What is Virtual Reality REALLY good for?
It is known that Virtual Reality has many applications and uses beyond gaming. But since there is a lot going on at the same time, I will focus on the hottest, latest, and most perceptible VR applications that are changing the industry, or intend to do so very soon.
There is a wide variety of innovations and perhaps dozens or hundreds of new startups building and developing new virtual reality applications. But even though is difficult to keep track of all of them, I will make a short list of those that haven’t been mentioned yet in past articles and that are also very interesting.
Latest 2016 Virtual Reality Applications
Like any other business, some projects in the VR industry reach success while others fail and are left forgotten. We wish the best of luck to every entrepreneur and all their nice and interesting VR innovations. Here are the hottest ones of this year so far:
1. SEAT Uses VR to Reduce Production Time by 30%
The Spanish automobile manufacturer has technicians wearing VR headsets to watch their designs and prototypes without needing tons of paper or 3D prototypes. SEAT claims virtual reality helps them optimize the production process and accurately visualize the product they are going to manufacture.
It can take 3 years from the initial images to the first car on the streets, and during the process, SEAT was able to make more than 800 improvements in the virtual stage. This cut in half the number of prototypes required before making a car, having a positive impact on the final price.
2. The Military Uses VR to Train Soldiers
It is not a secret anymore, the US Military has been using virtual reality for a long time to train their pilots, soldiers, marines, and now it’s extending this program for maintenance tasks as well.
At the Modern Day Marine Expo in Virginia, executives from Boing Defense showed off a system that uses motion sensors, an HTC Vive headset, and controllers with a trigger and sensing pad. The program teaches service members how to go through aircraft repair jobs.
3. Drummond Uses Virtual Reality for Getting Better at FT Shooting
Detroit Pistons center, Andre Drummond, is reported to be using VR headsets to improve his throw at the free throw line.
“I’ve been doing it three times every week. I have a system (at the team’s Auburn Hills practice facility) and I have one at my house, too. So every day after practice, I’ll go home or watch it here.”
So he uses this technology to watch himself throwing over and over again from many different angles to learn from its own mistakes.
4. Duke University Uses VR to Help Paraplegics Regain Leg Function
Duke University performed a 12-month study of 8 paraplegic patients and results suggest that virtual reality can help restore mobility in patients suffering from a chronic spinal cord injury. The study appeared on Scientific Reports and claims that by stimulating parts of the brain associated with leg movement through an avatar on the VR headset, patients were able to make leg movements.
5. Psychologist Skip Rizzo Uses VR to Treat PTSD
U.S. Marine Chris Merkle returned from Afghanistan with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and sought the help of Skip Rizzo at the University Of Southern California Institute Of Creative Technologies. Skip Rizzo uses virtual reality to immerse his patients into the environments that originated the PTSD rather than just relying on their imagination.
6. Firsthand and Scientists Control Pain with Virtual Reality
Scientists at the University of Washington along with Firsthand developed virtual reality games that reduce the pain of wound care and other hospital procedures. Patients become so engaged in the VR experience that they barely realize that they are having a clinical procedure. Patients feel much less anxious and pain is dramatically reduced.
7. Six Flags Roller Coasters Add More Fun with Virtual Reality
In case roller coasters weren’t exciting enough, Six Flags will soon repurpose nine of its roller coasters to include VR headsets. The ride will feature both the real excitement of riding a roller coaster and the immersive creativity potential of virtual worlds showed in VR headsets.
8. Hundreds of Centers Use VR to Train Police Officers in the US
These centers use virtual reality to train officers so they can shoot more accurately and also help them decide if they must shoot or not. Police officers deal with real-life dangerous situations in these VR experiences, and they even receive small electrical shocks if they are shot during the simulation. Many claim these methods prevent officers from killing more innocent people.
9. VR Help People Process Traumatic Events
VR experiences can help patients overcome difficult traumatic events like sexual assaults or kidnaps. Australian concept designer, Robin Potanin, helped a young woman develop a virtual reality “game” about a woman that survives raping, and she claims that the experience is “therapeutic, or cathartic.” Ms. Potanin was the victim of a sexual assault about 12 years ago on her way home from work.
“You start the game a year after it’s happened, so you’re handling things pretty well, but you play the game going backwards in time. As you go backwards through time to the moment of the attack, you have less and less control, until the attack itself where you have no control over what’s happening to you, so it’s really, really visceral and it’s very powerful.”
10. Virtual Reality Can Treat Phantom Pains Effectively
Yes, phantom pains really exist. Masahiko Sumitani, head of the department of pain and palliative medicine at the University of Tokyo, led a research team to treat phantom limb pain and achieved success. Phantom pain is a condition in which amputees still feel pain or uncomfortable itches from the body parts that they had removed.
“We’ve found a mechanism through which pain can be reduced when patients are able to get an image of moving (their absent limbs) in their minds. This is something new”
Patients use virtual reality to see and move their lost limbs in VR and they move accordingly with the intact parts of their arms. These images take root in patient’s minds allowing pain or anxiety to be considerably reduced.
Do you know more new VR applications? Share them with us in the comments.