The Realities of Virtual Reality

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If you read our article about Virtual Reality, you probably better understand what it is, how it has progressed throughout history, as well as how it differs from artificial reality. In this article, we will be diving deeper into the realities of VR. We will discuss the pros and cons of virtual reality, the limitations of it, as well as what the future holds. Virtual Reality is just one of the branches of the Metaverse along with Augmented Reality that will continue to grow as technology expands. 

What are Some of the Positive Aspects of Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality gives people the chance to travel around the world, and even outer space, without having to leave the comfort of their homes. This capability is already taken advantage of by schools worldwide to enrich lesson plans. 

It also allows people to experience the world in ways they never could before. You can stand on top of a waterfall, fly with the birds, and visit Paris for a couple of hours. It has opened a world of endless possibilities, opportunities, and excitement. 

Another cool aspect of virtual reality is the ability to get rewards without any risk. People can ride rollercoasters, bungee jump, scuba dive, or even go skydiving without the risks associated with these activities. Still, the user gets the adrenaline rush that they often seek out through these types of activities. The benefits of it do not stop at just the superficial stuff, either. 

What are Some of the Negative Aspects?

Even with all the positives that come with virtual reality, there are still some negatives to consider. One of them is the fact that virtual reality can result in less human contact. Since virtual reality allows people to experience things in brand new ways, it can become addictive. If people start exploring this new virtual world, they can get sucked in for long periods of time and end up neglecting their real lives, the real world, and the people in it. 

Virtual reality can also be somewhat deceptive. VR allows people to be whoever they want to be. Though this can be viewed as a good thing, it could be taken advantage of for deceptive purposes. For example, people can create avatars to persuade others to purchase products or services. They can do this by creating a relatable avatar with common interests and befriending others for their personal gain. 

It can also result in some negative physical side-effects. As we mentioned before, virtual reality allows you to do fun, risky things while still being safe, which is a huge perk! On the downside, many users have reported nausea due to VR headsets playing tricks on their senses. Additionally, people have reported eyestrain due to the large number of visual stimuli you often experience in virtual reality. 

Motion sickness is a potential hazard when it comes to virtual reality. The mismatch between body movements and what is seen in a virtual world can cause dizziness and eyestrain for some people. This results in eye damage being a major concern for potential users. The widespread usage of computers had resulted in Computer Vision Syndrome

There is considerable evidence that computers, televisions, and smartphones have increased eye problems globally. Even though VR uses high-quality screens, this drawback can even result in the government getting involved if it negatively impacts health on a large scale, like how they’ve put restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Things like this will need to be taken into consideration if there is ever a chance for virtual reality to skyrocket into success in the future.  

They can also be quite heavy and uncomfortable. Extended use of VR goggles and devices can result in headaches and neck pain. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the weight with lighter, durable materials but this results in the price of VR devices increasing significantly. For this reason, there tends to be a higher affinity for augmented reality since it does not typically include heavier goggles and devices the way that VR does. 

Augmented reality puts computer-generated objects into your real environment, so it is not entirely virtual in the way that VR is. One popular example of AR is the Pokémon Go game people often play on their smartphones. With virtual reality, you cannot see anything around you in the real world which can be potentially dangerous. This can be a huge drawback since the lack of vision can result in some harmful accidents. 

What are Some Limitations?

Contrary to popular belief, most of the limitations regarding Virtual Reality have nothing to do with what technology can and cannot do, but more so because of how technology is often misused. Being embodied as an avatar means that there are more boundaries can be violated. Audio and haptic feedback makes it possible to hear and feel what other people are saying and doing. Haptic feedback allows users to feel the virtual environment, not just through voice-based or vision-based interactions but through touch. These extra dimensions can make the harassment that sometimes comes from the Internet and social media a whole lot more traumatizing. Another issue is authentication. As you probably know, the Internet is filled with fake news, phishing, and catfishing. Imagine how much crazier this could get in an all-encompassing experiential medium?  

Cost is another concern when it comes to VR and AR since cheap computing power is not much of a reality when it comes to high-tech options like virtual reality. Even subpar VR devices cost a lot. This trend is not likely to change until we figure out how to reduce the cost of VR devices.   

Additionally, the software for virtual reality is much bigger. VR needs more programming to allow for an immersive experience, requiring a lot more space and computing power which can make it difficult to have it in your home. This also makes it expensive. The truth is that the less affordable this type of computing power is, the less likely it is that these will ever become mainstream until technology advances further. Fortunately, compressing the software should not be a huge issue, but it will take some time for VR to decrease in size. Unfortunately, compressing it means increased initial costs for VR systems. 

What Does the Future Hold for Virtual Reality?

Honestly, Virtual Reality can benefit just about anything and everything. Aside from just interactive entertainment and games, it can be used for PTSD, pain relief, design, education, telecommuting, and office work. This is because people can occupy an avatar, experience different surroundings, have real reactions, as well as store and retrieve those interactions like they would any other real-life memory. 

Virtual reality is more advanced than both augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR).  As mentioned above, AR places computer-generated objects in reality whereas mixed reality includes segments of both VR and AR. Regarding virtual reality, there are already available headsets such as the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. Gaming aside, VR headsets are making their way into entertainment, healthcare, travel/tourism, education, manufacturing, and training. It has the potential to create a personal movie theatre in your home, to get you front row seats at your favorite concerts, or to snag the best seats at a baseball game. 

Even more interestingly, VR is being used to create 3D models of the body to assist with surgical procedure training, as well as therapy for stroke, brain injuries, phobias, and PTSD. In these instances, VR is used to exercise the brain and introduce it to stressors in a controlled environment. The Oculus Rift is being used by Ford to design cars, Toyota for distracted driver training, and NASA for astronaut training, and in the court oom for crime scene reconstruction.  

In the future, virtual reality can be fine-tuned to assist with all these tasks, as well as help the average person with everyday decision- making. Virtual reality can help you with small decisions such as whether you should buy an outfit, as well as bigger decisions such as exploring a foreign country before booking tickets or touring a home before you buy it. 

As you can see, virtual reality has come a long way and it has so much potential with regards to gaming, as well as other everyday tasks. Despite some setbacks and limitations, it has the power to make the world a better place by simplifying grueling tasks, training people to do their jobs better, and healing people from conditions that might limit them from living their best lives. 

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