Exploring the Wild West of the future: Virtual Reality

A new frontier is approaching that has the potential to reshape society forever. Virtual reality is the next level of the technology age. Like the internet, virtual reality has sky sweeping possibilities and will most likely evolve more quickly and many more different ways than we can imagine today. However, just like the internet, virtual reality has many cons as well as pros. Scientists may hail this new world as another step toward utopia, the reality is that human corruption is inescapable. So in order to best utilize this new tool, society must advance with caution and wisdom, instead of repeating the mistakes the public dispersal of the internet created. We have all heard of virtual reality, but what is it? How is it used? Where is it going? What are the implications? In this article we will explore all of these questions and more.

What is virtual reality? Virtual Reality is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real, or imagined, and simulates a user’s physical presence and environment in a way that allows the user to interact with it. This not only includes sight, but also has the potential to include touch, hearing, and smelling. Virtual reality is usually accessed on a computer screen or a special virtual reality headset.

Virtual reality today is mainly used for video games, but it is also utilized for practical purposes as well. Virtual reality technology has been used by Google in their street view, the military to train for combat situations, in medical education to train nurses and doctors as well as help patients heal from PTSD.

Virtual reality in the future could evolve in so many ways. Virtual reality could expand within the entertainment industry to include TV, movies, and sports. Virtual reality could become the next social network. Minecraft is a good example of a user-created world based on a limited number of options. Combine this with virtual reality, better graphics, and shared users, the potential is endless. Plus, the factors of smell, touch, realistic sound, etc. and the popularity could be staggering.

But virtual reality coupled with shared user interface does not have to be limited to entertainment. Virtual reality could be used in education. Imagine being able to take classes in bed. Your avatar is already dressed, you’re already at school, and you have to make minimal effort to do classwork. No need for pens and paper. A keyboard or fingerpad will suffice.

Businesses could also implement virtual reality. Huge, international businesses could use virtual reality to include everyone at the same place. Engineers, scientists, marketers, etc. could all implement virtual reality. Stores could transition to be completely online. Why would you need to go somewhere when you can see, touch, and interact with employees online, and have everything ordered to your front door?

Virtual reality has the potential to change our society. If virtual reality successfully implements some of the above ideas into society, then life will shift even more to the virtual from the physical. Since virtual reality could become so life-like, creative, and potentially useful, it could become highly addicting. While users could potentially create and interact together in virtual reality it still could not totally replicate reality and therefore create damaging isolation between individuals. Virtual reality will heighten the physical sedentary and obesity in our culture. Virtual reality will also heighten the need for instant gratification, short attention spans, and the false sense of control.

While the widespread implementation of virtual reality has yet to be realized, it might not be that far into the future. As our culture progresses into the technological age we must be engaged and thoughtful so that we control our technology instead of letting it control us.

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