Here are just a few of the ways virtual reality is being used or could be used in the near future:
Go anywhere in the world (or solar system)
One of the most logical applications for a technology that virtually take you anywhere is the tourism industry. You can already visit locations and have experiences that you may never have the chance to do in real life – such as hike to the top of Mount Everest or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef – via VR apps such as Everest VR, Google Earth VR, and theBlu. Or even better, explore out-of-this-world destinations like Mars through apps like Access Mars that put you on the surface of the red planet thanks to footage provided by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Travel companies have also begun experimenting with virtual tours that will let you visit destinations, landmarks, hotels, and resorts prior to booking to ensure your trip will be exactly how you envision it. Personally, I can’t wait until I can come home after a long day at work and spend a couple hours relaxing on a tropical beach.
Experiential learning for students
Imagine a day when you ask your kids what they did at school that day and they respond with, “we visited ancient Rome,” or “we sailed on the Titanic.” In the near future, virtual reality will enable teachers to turn every day at school into an episode of The Magic Schoolbus. Apps like Google Expeditions and Unimersive already provide experiences just like these and more. Other educational companies are working on virtual classrooms that let online students meet and interact to work on collaborative projects.
Get the best seat in any house
Virtual reality will change the way we consume sports and live entertainment just as television did when it was introduced. The NBA and the NFL have already partnered with VR companies to give fans unprecedented access to their favorite teams. Using a VR app like NBA VR a user can choose to view the game from any seat in the arena, choose to listen to any play-by-play broadcast available, and can even join friends virtually at the game and interact in real time. Next VR, which provides NBA VR, also offers music, comedy, boxing, and professional wrestling events in virtual reality.
Better prepared police and military
Virtual reality will be a game changer for the military, law enforcement, fire fighters, and other industries where people are being trained for dangerous situations. Virtual reality will allow trainees to fully immerse themselves in simulated scenarios that otherwise wouldn’t be possible without risk of injury. One company called VirTra offers law enforcement agencies training simulations for firearms, use of force, and de-escalation complete with realistic distractions such as dogs barking and street noise. This higher level of training will provide officers with better decision making in tense situations and hopefully save lives.
Virtual fitting rooms
I think we can all agree online shopping is awesome, but if there is one pain point with online shopping it has to be that you can’t try on the clothes before you purchase. That’s why the prospect of body scanning VR technology is so exciting. Body scanning would allow you to create a virtual avatar complete with your body’s specific measurements that could “try on” clothing items to see how they would look and fit on you in real life. Other retailers are also looking to VR to enhance the shopping experience. For example, IKEA has a virtual tour of their store available that allows you to add items to your online shopping cart.
Although virtual reality is still a young technology, it’s easy to see how it’s poised to influence the way many industries conduct business and how we, as people, interact with the world.