Each couple of years technology progresses exponentially, growing ever faster, more powerful but also cheaper. This technological boom gave a meteoric rise to VR technologies. Before that, what even is VR? VR stands for Virtual Reality and according to VRS, VR is a computer generated imagery and hardware specifically designed to bring those sights and sounds to us in a way that is totally immersive.
The term was first coined by Jaron Lenier in the mid-1980s. Jaron is the founder of VPL (Virtual Programming Language) Research, he used the term back when he was developing gears, like goggles and gloves, needed to experience “virtual reality”. He would then successfully develop The DataGlove, The EyePhone and The DataSuit before VPL Research filed for bankruptcy in 1990.
Another notable example is the Sensorama in 1956 by Morton Heilig. The Sensorama aims to simulate real life environments where in his first trial, he tried to simulate the experience of riding a motorcycle through the streets of New York by letting people see the road, hear the engine, feel the vibration, and smell the exhaust, all of it done with a single machine.
From those two earlier examples, we know that people have been dreaming of a world where we can let dreams come true, a world not bound by the physical limitation of reality, a “virtual reality” long before the technology to make it feasible exists. But there’s light in the end of the tunnel for VR technology with the advent of Oculus Rift VR headset by a young Palmer Luckey.
After launching a successful kickstarter campaign that raised $2.4 million dollars, companies began to take notice and the first to move was Facebook by buying Oculus which prompted a response from other names like HTC, Valve, Sony and many more.
With competition, comes innovation. VR advanced immensely and thus making it cheaper for the public to experience and immerse themselves in virtual reality. Fast forward to the present day, there’s a lot of potential uses that VR can help us with our daily activities whether it be shooting bad guys in slow-mo to watching Justin Bieber, everything can be done in VR.
Get Immersive Experience for Entertainment
Pop culture has been using the concept of virtual reality since 1933 with the series of short stories The Men Who Awoke by Laurence Manning describing a machine that replaces people’s senses to allow them live a make-believe life. The concept however sprung to life in the 80s and 90s with the book Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson or The Matrix where a group of heroes must wage war against a group of sentient machines that have enslaved humanity. VR games however only recently became popular in the 2010’s with the release of games such as Half-Life: Alyx, Beat Saber, Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality and many more.
Level-up your Education
VR can also be helpful for education especially those in the medical or the military field. Aspiring surgeons can now easily and cheaply practice operations which makes them more confident when they have to do it in real life and future generals and corporals can now supplement their training with virtual environments to rack up experiences and correct any mistakes they made that can’t be done on the battlefield because if you misstep once, you’ll just be a name on a gravestone. Engineers can also benefit from VR greatly by seeing their design in 3D and simulating any stress the building might experience.
Upgrading your Business to The Next Level
VR is not just used for fun but it can be used for serious business too. MeetinVR is one of the apps that lets you conduct business meeting in VR and is now slowly being integrated to the business world. No more lousy phone calls or back-to-back emails, VR meetings can feel more natural and lead to higher levels of consensus, satisfaction and cohesion among group members.
Do Social Activities from the Comfort of Your Own Home
With the creation of VRChat, you can interact with people across the world using custom avatars in various virtual worlds that people made to best fit their imagination. Not only that, various artists have also done virtual concerts, like Justin Bieber on November 18 2021 and Post Malone on July 15 2021. The possibility that virtual concerts give can be unlimited because everything’s digital, you can have a dragon coming out from the stage to the audience like that scene in Scott Pilgrim vs The World or have the earth split in two when the sick bass drop happens, the sky’s the limit on what things can be done to give your concerts that zing.
Healing The Mind with VR
Due to its advantage of simulating any kind of environment, VR is used for exposure therapy to treat anxiety disorders such as PTSD or phobias. Even though research has been done whether or not VR can be helpful for physical rehabilitation, the results for now are lacking compared to existing methods and equipment. However, VR is currently being discussed about its uses for the people who’ve lost their family and helping them get through the grieving process by letting them meet with a digital recreation of the deceased and was actually done in a South Korean Documentary “Meeting You” by MBC Global Media. The various complications and ethical challenges it has makes this a hard pill to swallow.
From enjoying virtual gaming to curing your PTSD, there are many things that VR can be used for and even complement In-Real Life stuff, if you can think of it then VR can and will be used. But with VR still at its early phases, the things that can be implemented are still limited.
Nowadays, people might know the term Metaverse. It and VR are two peas in a pod, almost indistinguishable from each other. If we’re speaking definitions, Metaverse is the virtual world that most people dream of and VR is the technology to make it happen alongside the help of AR. I haven’t even talked about AR, but that’s another story for another day.
Virtual reality might just be a silly thing to think about for some people but with how many advantages it brings to the table, I don’t see it as just a technology, I see it as the future. I see it being used in day-to-day life, I see it as a second life. Just like Kirito once said “This may be a virtual world, but I feel more alive here than in the real world.”
Nuruddin Ihsan Affandi