The first time I ever tried virtual reality ended with a bruised leg.
I put on the Samsung VR and was instantly in a new world— a virtual one. I was on a suspended rope bridge over a canyon of some sort. I turned my head from side to side, and the view was so convincing that I lost balance and tripped, hitting my knee on the edge of a nearby table.
Tip: clear the space around you before you put on a VR headset.
Anyways, I was able to walk the length of the bridge, and then tried a different game set in a jungle. It amazed me how realistic the experience was since I was in a 360 game where I can see and move in any direction.
Which leaves the question: Can virtual reality ever replace actual reality?
Virtual reality can be useful for several reasons. It can be used for entertaining purposes, like watching a movie or playing a game in a virtual world. Or, to try out new things that you wouldn’t normally get a chance to, like skydiving or swimming with sharks.
It can also be useful for economic reasons, like in the real estate business. Imagine you’re moving to a new city and you want to purchase a house. I’m sure everyone knows that pictures can be deceiving, and you wouldn’t want to buy a house just based on pictures you saw of it. This is where VR comes in. A real estate company could create a virtual house that mirrors a real house a customer is interested in. The customer would then be able to ‘explore’ that house and decide whether it suits them or not.
Most importantly, virtual reality can help in job training. Last year, my class went on a field trip to a Career Day exhibition, and one of the activities included putting on a VR headset and virtually welding.
An intern of any kind can get a realistic experience of what a specific job will be like, and it can help prepare them. A surgeon can complete a surgery, a teacher can practice teaching or public speaking, and a firefighter can face a ‘real’ emergency. Another cool way to use virtual reality would be to help a lawyer explore a crime scene to help him in his or her job.
“Virtual reality is the ‘ultimate empathy machine.’ These experiences are more than documentaries. They’re opportunities to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”
~ Chris Milk, CEO of Within
Although virtual reality can be useful, I don’t think it can ever replace actual reality. There are some things that need to be done in real life, like eating or sleeping. If someone is sick, they would need a real doctor to treat them; if someone is in danger, they will need a real person to save them.
Virtual reality won’t be able to completely take over our world because people with jobs will still be needed. Even communication needs to be done in real time. Virtually talking to someone isn’t the same as a face- to- face conversation— you have to actually be there to feel their emotions and see their expressions.
If we were to depend on virtual reality, everyone would just sit at home all day and no one would have the skills for communication anymore. It’s kind of like the movie Wall-E, if you’ve watched it.
So is virtual reality cool? Definitely. But I don’t think its cool enough for us to completely depend on it and forget our real world.