The future is finally here. Virtual reality technology is not only convincingly immersive and comfortable – it’s on the market for an affordable price. But the ways we can use the technology go beyond gaming. The last few years have seen the emergence of a number of start-ups developing new VR tools that we can use in our daily lives.
Using VR technology as part of the treatment in pain therapy is not a new concept. In 2008, the virtual reality game SnowWorld was designed to help burn victims with pain relief. The game sees players travel through an icy world and shoot snowballs at penguins whilst listening to upbeat music. The game has shown to be successful in reducing pain experienced by burn victims during their treatment. Now, VR developers DeepStream are known as being at the forefront of VR technology for health and medical purposes. Amongst their VR products are games such as ‘Cool!’ which places the user in a relaxing natural habitat, where they can solve puzzles and explore landscapes. The games help distract patients from their pain, with 60-70% of users reporting a pain alleviation – the effects of which can apparently last up to 48 hours. Whether it be for mental or physical health, VR technology has clearly shown to be successful in pain therapy, and DeepStream’s games are an example of that.
An estimated 100 million people play poker around the world – with millions more also frequenting traditional casinos. With gambling laws becoming increasingly relaxed in both North America and Asia, poker will become increasingly popular in the near future. The new company GetLucky VR turns the most popular online poker rooms into virtual reality casinos or home poker games. The concept is drawing interest because of how it will combine what people enjoy about playing online (the privacy, low-stake investment and convenience) with what people prefer about live casinos (the social interaction and visual element). Most interestingly, GetLucky VR could theoretically simulate the thrill of gambling using only virtual money, making it an excellent tool for those looking for a free way to practise their poker skills, or for those who simply want to enjoy a risk-free illusion of gambling. In other words, GetLucky VR does not only have the potential to revolutionize the igaming industry – it can also help people with gambling addictions.
One of the most useful ways that VR can be used (as far as designers are concerned, at least) is in architectural planning. Typically architects use 3D modelling programs to help visualize their designs, but there is a limit to how well they can get an insight into how their space will feel when finally constructed. VR technology can help place designers in the middle of their designs prior to constructions, letting them walk around the space and make design changes to the simulated environment in real time. This is exactly what UK-based VRtisan are doing with their VR architectural design experience. “Using their entire body as part of the process, designers can develop both the dimensional and the ergonomic relationships of spaces and elements,” VRtisan explains.
Describe as a ‘collective awareness engine’, the new CrowdOptic app combines real time GPS data with live video streaming, allowing others to view a scene from the perspective of whoever is using the app on their phone or smart glasses. Many believe the app can help in emergency situations. For example, firefighters could live stream their work whilst inside a building, reporting back to commanders who will then have a good idea of where the firefighters are – as well as the severity of the fire. CrowdOptic is being eyed by many emergency services and has raised more than $10.7 from investors since launching.
This startup company is revolutionizing the way that we interact long-distance. AltaspaceVR creates simulated settings in which you can socialize with friends on the other side of the globe. Anyone who enters the same setting with their own VR character will be able to interact with you. There are a huge range of settings you can choose between, and plenty of activities in which you can partake in when inside this social VR world. You could play basketball with strangers or walk along the beach with your long-distance partner. You could attend VR comedy shows, language classes or parties – all whilst socializing with real people in a virtual universe.
Evidently, there are countless ways that VR can be used in everyday life to make the world a more efficient and entertaining place. These are just a few of the businesses at the forefront of that movement.