Virtual Reality a is new, groundbreaking type of technology that is likely to change our world entirely. It is a computer-simulated experience that a person can actively take part in. It involves using technology to exist in a virtual 3D environment that provides real-time interaction.
Most virtual reality involves wearing a headset and gloves, and being able to actually see and control everything that you see. There is a screen inside the headset and sensors on the gloves. People do have to be in an enclosed space that is specially set up for the process, otherwise they could find themselves walking into things in the real world!
The real marvel of virtual reality is that you can use it to go anywhere you can dare to imagine. For example, you could visit Disneyworld, walk on the moon, or even shoot villains on a James Bond set.
On a more globally productive note, Virtual Reality can be used in the medical profession. Scientists are developing ways to combine reality and medical imaging to assist doctors in diagnosing patients' illnesses and even in performing surgical procedures.
Some doctors believe that Virtual Reality could one day mean that surgeons can perform procedures without being in the same room as the patient, or even the same country. This would be particularly beneficial in bringing specialized care to rural hospitals.
According to Technavio, “VR in Healthcare has witnessed a constant growth in its market size since 2000 and this trend is expected to continue”. Technavio also claims that the growth rate of the global market of VR, “is expected to be around 9 percent for 2009 and then gradually increase to 12 percent for 2012”.
Interestingly, Virtual Reality can also be used to treat phobias. If someone is severely frightened of spiders, for example, they could use Virtual Reality technology to encounter spiders at close proximity, while being safe in the knowledge that the spiders are not really there. This could give them the confidence to touch the virtual spiders and train their mind to be less frightened of them.
There are, of course, downsides to Virtual Reality. The main problem is that it is currently priced out of the market. The vast majority of people, even scientists, cannot afford it.
Perhaps more importantly, if virtual reality was to become a part of our everyday lives, it may stop us having real-life interaction with other human beings. Some people may think this is no bad thing but, biologically, we are sociable animals, and having no contact with others could have seriously detrimental effects.
At the moment, we don’t need to worry about these downsides. Fully immersive virtual reality technology is very expensive and is not overly reliable, meaning that it hasn’t moved into every family’s house just yet. However, a great deal of research is going into it and therefore it is improving all the time. Computers are likely to continue growing in speed and in power, and Virtual Reality technology will improve at the same time.
Virtual reality is a cutting edge, exciting phenomenon. It could revolutionize the world, not only in professional fields such as medicine, but also in the lives of the general public. Play Stations would become seriously second-rate if virtual reality gaming technology was readily available, and families could travel around the world without ever leaving their houses.
Virtual reality is the next stage in our technical evolution and I believe that in the future, it will change the whole world as we now know it.
“Virtual Reality in the Healthcare Industry 2008-2012.” Market Publishers. Web. 7 March.