Virtual reality combines computer gaming together with 3D images, simulators, computer-assisted instructions, and entertainment. Some of these systems are made to provide an immersive environment using head-mounted displays that provide a real-world view. Others use a fixed display that surrounds you in a virtual environment sometimes called a CAVE.
VR's can be for entertainment, they can be educational, they can have civic value or they can be therapeutic. Most feel that their value is greater than any drawbacks they have. Some of those drawbacks can include a loss of inclusion with reality and sometimes physical side effects. At an annual event, a conference is held where gaming companies can highlight their newest and greatest products.
Education And Training
A VR system can model complex behaviors that in the real world may have life-or-death consequences. Instead of putting a beginner driver behind the wheel, the simulator can help them to learn the basics without putting them in any danger. It also means that others and property are not in danger.
Using a virtual reality machine can lessen liability for driving schools. Commercial aviation and Military can also benefit from VR CAVES. These are places where beginners can gain experience controlling complicated machinery that typically has steep learning curves and where improper operations can cause serious problems.
Medical students have benefited through immersive experiences that allowed them to gain experience with surgical skills without using cadavers or live patients. There are some training situations where the only option for a safe environment is to use Virtual Reality technology to gain basic or advanced skills. It is still likely that the individuals will ultimately require some hands-on experience but they can get some of it from a VR. If the VR does a poor job representing real-life then the training results can be less than adequate.
Gaming And Entertainment
Using goggles and a headset along with entertainment and gaming software, participants can be inserted into an imaginary world. This turns the screen into a living experience. There are some VR headsets that are very pricey. This is especially true if it has a proprietary closed face design. If someone wears one for a very long period of time they may get unsettling feelings and fatigue.
Making and supporting these experiences requires advanced programming resources that go way beyond most entertainment experiences. If the viewer fails to have enough facial cues it won't accommodate the head movements made by participants. This can then cause the participant to experience motion sickness. In rare cases using a VR
causes its user to lose the ability to react to genuine experiences and this then causes them to use a VR instead of participating in real life.
Help And Healing
Those in the military can use these machines to stimulate traumatic events. This can help them to work through some of the stress that often results when encountering combat. In this situation the person becomes desensitized to some real events but rather than being a disadvantage it is advantageous because it helps them to decrease their overall stress levels. VR equipment can help people overcome phobias, especially when they are related to being near specific animals or handling them. It can also help with overcoming phobias related to things or places.
This tool may also help with physical rehabilitation by allowing patients to refine their skills in a clinical setting before needing to do so in real-life situations. If the VR becomes too real for the user it can be problematic. It may in some cases actually set them back in their treatment.
Planning And Architecture
Using this technology in architecture can help urban planners and other decision-makers actually see the final outcome before development begins. Some of the early versions of this technology used geographic information systems along with computer-aided design to produce Virtual Worlds on a web browser. Now websites are able to display reconstructions of whole cities and move its users through an immersive experience. All that is required is the ability to use an onscreen view together with a VR headset.