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The Magic of (Virtual) Reality

Updated on October 12, 2017

Recent advancements in virtual reality (VR) have revolutionised the gaming and technology industry, enabling interaction on a whole new level. This technology has countless applications in many sectors, from medical training to space exploration and improving cinematic experiences.

VR uses virtual reality headsets and simulation technology to create a three dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored by a person. The images and footage is designed to change when a person wearing VR headsets moves their head, corresponding the VR environment with body movements of the users, ensuring a realistic and enjoyable experience.

Although originally designed for entertainment purposes, VR technology is now being used in several other fields to advance understanding and train people in fields such as medicine and astronomy in a risk free manner.

Medical practitioners have utilised VR technology to train doctors in surgery without using real patients. Instead using VR headsets, students can delve into a virtual surgery environment, reducing the risk to patients by malpractice. VR has also been used in training astronauts whilst they are still on Earth, notably by NASA, which has been using it for over 20 years. Military training also employs the use of VR, using flight simulators to train pilots.

Virtual reality has also played a large role in scientific research, in particular in the field of Archaeology. VR has been a fundamental tool for exploring and mapping settlements, recreating them in a way so that places that may be inaccessible can be mapped virtually. Also, in David Attenborough's programme 'Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur', 360o VR technology was used to recreate a titanosaur, one of the largest dinosaurs to exist.

Despite the clear advantages to using this technology there have been concerns expressed about the safety of this technology. Most virtual reality systems come with consumer warnings including seizures, developmental issues in children, repetitive injury and interference with medical devices.

Overall, VR technology has enabled us to delve deeper into understanding the world around us and advancing entertainment and video gaming to a new level, whilst also aiding scientific research and professional training in a safe environment.

© 2017 Jack Dazley

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