2016 has been the year for virtual reality. Though it’s been around for a while, only now has it seemed to have found its groove. The headsets are better than ever. VR isn’t only for gaming or simulating being on a rollercoaster either. Here are some other incredible ways it can be used.
Use VR to learn to cook
Game developers have created a program called the CyberCook, which was specifically designed for the Samsung Gear. The app, described as a hyper-real cooking simulator, teaches users how to be a pro in the kitchen. If you are on a tight budget and don’t want to experiment with real food, virtual reality could possibly turn you into Gordan Ramsey. In VR, you’ll be working with key ingredients and following exact instructions. For instance, if you leave the oven on too long, your virtual meal will burn.
Essentially, you can brag to your friends that you know how to make lobster ravioli with truffle oil, but the sad thing is that you can’t even sample your own food. I’m still not 100% on this idea because I think cooking is something you need to learn by doing. Who knows, I’m sure that somewhere in the world, there is a virtual reality cooking class that has already sold out. Would you be interested in learning how to cook like a pro in virtual reality? Tell me, I’d love to know, in the comments below.
Take a VR trip into space
NASA is in the midst of bringing virtual reality to outer space with the Mars 2030 Project. The simulation will be great for training purposes. They will also make the technology available on most VR headsets for people like us to embrace a life on Mars when we need a break from Earth. Now, we don’t need to pay Elon Musk $100,000 to fly us into space! Personally, I’m really excited about this experience in VR. I have the feeling there will be a VR meet-up to discover if there is life on Mars. It’ll be called Alien Spotting in VR meet up. I’m intrigued, are you?
Take a VR scuba dive
Have you ever wanted to try scuba diving but were too nervous? There are a number of ways to do it virtually. MIT Media Lab has a research project, the Amphibian SCUBA Diving Simulator, which lets users experience the underwater world through a high-presence virtual reality system. Not just a headset, it’s a full 360-degree experience. The system at MIT includes a motion platform, an Oculus Rift head-mounted display, snorkels with sensors, leg-motion sensors, and gloves that enable motion detection, temperature simulation, and physical feedback of objects. The captured sensor data is sent to a processing unit, which converts the user’s physical motion into virtual movement in the Oculus app. I just wanted to mention the extent of how far MIT would go to bring scuba diving in virtual reality.
You can also spend $10 at London’s Natural history Museum for a fifteen-minute dive to the Great Barrier Reef. Another crazy concept piece is a VR-interactive diving mask from a company called ZTE. It allows you to go underwater in a lake or pool and be taken to somewhere around the world to swim with dolphins. I’m both fascinated and terrified by this headset. To go underwater with it is something else altogether. What do you think? Would you want to take a VR headset underwater in order to experience diving far away but in your own backyard pool?
Spending a night at the VR museum
Yes, a VR headset can take us on a roller coaster at 6 Flags, but it can also add culture to our reality. This technology can instantly take us to the Louvre in Paris, the Guggenheim in New York City, and even the Acropolis in Athens. The best part is you can do it all in one night. Anyone with a smartphone and VR headset (even the cardboard kind) can take a quick trip to the museum.
Keeping us entertained
We already can acknowledge that VR is not just for games. Filmmakers are now experimenting with virtual reality. The company Oculus has launched a division called Story Studio, made up of ex-Pixar and Dreamworks Animation folks. Story Studio has released two short animated films, Lost and Henry, and is working on their next film, Dear Angelica, which is an illustrative movie about a teenage girl looking back on the stories her mom told her as a child.
Live entertainment such as a Cirque du Soleil performance or a Coldplay concert is also being shot in virtual reality. This is great for those who hate crowds, as all you have to do is sit on your couch.
VR enhanced healthcare and rehabilitation
The healthcare industry has embraced virtual reality technology to support both seasoned and new surgeons in complicated operations such as removing tumours. Due to its resemblance to real life, VR is highly regarded as an educational tool.
Not only that, it helps with rehabilitation and therapy. For instance, VR is used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients. Traditionally, doctors employ “exposure therapy,” which involves the patient verbalizing how they react to stressful situations. Now, doctors are including VR to create a virtual world that is customizable to the specific trauma. For instance, a war veteran would experience helicopters, missiles, etc.
Another fascinating way VR is making an impact is by helping autistic children and teens to develop social skills. A program created at the University of Texas puts kids into virtual scenarios such as job interviews, dates, and shopping at the supermarket. They are learning how to understand social cues and respond appropriately. The professors are monitoring their brain waves to detect increased activity in areas connected to social understanding.
What are your thoughts on virtual reality? Do you think it’s a fad or a technology that is going to be embraced by the mass very soon? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: AnandTech