How Virtual Reality is Changing the Real World

From shopping to surgery, this remarkable technology is enhancing the way we live now.
Virtual reality (VR) draws you into an experience like no other medium can, immersing you in a 360-degree, interactive world. As the technology has improved, VR has grown more popular—and it’s starting to enhance the ways we live now. From shopping to surgery, here are a few ways this technology may improve our lives.

How You Work

Working in a cubicle can be kind of depressing and may actually lower your productivity. But what if you could feel like you’re working from the beach? VR company vSpatial has created a personalized virtual workspace, so you can customize your backdrop, create and move app screens wherever you want, and interact with several programs at once. With all the different scenery options, a virtual workspace definitely beats staring at the motivational poster hanging in your cubicle.

If you don’t work in an office but want to know what it’s like (more or less), try Job Simulator. It’s a game where you pretend to work at different locations, such as an office, auto repair center, or convenience store.

Job Training

Every employer prepares its workers for their day-to-day tasks, and some are using VR to set concrete expectations. Walmart, for example, recently purchased 17,000 Oculus Go VR Headsets to help train new employees across the U.S.

Speaking of cooking, the ChefU simulator provides a realistic chef experience down to seasoning, cooking, and plating meals for virtual customers. Food is expensive, so being able to practice cooking a dish virtually could make it easier to learn without wasting food.

Other companies, like KFC, are also using VR to train their workers, and they definitely win the creativity award for this weird, somewhat terrifying, chicken-frying escape game, “The Hard Way.”

Even doctors are finding ways to incorporate VR into their jobs. Most aspiring physicians practice on cadavers to gain experience before performing surgery on a live patient. But this training is expensive and only affords one opportunity to get the procedure right. That’s where FundamentalVR wants to change things. It’s developed technology that combines virtual reality and haptics (technology that mimics your sense of touch) to create what they’re calling “The Flight Simulator for Surgeons.” Using a VR headset and touch controller, you’ll perform surgery on a virtual patient that looks and feels real.

Museum Exhibits

Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to fly into space. Imagine hearing her story directly from the source. That’s exactly what you can do at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. Using Microsoft HoloLens headsets, Dr. Jemison walks you through her journey and those of other prominent women who took part in the U.S. Space Program.

Other museums are testing similar technology, known as augmented reality, for educational purposes, too. The Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. uses it to re-skin and animate skeletons on a smartphone or tablet, bringing history to life.

Shopping

Online shopping has come a long way, but it has yet to replace going to the store. Returns and exchanges are expensive for retailers. They’re also time-consuming for customers. So it makes sense that companies are turning to VR for help. Trillenium, a company that specializes in digital solutions for retailers, created a service that helps you see how a shoe will look on your foot without having to try it on. Simply open the app, point your phone at your feet, and see in real time how the shoe fits.

The Real World

It’s fun to pretend to be a chef, learn about famous women in space, or train for a new job in a lifelike environment. But it’s important to remember that the real world is still…real. As amazing as VR technology is, we should take off our headsets once in a while and go outside.

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