The Origins of VR
The idea of a fully immersive, artificially created experience goes back to wishful writings from the 19th century. Though there were a few early writers who were inspired by the idea of a totally immersive experience, they could do little to explore their fascination further.
Until the 1960s, VR technology was nothing more than a dream or the subject of science fiction. Outside of highly technical applications, VR technology didn’t come into contact with the public very often. Research into VR picked up during the 1980s, but overall, VR simply wasn’t accessible to the masses until the mid-90s.
Things in the VR-development space heated up in 2012 when Palmer Luckey debuted a prototype of the VR headset Oculus Rift. Despite the device’s humble beginnings – initial funding for the Oculus Rift was crowdsourced through a Kickstarter campaign – Luckey’s company Oculus VR was eventually bought by Facebook in 2014 for a reported $2B USD. But gaming isn’t the only venue for VR use; this technology has made its way into other industries as well.
Using VR to Heal the Mind
The effect of VR technology on mental health is a subject of ongoing debate. Some feel that immersion in a virtual world – particularly in the form of violent video games – could be detrimental to the mental health of young people, and this remains an area that is open to independent research. What is better understood is the tremendous therapeutic potential that VR holds for some mental disorders.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a major problem for military personnel returning from combat, as well as for civilians who have experienced traumatic events. VR technology has been used to help PTSD sufferers cope with their symptoms. Used in conjunction with support from a trained mental health professional, VR can help people move past the traumatic events that caused their debilitating condition.
Building the Real World Through a Virtual One
The capacity that VR has to change the nature of construction is incredible. Instead of having to use detailed models on a computer screen, architects and engineers can use VR to explore their designs at a level that was impossible a decade ago.
As modeling techniques become more advanced and more real-world input is integrated into detailed computer models, the role that VR will play is almost certain to grow. Think about the design work that is necessary for an urban park. Not only does the existing subterranean infrastructure have to be taken into account, but numerous other factors also need to be looked at.
VR technology can help engineers and architects obtain a real-world view of their plans in a totally immersive virtual environment. This is exactly how energy distribution company Enbridge utilizes VR. Working with Finger Food Studios and Microsoft, the company has created a holographic VR representation of subterranean oil pipelines. Now Enbridge can create models for complex geologic environments in order to anticipate potential construction challenges long before they actually arise.
Revolutionizing the Real Estate Market
Creative visualization agency LNG Studios is putting VR to use in the real estate market, where it could enable the next big leap forward in how people rent, design, and buy houses. LNG has created tools that allow prospective home buyers or renters to explore properties from their smartphones. Their system also works with more advanced VR headsets, allowing real estate agents to show clients multiple properties in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take.
VR is also a perfect tool for interior designers, who can create advanced mock-ups to show their clients without having to invest in costly physical modeling. Unlike two-dimensional representations, a fully immersive VR experience lets designers of all kinds achieve a new level of certainty. It also gives their clients a great feel for the designs they are buying and lets them make changes before any of the physical work begins.
Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology Today
There is little doubt that VR technology is going to impact the consumer market over the next few years. The movement forward in VR technology isn’t happening in a vacuum, and numerous other technologies are making the jump from prototype to real-world product.
Learning about how these newly available technologies can impact the world is important. On September 19th and 20th, in the heart of Vancouver, Extraordinary Future 18 will be showcasing over 60 Canadian technology companies, as three theaters host mind-blowing discussions on the future of tech investment.
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