More Than a Game: Three Practical - and Emotional - Uses for Virtual Reality

 Photo by  Denys Nevozhai  on  Unsplash

Ask 10 people about Virtual Reality, and 9 of them will immediately think of gamers wearing headsets. (The other one is likely a realtor who associates VR with 360 virtual tours for home listings). Not to slam gaming and real estate applications, but VR is so much more! Here are three amazing uses for VR that are sure to keep growing:

 

1. TRAVEL AND TOURISM

At first, the ability to virtually visit a place in 360 seems counterproductive to those in the hospitality industry who are trying to attract new clientele. They might well be thinking, "Why would someone come here if they've already experienced my resort?" But rather than giving too much away, a virtual visit just whets the appetite. Think about it: when you're offered a miniature spoon-sized sample at the ice cream shop, are you fully satisfied? No way - you know you're gonna go all in and buy the super-deluxe sundae. A VR Tour for a destination hotel, resort, or spa is like a full-color brochure on steroids. Not convinced? Check out the amazing 360 experiences in Mina Bradley's article for VeeR VR, Virtual Reality in Hospitality Industry: Home Away From Home in 360.  After drooling over those amazing hotels, tell me you don't want to book the quickest flight to Spain, Saigon, or Switzerland!

 

2. HEALTHCARE

Way back in 2015, Tech Republic featured an excellent article called 10 Ways Virtual Reality is Revolutionizing Medicine and Healthcare by Erin Carson. The diversity of uses for VR in this industry ranges from exposure therapy and treatment for PTSD, to surgical training and brain damage assessment. One of the most emotionally impactful applications has to do with giving new, immersive opportunities to those who are disabled or housebound. Check out this awesome video about a man with cerebral palsy who was given the ability to "ski" for the first time in 32 years. 

Evan W. Gadda is a student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Musical Theatre. The team at @One Digital Media within the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center was able to bring a virtual reality experience to him with the hopes to bring this to more people.

 

3. EVENTS

Pro sporting events and concerts come with a hefty price tag, leaving many dedicated fans unable to experience them in person. Sure, TV has been covering these kinds of events for years, but VR adds an immersive dimension. A handful of production companies like NextVR are using 360 technology to bring exciting events to a new batch of spectators. In a 2015 article by John Gaudiosi for Fortune Magazine, NextVR co-founder is quoted as saying, “Imagine joining your favorite NFL team during training camp, or being in the dugout during a MLB All-Stars game. This isn’t just about taking fans to the best seat in the arena, this is about taking them places they could never go before.”

Ultimately, taking people to new places is what VR is all about. 


It’s a technology that can bring people places they might not otherwise reach. A high school senior can tour a college without trekking across the country. A wheelchair-bound music fan can get in the front row at a rock concert. And a relocating home buyer can view a new house from the comfort of their old one.
— JOHN PATRICK PULLEN in Time Magazine, January 8, 2016