The future has arrived. Well, we may not have flying cars just yet. But we’ve got the next best thing – virtual reality. The recent release of several products has seen virtual reality go from a sci-fi dream into a tangible reality. But VR isn’t just for incredible gaming experiences. Okay, that’s a definite plus. But VR is changing the way we see the world in more ways than you might think. Here are some of the craziest, most awesome uses of VR that prove we’re living in the future. Read on to learn more.
1. Medical Training
“Walk a mile in my shoes” is a famous mantra for the older generation. But the younger generation could never see life through the eyes of their elders – until now.
The We Are Alfred project lets 20-something medical students live the life of a 74-year-old medical patient named Alfred, whose visual impairments are being misdiagnosed as cognitive issues. The seven-minute interactive experience takes students through experience of being diagnosed and is intended to teach young doctors how to deal with older patients.
It gets better:
Medical students can now get a first-person view of surgery thanks to the Moveo Foundation. During a surgery, students used Rift VR headsets to get a live look at a surgery being performed. Thanks to VR, future surgeons can get a firsthand surgery experience without ever stepping foot into an operating room.
2. PTSD Treatment
VR is changing not only the way we approach the medical field, but also the way we treat certain disorders. Case in point – PTSD.
Doctors have traditionally relied on exposure therapy to help those who suffer from PTSD. The therapy revolves around patients recounting their traumatic experiences through a series of exercises.
VR takes it a step further. PTSD patients can actually immerse themselves in fear-inducing environments in the hopes to lower their response to certain triggers.
Want to know the best part?
A recent study found that VR has had significant reductions in the severity of PTSD symptoms for those who had failed to respond to other therapies.
Remember the days of watching boring slide after boring slide during a lecture? They may be a thing of the past thanks to VR.
A recent Google-partnered school program called #EduHam allowed students to take virtual reality tours of Alexander Hamilton’s life. Students who strapped on Google Cardboard Expeditions were greeted by images from Gilder Lehrman’s archives and Google Street View.
The six-week course was aimed at bringing American Revolution era studies to life for low-income high school students. Students then took their VR knowledge and turned it into a monologue.
Here’s the kicker:
Students with the best monologue got free tickets to the hit musical Hamilton. It appears VR has done the impossible: it has made education fun.
Nobody likes going to the dentist. Thanks to VR, however, you might get to skip the Novocain during your next filling.
A recent study showed that VR could significantly reduce pain and anxiety in dental patients. How?
The study used VR to test roughly 80 patients who needed a cavity filled or a tooth pulled at the dentist. The patients were separated into three groups – one with VR showing a coastal scene, one with VR showing a city scene, and one with no VR at all.
The lucky group with the beach images was found to experience “significantly less pain” than their counterparts. It’s a small study, but it could be instrumental in making a trip to the dentist seem (slightly) tolerable.
Traveling is an awesome way to experience the world. That is, until you consider the hefty price tag, long travel times, and exhaustive time differences.
But thanks to VR, you can travel the world without ever leaving your couch. Virtual tourism is very much in its infancy, but its already shaping the way people experience unchartered territory.
Users can teleport themselves into a new experience simply by strapping on a VR headset. GeoVegas is already offering 360-degree tours of attractions, while Marriott invited customers to travel virtually to Hawaii and other destinations last year.
You may not get the full experience of a legendary trip. But you’ll also get access to a new world right in front of your eyes.