Since its introduction in the late-20th century, virtual reality has come a long way. It has gotten smaller, lighter, and is now available for commercial use. Anyone with a VR headset can enjoy an immersive digital experience in virtually any kind of environment – which, naturally, leads to all sorts of fun and fascinating experiences.
Here’s what you can do with VR today:
Meditation & Therapy
We’ll mention some health-related functions first, to demonstrate right away that VR is more than what some perceive it to be. Finding your happy place, as it turns out, is easy with a VR headset; in just seconds, you can transport yourself to any number of immersive and soothing settings. This can mean the world for people with chronic anxiety or chronic pain. Medical researchers have in fact found VR settings to be helpful in relaxing and managing pain in patients. The immersive nature of VR applications serves as a distraction for people experiencing pain, which effectively reduces their perception of said pain (or anxiety).
Perhaps the biggest and most explored area of VR is entertainment, and this goes well beyond the basic video games that get most of the attention. You can use a VR headset to enjoy the ups, downs, and twists of a rollercoaster ride without actually boarding one; various experiences from the latest online casino sites developed all around the world are being adapted to VR. You can also virtually attend live sporting occasions, ride off-road vehicles, and view concerts, to name just a few more options. All in all, from advanced casinos, and thrill rides, to viewership options and everything in between, VR can rightly be said to be in the process of revolutionizing how we entertain ourselves.
Combined with the rise of e-commerce, VR presents a fascinating and potentially very convenient option for shopping. You can explore retail stores, virtually sample products, and ultimately shop ’til you drop with a VR headset. Users can imagine and visualize how, say, a bed frame might fit in their apartment, or how a dress might look on their body type. And browsing is not only more organized, it can also be more pleasant given that there are no fellow shoppers in the store (or pushy salespeople for that matter). Beyond all this, if we consider “shopping” as more than retail, we should also note that there have been early hints of VR programs helping people to shop for cars or even explore homes and other real estate properties.
Tours & Exploration
If you can tour a three-bedroom house in VR (as occurs in the real estate applications just mentioned), it stands to reason that you can tour museums and art galleries as well. Already, VR users can drink in the culture and get to know the masterpieces displayed in the Louvre, the Guggenheim, the British Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History – all spectacular options, but also just a few of the cultural centers that have made their collections available via this exciting modern tech. Naturally there’s still nothing that beats seeing the art in person, for those with an interest in this sort of thing – but VR still offers an affordable way to see it all without having to leave home.
One of the first main uses of VR was actually flight simulation. The idea is that pilots can learn how to maneuver a plane before ever having to fly a real one, which makes for more comprehensive and effective training. Now that VR is so much more mainstream though (and so much better), it’s being applied for training and education in other areas as well. The most important example might be its current use as an educational tool for doctors-to-be. It provides a faster training technique for future surgeons, and can give medical students experience with a number of other techniques and procedures. In fact, there are even some indications that hospitals are starting to use VR as a sort of practice tool even for doctors who are fully trained.
Last but not least, VR can also help users boost their fitness by making exercise exciting. Maybe most notably, spinning instructors, who typically conduct their classes in ordinary studios or designated rooms within gyms, can now take their students on cycling trips in virtual outdoor areas, without having to leave the room. The change of scenery is highly enjoyable and makes working out fun, effective, and easier to stick with – and it’s likely only scratching the surface of the different immersive workouts VR will ultimately provide us with.