This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo showcased some of the latest developments in virtual reality technology for gaming. While this was certainly exciting, VR has plenty of potential applications beyond the games industry. As VR hardware becomes more affordable and easier to wear and the software continues to improve, the potential applications for other industries are increasing as well. Here are 30 uses for virtual reality that we find particularly interesting:
1. Virtual Tours to Sell Real Estate
Here at floorplanGRP, we’re using VR technology to drive real estate sales via 3D visualizations and virtual reality tours. Potential buyers can move through a furnished rendering of units before construction even begins.
2. Training for the Police and Military
Providing realistic training for police and military personnel is necessary, but can be challenging given the dangerous nature of the work. Virtual reality simulations of situations they may face on the job is a safe alternative to training in the field.
3. Practice for Surgeons
No one wants to think about the possibility of an unpracticed surgeon scrubbing in to their surgery. Instead of practicing on people, surgeons can use VR headsets to train.
4. Teaching Dental Students
Similarly, the idea of having a dentist in training oversee your root canal is nothing short of terrifying. Dental students can train on virtual patients, learning everything from administering anaesthesia to choosing the right drill size.
5. Improving Video Surveillance
With cameras designed to give a 720-degree view (up/down and left to right), those monitoring security cameras could get a complete view of what’s going on by simply moving their head to look around.
6. Attending Virtual Concerts
If your favorite band isn’t touring anywhere near your town, you could stream a show live or watch it later. With cameras throughout the venue, you could pick the best seats in house - or get onstage with the band.
7. Classrooms Without Walls
VR technology can allow students to attend lectures anywhere in the world, learning and collaborating with other students from all over.
8. Traveling the World - From Your Home
In the near future, you might be able to virtually visit museums, national parks, and other tourism destinations.
9. A Better Online Shopping Experience
The 360-degree view provided by online retailers is often not helpful in determining details like the scale of an item. 3D mapping of stores can allow consumers to explore the store, see the items as they appear in store, and skip the crowds and lines.
10. Immersive Journalism Broadcasts
Imagine turning on the news and being able to put yourself right into the middle of world events. Virtual reality could provide 360-degree news narratives and reinvent broadcast journalism.
11. Relaxation for Astronauts
Astronauts on long flights are forced to spend long periods of time in tight spaces with other people, which can get stressful. VR headsets could allow them to virtually escape, alleviating some of their stress.
12. Treatment for PTSD
VR could help veterans with PTSD by virtually reintroducing them to the stressful and traumatic situations they faced during their military service. This therapeutic technique, called exposure therapy, allows patients to confront anxiety-inducing people and situations in a controlled, safe environment.
13. Allowing Architects to Experience Their Own Designs
VR tours aren’t just beneficial to potential buyers - allowing architects to walk through spaces they’ve designed lets them test the usability and make adjustments during the design process.
14. First-Person Film Experiences
The future of movies could very well involve placing the viewer right into the action, allowing them to look and move around as if they were the main character.
15. Enhanced Video Chatting
Integrating VR with services like Facebook Chat or Skype could allow users to create virtual spaces to hang out in, or visit real places together.
16. Touring New Office Spaces
It can be tough to work out seating arrangements and other office plans if you’ve never seen the space before. Taking VR tours of new office spaces would allow managers and facilities coordinators to plan during the construction/remodeling phases, instead of having to wait for the finished product.
17. Attending Conferences and Tradeshows
Industry professionals could attend conferences and tradeshows without taking time off for travel.
18. Immersive College Tours
Colleges could harness VR technology to provide virtual campus tours to international students, or those who want to gauge their interest before traveling for an in-person tour.
19. Time Travel (Well, Sort Of)
Instead of reading about historic events, you could experience them firsthand through simulated reenactments.
20. Test Driving Cars
If you’re looking to buy a new car, you could test drive as many as you want before heading to a car dealership to narrow down your selection.
21. Virtual Reality Art
Artists can create immersive experiences and even entire worlds for viewers, including sound to accompany their visualizations.
22. Helping Kids With Autism
VR headsets can create a calm, low-stimuli environment for kids with autism and other sensory disabilities, helping them learn in an environment that won’t overwhelm them.
23. Graphically Representing Vulnerabilities in Code
Instead of having to comb through lines of code to identify vulnerabilities, VR could graphically represent data. This would make it easier for developers to identify vulnerabilities and enact safeguards against hacking.
24. Making Exercise Machines Fun
Aligning movements with in-game functions, or even just providing interesting scenery could make getting on the treadmill (or other workout equipment) an exciting endeavor rather than a chore.
25. Improving Safety in Manufacturing
Allowing workers to control robots instead of operating dangerous machinery themselves would eliminate workplace injuries in factories. VR headsets would give workers a close-up view of the factory floor, making it easier to control the robots.
26. Meeting Online Dating Matches
VR-enhanced chatting would allow people to get to know their online dating matches in a safe environment before going on a first date.
27. Campaigning for Politicians
Creating VR experiences for voters would allow candidates to reach potential supporters even if they didn’t attend rallies or speeches.
28. Training for Public Speaking
It’s normal to be nervous about speaking to a large audience, but the only way to get over those nerves is practice. Allowing speakers to practice in front of virtual audiences creates a low-stakes way to improve public speaking skills.
29. Recreating Crime Scenes
Prosecutors and defense attorneys sometimes have to recreate crime scenes for jurors, relying on their ability to understand evidence and correctly imagine crime scenes. Creating virtual representations of crime scenes for the courtroom would help both sides tell their story.
30. Convincing People to Save for Retirement
In a recent experiment, researchers put young adults in a virtual environment where they could see a much older version of themselves, and then asked them to allocate money for retirement to a hypothetical savings account. Those who saw their older virtual counterparts allocated twice as much money for retirement savings as the control group.