Virtual reality involves the use of senses to interact with and manipulation a computer-based external environment. Magnetic tracking is used to measure the movement in the environment. In future developments, ultrasonic waves will be used to measure the movements. Currently, the technology has been used widely in a myriad of fields. In the medical field, it has been used to treat phobias as well as offering medical training (Vince 2004). Also in the education sector, the use of virtual laboratories and virtual museums has been achieved. Military training and simulation have also been ventured through this technology while in the industrial sector automotive testing has been made easy by using virtual reality technology. In clothing, industry shopping is facilitated through virtual reality. In entertainment, the technology has been used in computer games. Future developments will see the advanced use of virtual reality in the above-mentioned fields and others (Dixon, 2011).
Virtual reality in entertainment
Virtual reality has played a major role in entertainment. In games for example, and particular computer games and video games virtual reality has provided users with some of the best engaging games (Burdea & Coiffet, 2003). The current demand for computer games shows the extent of the influence of virtual reality. These games have proved to be engaging and even addictive to the users and the evidence is in a person’s strong reaction to different situations. The development of video games has also been attributed to virtual reality. The earlier videogames were less engaging. Over the years these games have improved in level of engagement. An example is Spectre supreme that runs in Macintosh and IBM PC that allows multiplayer use through the network.
Virtual reality also plays an important role in sports and fitness. By creating realistic simulation high-level engagement of indoor exercise is enhanced. These simulations help to improve a player’s performance in the actual sport through the formation of useful mental strategies. Virtual reality concepts can also be used to engage an individual physically for example racquetball simulation, which is executed through Autodesk cyberspace system. This gives an individual platform to develop both mental and physical fitness and hence form a basic entertainment. The future sport and fitness virtual reality environment is promising and a lot is expected to improve ranging from the high performance of the devices to the optimized level of engagement (Lainema 2009). It is also expected that problems associated with virtual environments will be objectively addressed which is scene complexity, tactile feedback, rendering rates, and quality sound. Generally, in the future the best graphics and sounds will be integrated into video games as well as simple command entry in the case of computer games. With the advent of Sega’s Virtua Virtual Reality goggles and release of high power graphics processors for gaming machines the future of virtual reality is bright.
Virtual reality in industry
The virtual reality concept is also playing a significant role in the improvement of the industrial sector. For instance, in the clothing industry and in particular the online clothing industry most companies are tending to virtual environments to optimize their sales and profits (Shumaker 2007). The current apparel industry has minimal use of virtual reality technology; however, the arrival of the so-called virtual changing room will largely facilitate the improvements. This will involve scanning the body of clients and then the image will be projected on what clothes would look like on the person. This will allow people to try clothes in the comfort of their homes.
The automobile industry has also adapted the virtual reality concept. The virtual prototyping is currently the most important concept in the automotive industry. The use of CAD software and databases has proved necessary in the optimal design of automobiles. The user has stereoscopic access to the database whereby a 3-dimensional model of desired automotive can be seen as if it is it was actually in front of you. Interaction with the model is therefore more realistic. Future developments will see even more use of virtual reality. Automotive testing will allow optimized and easy prior automotive tests for safety and serviceability. The Mitsubishi Live Drive project will allow virtual drivers to control a real car on a real test course. This will improve customer relations by bringing test drives to their homes.
Virtual reality in education
Virtual reality can also be used as an educational tool. Since technology involves a high level of engagement, the students are guaranteed a deeper understanding of their subjects. Currently, learning can be done through realistic simulation. Children with disabilities can be taught motor skills through virtual reality. Through realistic simulation, blind and deaf children can have improved mobility. In physics for example, experiments can be carried out in a simulated virtual reality lab whereby the students have control of the properties of the objects in practice and they can have a 3-dimensional view of the objects. In social studies and history students can have a realistic simulation of past events for example world war 1 or virtual tours where students virtually travel abroad to see historical sites and learn everything about them without leaving a room (Taylor 1997). In biological sciences, students can dissect without actually killing animals or using expensive equipment. The future of virtual reality in education is awesome. Drastic changes in the way learning will take place is exciting.
Largely, education will see the improvement and expansive use of virtual reality. Virtual laboratories will be more sophisticated and the level of interaction is expected to be very high. Through this virtual reality will be a major step in the achievement of an ‘ideal learning environment, which is focused on the student rather than the teacher. Since the level of interaction or immersion will be increased and there will be no distraction in learning and students become fully focused and thus help conquer any unruly behavior. Virtual reality will make students cheerful and smarter.
Virtual reality in medicine
Virtual reality has also been widely used in the medical field. For instance, in medical education anatomy is taught in a virtual reality environment. Realistic simulation in 3D enables exploration or visualization of organs at any angle. This allows students and clinicians to have a deeper understanding of important physiological principles. Surgical simulation and planning are also done in a virtual environment. A randomized trial using virtual reality trainer (Minimal Invasive Surgery Trainer) is used to train learners on laparoscopic skills. Planning of surgical and neuro-surgical procedures is done in a virtual environment. Virtual reality systems are used since they can integrate different scanned images to provide an interactive and simple 3D projection. Virtual reality has seen a reduction in the use of animals in technical training in surgery since a cheaper alternative simulated process can be done in a virtual reality environment (Edgar, 2003).
Virtual endoscopy is also conceptualized in virtual reality. Since endoscopic procedures have proved to have adverse effects on patients, the advent of virtual endoscopic procedures will provide solutions to these problems. Simulation of the affected organs will be done and then 3D models of the organs are projected. This will reduce greatly the costs and risks involved in the current procedures (Edgar, 2003).
Neuro- Psychological Assessment and Rehabilitation is currently available in the virtual environment. It is expected that the use will increase in future use in cognitive rehabilitation and empowerment in psychotherapy. In the future also dynamic models in a virtual environment will be used to illustrate how organs and systems behave at different conditions for example diseased or normal or even when subjected to external forces like cuts or burns and so on (Edgar, 2003).
Virtual reality is one of the instruments that have been used to transform the world in the fields of entertainment, medicine, and automotive. The current assessment in various sectors shows that there is a need to employ virtual reality. Virtual reality technology will dominate future technological advancements in most industries. This calls for everyone to gather as much knowledge on virtual reality as one can to facilitate a quicker embracement of the technology. The current use of virtual reality can be considered as a very useful tool in entertainment, education medical diagnosis, and widespread industrial use. Virtual reality is no doubt the next big thing after the invention of computers.
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Dixon, P. (2011). Futurewise. London: Profile Books.
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Shumaker, R. (2007). Virtual reality. New York: Springer
Taylor, J. (1997). “The Emerging Geographies of Virtual Worlds.” Geographical Review 87 (2), 172—92.
Vince, J. (2004). Introduction to virtual reality. London : Springer