Virtual reality – not just for games and entertainment. What impact will it have in the future?

Quite a few people have tried, or at least heard of, virtual reality equipment – some have been impressed by it, others have not been too impressed. The virtual reality (VR) market is still in its infancy. What developments will drive this potential progress in virtual reality? In what areas of life could it be extended?

Virtual reality – where is it used and applied?

These days, the most popular VR applications involve controlling the user’s vision and hearing to create an immersive experience by guiding the user into an absolutely virtual environment that feels quite realistic. In the game, climbing to a great height and looking down can make you dizzy. If you see an object flying towards you, your body will reflexively try to avoid it. In the near future, VR developers will enhance our experience by being able to incorporate the senses of smell and touch. What’s more, VR devices are expected to become cheaper and lighter in the future, which will increase accessibility to VR.

VR is most often associated with the entertainment sector – the primary connotation of the technology is simulations of amusement rides or escape rooms – but where else can VR be used successfully in the present? Well, so far VR is making strong inroads into education. 

In 2020, Engage released a VR education platform, which is being used by Facebook, HTC and the European Commission to enliven and enhance the distance learning experience. A 2019 study conducted at the University of California showed that surgical students who used VR to learn were able to perform procedures faster and more efficiently than other students who learned the traditional way. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is the first in the world to create a surgical simulation room where surgical trainees learn a variety of basic surgical procedures using laparoscopic instruments. These instruments allow the trainee to experience the corresponding physical sensations, such as feeling soft tissue or the vibration of a bone saw during the simulation. This allows trainees to become more familiar with the live procedure before entering the operating room.

This kind of technology, which allows tactile simulation, will have a major impact on the future of education. These days, the Teslasuit device performs such a function: it is a full-body suit that provides haptic feedback, which creates a tactile sensation, and also measures breathing or heart rate using various biometric sensors. The suit is already in use in NASA astronaut training camps. It is true that such technology has enormous potential, as it allows the simulation of dangerous or awkward situations, drastically reducing the risk of financial costs that arise from inexperienced novices trying to work with expensive tools in any industry.

In conclusion, as VR technology continues to develop, incorporating additional senses such as smell and touch, it has the potential to create even more immersive experiences. While VR is commonly associated with entertainment, its successful implementation is evident in the education sector. VR platforms are being utilized to enhance distance learning, and studies have shown its effectiveness in training surgical students. The introduction of tactile simulation through devices like the Teslasuit opens up possibilities for safe and cost-effective training in various industries. The future of VR holds promising advancements that can revolutionize education and enhance skills development across different fields.