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How Can Virtual Reality Evolve Beyond Escapism?

Here’s a true story. A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with a friend and casually mentioned my love of VR, to which she retorted “I don’t really like gaming that much”.  I was simultaneously shocked and horrified, but realised she, like many, see VR as simply another gaming system, much like an Xbox, or a PSP, and of little use to them. True enough, it is early days for the technology, but this is precisely the time that VR should be positioning itself as the multi-function tool that we know it can be. VR is in danger of getting stuck in a rut, and pigeonholed as a simple source of gaming and escapism.

We are now at a technological crossroads, and have the most ground breaking technology already available in our hands, but it would be easy for it to just become a gaming system. So, what is to be done? Can VR ever really be taken as more than just an escapist medium or is it really able to take its place as a mainstream tool for business, communications, and shopping, as well as a source of entertainment?

The power of the Metaverse is growing on a daily basis, but it is being driven by multiple sources. It is as easy to access many parts of the Metaverse via mobile devices or computers, and that is currently essential. Not everybody has access to VR equipment and not everybody is comfortable with wearing it anyway. Compared to a mobile device, which the entire age range can comfortably use, VR equipment is currently a pretty invasive device that can turn out uncomfortable pretty quickly, regardless of the after-market strap fitted.  

VR equipment is also still fairly expensive for what it is – a visual system that allows the user to interact with virtual worlds. While generally more expensive to buy, a mobile device or a computer has a number of different uses and becomes much more of a Swiss Army knife piece of technology. At the moment, there is little ability to use VR for everyday tasks such as banking; some banking apps exist but they are not mainstream, and while there are browser apps, these are not as convenient as using a piece of non-VR equipment. But VR content based on a simple flat screen is a much-reduced experience. VR worlds have been specifically designed to be delivered via an immersive device and to do it in any other way is a bit like taking in the gloriousness of the outside world through a double-glazed window; sure, you can see it, but its not the same as standing in a sunlit forest, and taking in all the sheer wondrousness of it. VR almost fulfils that vision now, and as graphics and headsets get better, will become even more convincing. And that will make every facet of its use better and more lifelike. 

So, the truth is that VR can become more and is already evolving beyond its current niche-like existence, and is becoming more relevant in a number of diverse fields, like:

  • It’s a growing tool in healthcare. The application of virtual reality (VR) in the medical industry was estimated to be worth $2 billion in 2020 and has the potential to grow to as much as $42.84 billion by 2028. To put it another way, the potential applications of virtual reality technology within the realm of healthcare are virtually limitless. This encompasses everything from alleviating pain after surgery to treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through virtual reality exposure treatment (VRET). It is impossible to predict what medical professionals will be able to achieve with the help of this technology because the possibilities are genuinely limitless.
  • It is a strong educational tool. When it comes to educational prospects, virtual reality opens up a whole new universe of possibilities, particularly for people who live in rural regions or who are living in low-income situations. It is anticipated that hands-on training sessions, such as those required for the healthcare, construction, or skilled trades industries, will benefit enormously from the utilisation of virtual reality.
  • Shopping is easy and immersive. The retail business is yet another sector that will be disrupted by virtual reality (VR) in the not-too-distant future as brands get more inventive in their efforts to improve the customer experience. Imagine a world in which you can take advantage of all the benefits of online shopping while also reaping the benefits of the sensory experience of putting things on in person. This is something that, in the future, might become the standard thanks to virtual reality technology.
  • Business can see the benefits. A growing number of businesses are using VR to not only connect with other members of their company but customers and suppliers too. This is due to the fact that Virtual Reality is capable of simulating almost every procedure that can be carried out in the actual world. This is something that many businesses have come to know. This encompasses a wide variety of business-related pursuits, such as customer service, marketing, finance, human resources, production, and many more. It opens the door to the prospect of letting people carry out tasks even when they are not physically there (a concept known as “telepresence”), as well as the opportunity to create and interact with simulated business things that simply could not exist in the actual world.

The fact that VR can be used to satisfactorily carry out these and many more non-gaming tasks shows its worth in the real world, and the fact that it is a strong multi-media tool. Despite that VR is seen as a gaming tool that is essential to its growth; by engaging such a large community as gaming, VR systems become increasingly accepted, and other areas of society – such as those noted above – also start to get interested. And that is just what is happening.

Not only can VR evolve beyond simple escapism, but it is already happening, and if you don’t join the revolution now, you risk being left behind.