Virtual Reality – there’s more to it than meets the eye! Most of us have used a VR headset and although the technology might not be fully there yet, the most common use for this is gaming. But this is changing rapidly. There is a whole community of VR program designers and developers working on improving people’s quality of life. They hope to bring us places we have never dreamed of going, do things we thought impossible and give us different experiences by putting us in someone else’s shoes.
VR could be applied in many ways to help society. We are now using VR to help with mental health, revisit crime scenes and even to teach students languages. These scenarios might be something straight out of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Minority Report or Star Trek but these cases are being used as we speak.
VR Can Improve Mental Health
There are hundreds of mobile apps like Headspace for meditation, sleep and easing stress, which have a positive impact on your mood, focus and work. But these apps come under the umbrella of wellbeing. When the mental health issues are more severe, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction, virtual reality has been proven an effective tool.
These VR apps don’t claim to cure any mental illness but instead helps users cope. The Harvard Youth Health researchers are looking into how web-based applications can lower adolescent depression symptoms. Working with Limbix, a Californian company which creates virtual reality content to improve mental health, the researchers at Harvard designed an experiment to train users to embrace a strategy used by mental health professionals called “growth mindset”. This strategy allows patients to see that their abilities can unfold through hard work and persistence. This experiment also allows users to overcome depression by showing them that they are not alone and helps them work through their feelings and struggles.
VR can help criminal cases
The capability to immerse yourself in a virtual environment isn’t anything new. VR is used in the tourism industry to take virtual tours of landmarks, museums and hotels. This sort of immersion is what several law experts are trying to implement in courtrooms.
Using VR to prevent a crime like in Minority Report is not quite there yet but a Chinese courtroom has made a significant move by allowing the use of VR during a trial. VR was used to reconstruct the scene of the crime and show the jury what really happened.
Another group of people who are bringing VR to the courtrooms are the researchers at Stafford University, UK. They designed a program which brings jurors to a crime scene while being guided by the attorney. This sort of program is particularly interesting for courtrooms as it will give the jury a full picture of the events.
VR can teach you a new language
Finding the time and people to learn a new language can make it a daunting task, especially as an adult. Additionally, Some of us might feel embarrassed mispronouncing words. VR can change all of this by using realistic scenarios while practicing on your own.
Immersion is crucial when learning a language. People usually spend months in a country talking to locals to gain a grasp of the language. With VR this experience can be matched. Mondly VR App allows users can have conversations with virtual avatars, in real situations, like getting a taxi ride, checking into a hotel or shopping. Putting the user in these realistic situations will boost their self-confidence and improve their pronunciation and vocabulary.
VR is great tool in improving people’s quality of life. Using virtual reality can be used in more ways than one. The potential is endless as it is capable of transporting users to a different world.
My next blog will be about how Augmented Reality can help society. If you have any examples of unusual ways virtual reality or augmented reality can be used be sure to contact us!