Virtual Reality, ‘VR’ For Short – The Next Tech Frontier

Virtual reality. For now it resides in the realm of cutting-edge technologies, the limits tested by leading scientists and researchers with each passing day. This emergent force, however, is so much more than a passé plaything. The potential of such a transformative technology will shape the tech landscape and the evolution of interaction for decades to come.

In a recent Inquisitr article about the virtual reality gaming revolution, we talked about the future of gaming. Creating a more realistic gaming experience is an instinctive application of VR tools, especially considering what is currently possible. And why shouldn’t it be? Strap on an Oculus Rift and you can traverse labyrinths, operate on a patient as an incompetent surgeon, even defuse a bomb with the help of your friends.

Accessories complement the experience as well; why play a VR game where you’re running in place on a carpet from the bad guy when you can actually feel like you’re running? That is the promise of the Virtuix Omni, a treadmill that makes the sensation of true movement even more realistic.

As Kishore Ganesh reports in UploadVR, the accessories market for virtual reality has only just begun. He details the Omni in his report as well as a host of other solutions for portable computing (look Ma, no wires), VR stationary bikes that can augment your exercise routine and make cardio in February a scenic ride, hand and arm, full body tracking, and the future of VR accessories in general.

Virtual Reality (VR) is more than just a plaything. The future implications are truly inspiring. [Photo by iStock]
The Oculus Rift is one of the most, if not the most innovative and prominent VR headsets on the market. And it started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012. A Facebook-acquired entity since March, 2014, Oculus VR is being utilized by the social networking giant to create a virtual reality-centric gaming platform, according to International Business Times. This could prove a formidable entry into the VR gaming sphere, as Facebook currently has a user base of 1.7 billion people, according to Statista, a well-sourced statistics engine.

The apparent boom in VR gaming isn’t where this technology stops though; this isn’t a statement to be taken lightly. Imagine what virtual reality could hold for humanity in 10- or 20-year’s time? Robotic surgery performed from thousands of miles away, psychotherapy for phobia reduction that involves being confronted by hundreds of VR spiders, touring your next tropical piece of real estate before you even set foot inside. The implications are practically endless.

This also doesn’t take into account the continued miniaturization and exponential increase in power performance in the world of computing. In the coming decades we may view 2016 as a year of bulky and massively obsolete equipment, especially when your dose of virtual reality could consist of neuron-sized computers directly interfacing with your brain internally, as promised by Ray Kurzweil, futurist and founder of Singularity University.

Eventual advances in computing could allow virtual reality to seamlessly interact internally with the neurons of the user’s brain. [Photo by iStock]
This is no joke. Kurzweil has made predictions that have borne fruit many times in the past. In SingularityHUB, a Singularity University publication, Kurzweil cites the exponential rate of change in technology as the basis for the many of his claims, noting genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI as the three technologies that will define our future. Virtual reality fits within this umbrella quite nicely.

While some may consider the realm of virtual reality as just another tech fad, soon to be uprooted by something newer and better, it is the scientific potential and real-world stories that should allay even the most steadfast skeptic. In an ABC News report which pointed to a breakthrough study by Duke University published in Nature, a group of severe paraplegics were given the chance to walk again using VR technology and an advanced exoskeleton. In addition, after the experimental therapies, some patients even regained very limited movements in their affected limbs as a result.

When coupled with VR technology, exoskeletons like the ReWalk, built by Yasukawa Electric Co. of Japan, could assist paraplegics with recovery and quality of life. [Photo by Koji Sasahara/AP Images]
Where virtual reality will take us in the years and decades ahead remains to be seen. Yet with all of the awe-inspiring current applications and scientific horizons, VR may prove to strengthen our species in a myriad of ways.

[Photo by iStock]

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