Shaun Allan is the director of immersive tech, he heads-up the strategic development of the VR/AR/MR division at hedgehog lab.
As part of our immersive strategy, my team and I spend most of our time researching technological advancements taking place across the globe. This is to ensure our clients – and indeed consumers – can make informed choices, particularly when it comes to talking to us about building stunning apps. Recently, our focus has been on virtual reality (VR), which, as my colleague Gopal Iyer highlighted in a previous blog, is set to be a game changer, shaping the future of things yet to come.
An early indication of the market’s potential, of course, was the takeover of Oculus VR by Facebook. Rift, the company’s headset, which is produced by Oculus VR, provides and engineers virtual reality. It is certain that Facebook won’t restrict such advanced technology to gamers. In fact, we predict its ultimate goal will be to grow its popularity among schools, healthcare, and entertainment, where it will sit alongside smartphones, tablets, and computers. Moreover, Facebook’s social VR infrastructure will have huge implications for collaborative working throughout the coming years.
In this blog, we will discuss a number of emerging opportunities which VR presents for enterprises prepared to take the road less travelled.
Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in soldiers
PTSD is the most common symptom of clinical distress experienced by war veterans. Thankfully, VR can help with rehabilitation through creating virtual war zones and other simulations that allow subjects to face and overcome their fears within a safe, immersive environment.
Coaching Sports athletes
Imagine a technology that could help footballers improve their passing techniques. Sounds unbelievable, right? That was certainly my view until finding out about a programme tested at Stanford University in which VR was successfully used to boost overall performance. Similar techniques could also be applied to a wide array of other sports.
Assisting stroke patients to re-adapt
One major challenge often faced by stroke patients is loss of limb movement. Recent research, however, indicates that VR could assist in this regard. With the help of Microsoft Kinect sensors, stroke patients can control a virtual body that corresponds to their own, the experience encouraging them to use weaker limbs through ‘tricking’ them into believing they are more responsive than they are, thus improving motor performance.
Overcoming fears of public speaking
Many people experience some degree of ‘stage fright’, impairing their ability to speak publicly; according to a recent survey close to 2/5th of Americans suffer from the ‘stage fear’ syndrome. VR, however, can help such individuals gather the courage required to speak in front of an audience, with recent apps placing would-be speakers in packed-out virtual rooms, helping them prepare for the event itself.
Helping courtrooms deliver justice
Within courtrooms, VR has the potential to dramatically change the means by which justice is delivered through enabling immersive crime scene reconstructions. In this case, each side would likely present differing virtual environments, enabling jurors to get a clear image of the evidence they must assess.
Training dental scholars
Few, one assumes, would care to be ‘guinea pigs’ for trainee dentist’s wielding drills. Thankfully, the dental students can now make use of Virtual Reality, honing their skills on virtual ‘patients’ before working with real ones. VR apps built for the profession, in fact, are quite realistic, featuring subjects with distinct personalities and varied medical histories. As an expert from the Medical College of Georgia put it: “It’s anytime, anywhere education – a classroom without walls.”
As is evident from the above, the potential of Virtual Reality is huge, offering unique benefits across a wide range of fields. In short, it can’t be ignored.