By Allen Foster
Although it wasn’t called “virtual reality” until the mid-80s, the idea has been around since the 1800s when the first device was used to create three-dimensional images from two-dimensional drawings. But virtual reality technology has come a long way since the stereoscope. Immersing yourself in a virtual reality has transcended novelty and entertainment purposes. The technology can now be harnessed to solve problems whether they are personal or global in scope. Some of the newest uses for virtual reality include the following.
Experience New Things
There are a number of VR programs that allow you to accomplish feats or experience activities in a way that simply might not be feasible or safe at this moment in your life. Through incredible simulations, anyone can now climb Mount Everest or attempt skydiving. Even more amazing, you can experience what it’s like to travel deep into outer space.
Conquer Your Fears
Recent studies have found success in treating people with phobias in a virtual world. Some of the most impressive results have come from a group of Oxford academics working with patients who have acrophobia. During the study, nearly three out of four individuals were able to successfully overcome their irrational fear of heights in a safe, virtual world.
Do the Impossible
Launching far out into outer space or diving deep under the ocean might make for some wild virtual reality trips, but both are also possible in the real world. Shrinking down to the size of a blood cell and traveling through the body on the crest of a heartbeat… ow that’s an incredible journey! Scientists and artists are mapping out highly detailed models that make it possible to experience life from an impossible perspective.
After the Taliban destroyed two 1,700-year-old Buddhist statues in 2001, a movement began to preserve historical monuments. The Open Heritage project uses laser scanning to recreate detailed three-dimensional models of the world’s greatest historical monuments so they will not be lost in the event of war, natural disaster, or succumb to the ravages of time.
One of the earliest stages of dementia involves a decreased ability to navigate. Sea Hero Quest is a virtual reality game that was developed in the UK and is being used to create a benchmark for standard performance. As more and more players provide data for researchers, the game may eventually be able to catch dementia in the very beginning stages, before symptoms even become apparent.