Believe it or not virtual reality (VR) was introduced in the 1980s and wasn’t a great success. The games were devastating and very few industries saw potential in the technology. With the increasing intelligence and power of modern day computers, we are able to see this technology blossom. We look at the different ways VR is shaping different industries.
Virtual Crime Scenes
With the rise in HD videography and photography, physical crime scenes are no longer as prevalent as they once were. However, a research team based in Britain is making a good case for the use of VR headsets in courtrooms.
Today, a Staffordshire University team is engaged in an extended study using multiple VR platforms, including those designed for gaming. Crime scenes can be scanned using lasers or documented in 3D video using drones.
An interesting VR technique called CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) allows for the viewer to experience a full 360-degree view and walk around and “interact” with various objects, all in a cube sized room.
This technique is already used by auto manufacturer Ford. They use a physical model of a vehicle that is overlaid with a virtual model with which their engineers interact. This all but eliminates the need to construct multiple physical models when dealing with design problems, saving a ton of money in product development.
With adverts being everywhere and rather intrusive thanks to the internet, most consumer apps aim to remove these ads. However, many in the marketing world feel that VR could make ads cool.
Google has led the charge with their Cardboard device—stereo lenses mounted in an actual cardboard viewer that users fold themselves (and which looks like a homemade View-Master). Cardboard works with smartphones and can be used to view VR content easily and cheaply.
Auto manufacturers like BMW and Volvo have commissioned virtual test drives and races, while clothing labels like Hugo Boss and Dior have assembled VR campaigns that put viewers besides the runway at fashion shows. However, this is just the tip of the VR marketing iceberg.
It’s a familiar situation: Architect designs your house, you get a beautiful 3D rendered image, you sign off and once the building is complete, the space doesn’t exactly match what you envisioned. Even if the scene is rendered to scale.
This is where VR comes in. VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have the power to change the way architects design and communicate buildings before they are built. The wearer is instantly immersed in a true three-dimensional environment that gives an incredible sense of scale, depth and spatial awareness that simply cannot be matched by traditional renders, animations or physical-scale models.
In 2016 famous American theme park, Six Flags, gan experimenting with VR to enhance the roller coaster experience.
Riders on older coasters, such as Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia, can spend the long chug up the hill firing at virtual targets (by tapping on buttons on the side of the headset) before experiencing a harrowing alien invasion. The riders swoop and dive through the streets of a virtual city, which is timed perfectly to the actual swoops and dives of the coaster.
Currently, at least a half a dozen NFL clubs utilize virtual reality technology in their training, using headsets designed by StriVR Labs that put players in fully immersive, game-like atmospheres.
Using virtual reality software, coaches can work with their video staffs to turn raw footage of set plays into 3-D models that can be edited and replayed from the perspective of any player on the floor, as opposed to just from a single, fixed angle. While still in its infancy as a tool for athletes, this groundbreaking technology has the potential to entirely transform how we think about sports training.
Residents at the Montreal Neurological Institute may soon be among the best-trained brain surgeons in the world. Using NeuroTouch Cranio, a VR brain surgery simulator, inexperienced surgeons can tackle the toughest situations and learn from their mistakes without consequence.
Prompted by Canada’s higher-than-average rate of adverse events from surgical errors, the use of the simulator has exceeded expectations in its first several years of service. Besides being an invaluable training tool, NeuroTouch Cranio can analyze the performance of its user, make recommendations for improvement, and even assess whether its user possesses the technical skills to be a neurosurgeon.
A popular way of treating phobias is subjecting people to exposure therapy. This therapy exposes a patient to the subject of their phobia (such as heights) and increasing dosage until the phobia is under control. The problem with this is the health risks when taking an actual patient to a 20 foot high building.
This is VR can help as it’s not “real. The University of West Virginia in Charleston runs VR programs that allow patients to confront a wide array of fears—from public speaking (where a virtual crowd grows fidgety and begins throwing things at the patient as they speak) to heights (by making the patient cross a high, narrow glass walkway).
Healing the paralyzed
In a truly amazing study from Duke University, neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis and his team used a powered exoskeleton and a VR headset to give quadriplegics the experience of walking again.
The experiment placed subjects in a virtual environment which they could navigate with hand controls, translating to physical movement produced by the exoskeleton. All eight subjects showed marked improvement in sensory capacity and muscle control below the sites of their injuries.
Police and military training simulators are nothing new. But one system, dubbed the VirTra 300, has come into vogue among hundreds of police agencies around the US. Rather than teach officers to shoot better, its main focus is training them to avoid using deadly force altogether.
The highly programmable system puts officers in unique virtual situations which can end in many ways, depending on the user’s reactions. Each situation has dozens of branching scenarios which trainers manipulate in real time. The aim is to guide users toward de-escalation techniques which only use force as a last resort.
This article was originally on Listverse.com.