earliest virtual reality headset was invented in the mid 1960s by Ivan Sutherland. It earned itself the nickname “the sword of Damocles” due to its ungainly and somewhat terrifying appearance! Today’s VR headsets are much more user-friendly and the experience they can offer is considerably more sophisticated.
Sutherland’s original headset could only show a cube hanging in the air. Today’s VR headsets transport wearers to a host of exciting virtual environments where they can interact with others, play games in a realistic setting and even watch movies from within.
It’s no wonder, then, that experts are predicting that in the future we’ll probably all be spending a lot more time in a virtual world than in the real one. Some professionals within the industry have even suggested that using virtual reality will become as commonplace as using a smartphone within just two decades. Today, we’re still amazed by online experiences such as live dealer casino games which allow us to interact with other humans in real time thanks to the power of the internet. In the future, virtual casinos with live dealers will probably have become the norm, and it’s likely to happen much sooner than we could possibly imagine.
Untethered Virtual Experiences
At the moment, virtual reality is still virtually in its infancy. Until very recently, the highest-quality virtual experiences required an extremely powerful computer, however with the release of the Oculus Quest headset, all of that has changed. Now, VR headsets have the capability to be untethered, with no need for any physical connection to another device. This opens up the possibilities for a whole raft of new uses for virtual reality.
Amazing Graphics Quality
The graphics available in VR game titles today are pretty impressive, however they’re almost certainly far inferior to the experiences that we can expect to enjoy within the next few years. Developers are promising a lifelike level of graphics in the future that will make experiences virtually indistinguishable from those we could enjoy in real life.
The Arrival Of 5G
5G’s arrival has opened up a world of opportunity, pushing power consumption, processing power and storage away from computers into the cloud. This, in turn, opens up the possibility of using VR for many more purposes than are currently possible. Gaming is already the primary function of virtual reality headsets, however social gaming is now becoming more popular.
In Bristol, England, there is already a VR theatre and a number of events spaces nationwide have already hosted immersive VR theatre events. It’s expected that soon, social experiences in the virtual sphere will become commonplace, with users meeting new people who could live anywhere in the world. It will also allow families and existing friends to spend more time together in a range of virtual environments.
The Impact On Industries
The advances in VR technology in the near future will almost certainly have a major impact on many different industries. The healthcare industry looks set to benefit. Already, VR is being used as a distraction technique for some burns victims who are receiving treatment. It’s likely they will become more widespread as a mainstream tool for soothing patients.
For some time, virtual reality has showed potential as a tool for treating depression, phobias and PTSD. It’s likely that advances will allow those virtual experiences to become a commonplace form of treatment for those with mental health disorders.
As for training purposes, surgeons and healthcare professionals will be able to benefit from VR which will allow them to virtually operate on a patient without any risk.
NASA has already used virtual reality as a preparation tool for astronauts going into space to complete complex tasks, while the NYPD has included VR training within its programme to allow officers to learn the best ways of responding in active shooter emergencies. The possibilities of VR will almost certainly open up to a wide range of other high-risk sectors so that workers can practice the precise movements and skills that allow them to do their job properly without putting themselves or anyone else at risk.
VR In Education
Schools, colleges and educational institutions can benefit from virtual reality which will transform learning experiences into more engaging and fun lessons. Students will be able to participate in a virtual field trip to destinations which they couldn’t possibly visit in real life, and this will enable young people to learn in a wide range of ways.
An Increasingly Virtual Way Of Life
According to current statistics, the average person spends almost seven hours online each day. We spend the majority of that time reading emails, watching TV, playing games and browsing social media platforms. It’s highly likely that we’ll be doing those things virtually within the next twenty years. Yet, instead of being a way of isolating ourselves, virtual reality could actually be a way of doing things in a better way.
Studies have shown that people are able to accept that digital avatars in a virtual space are actually their own body. This means it becomes possible to have an experience within the virtual world that is indistinguishable from one that you would have in real life. This makes immersive and fun experiences even more engaging, and it can add extra adventure to sports games or intimacy to social virtual experiences.
Of course, this also means that more frightening or disturbing experiences in VR could feel distressingly real too, and this could have serious ramifications. Evidence shows that the emotional and physiological response to violence within the virtual world is strong. This means that care will need to be taken to manage that aspect of gaming in the future as the potential of VR becomes greater.
Virtual Reality Will Lead The Way
One thing is almost certain – virtual reality will be leading the way in the gaming sphere within the next few years. As headsets become more advanced they will become more mainstream and soon, more of us than ever before will be spending longer hours in a virtual world.