Many people consider Virtual Reality, or VR for short, as nothing more than a form of interactive entertainment. It has the ability to stimulate multiple senses and to place you in a totally new environment. For some, this is a waste of VR’s potential, with the extremely innovative technology perhaps finding better use in more important areas.
Yet just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean the technology isn’t being used across the world for a wide variety of purposes.
Before being deployed, all soldiers must undergo training. This is the same for all three military branches; Army, Navy and Air Force. Physical, psychological and technological expertise are all essential and taught as part of the training process. In an attempt to improve and expand their training exercises, many militaries across the world utilise VR technology. By placing soldiers in a VR simulation, highly realistic scenarios such as flights, battlefields, vehicles and medical training can be created, better preparing them for situations they may face in the field.
Many students of all ages find school boring. Perhaps they don’t like the subject material or maybe it’s the teachers but whatever the reason, schools often struggle to find new ways to engage with pupils. This is especially true of today’s generation, which is growing up in a society where innovative technologies are just another part of daily life. Basically, blackboards aren’t going to cut it anymore. As such, many schools are introducing VR devices to encourage students to participate in and enjoy their lessons.
VR can be used to create different time periods for History lessons, create a map of the stars for Science or Astronomy and be used as a digital canvas for Art classes.
This seems like the most unlikely combination. One is an activity that often requires you to be constantly moving, while the other very rarely requires you to move more than a few steps at any given time. In the world of sport, however, particularly activites such as golf, athletics and skiing, VR is used as a training aid and can help athletes pinpoint areas for improvement.
Not only can VR create environments such as a golf course, ski track or stadium, it can also be used to record performance in real-time and offer feedback and criticism for future improvement. A golfer, for example, could learn how fast or how hard they should swing their golf club in different situations, all based on the data provided to them by VR technology.
In the healthcare industry, the benefits VR provides are similar to those in the military. By providing the opportunity for medical professionals with hands on experience via a simulation, they can be more prepared to handle real-world situations when the time comes.
Healthcare centres and hospitals can create surgery simulations for a more immersive experience, offer a variety of skills training and enable the use of more sophisticated and intelligent robotics technology during more fine-tuned and delicate procedures to limit the risk of human error. Research shows that the healthcare industry, besides the entertainment industry, is among the biggest adopters of VR and the benefits it provides.
These four uses are just a handful of dozens of scenarios already using the technology on an everyday basis, showing that even if you don’t see VR technology being used for anything other than entertainment, that doesn’t mean it isn’t actively being used in a variety of important and interesting ways across entire industries.
This blog was written by Proactive Pathway student Thomas Barley, from the University of Lincoln