Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation or a recreated form of real life; its purpose is to completely immerse you in these artificial surroundings. Virtual reality is achieved by a user wearing a headset that overrides your sense of sight and sound.
There are funny videos circling the web of people getting too involved when wearing the headsets leading to them falling face first to the ground
- Enhancing imaginary reality; gaming and cinema
- Treating patients with emotional issues, like PTSD
- Improving training; flight simulators for pilots and digital cadavers for medical students
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that creates layers of computer generated enhancements and places them on top of existing reality. The reason for this is to make the item or destination more interactive and add meaning to it. Currently, AR is achieved from the use of mobile devices and televisions. The worldwide success of the infamous Pokémon GO App is a great example; where users would use a real-time map of where they currently were via their mobile device, to locate hidden virtual cartoon characters. Nintendo didn’t anticipate the popularity of this game and neither did the world. However, after the millions of downloads, it got people and companies into thinking – how can we use this?
- Displaying scores, logos and player movements onto the pitch during sports games
- Shopping, identifying shops surrounding you and providing their services, working hours, ratings etc.
These new forms of technology are not just being seen for gaming purposes, but as a useful tool that can be implemented into a core business strategy. This is because of the benefits including, improved: employee engagement, retention and customer experience. Internet giants Facebook and Google, have highlighted their interest in VR and AR, however they have identified many issues with this new technology:
To combat these problems, Facebook and Google have invested billions to enhance these systems. This is so they can ensure that, soon, VR and AR will be integrated into modern life. The interest and improvement has been identified; the next issue addressed is how to make VR and AR appeal to the masses. One key idea discussed, resembling the television and cinema hits: Black Mirror and The Matrix Trilogy, is our human need to capture everything and that we try to relive it, or want to escape from reality altogether.
This can be used to create empathy; A United Nations VR documentary called Clouds over Sidra gave us a first-person look at the life of a 12-year-old Syrian refugee. After a screening, it brought in 70% more donations than planned. The Producer of the film, Chris Milk stated that VR ‘connects humans to other humans in a profound way I've never seen in any other form of media, and it can change people's perception of each other.’
This can be used to ‘enhance’ our memories; Wareable.com located a company that creates 360 videos of weddings. Using the headset will allow the user to fully immerse themselves in that day, which provides a small nugget of nostalgia. However, what if we record everything in our lives 360? It will only be a matter of time until the technology is advanced enough for us to allow ourselves to immerse ourselves in our own past world. The bigger question is whether we can deal with that.
The final theory is that reality may not be what people want; they’re tired of working 9-5 in a job that they hate, they despise their overweight body and cannot afford to go on fancy holidays. So, if an option to escape, and create the life you want easily, becomes available then why would they want to return to reality. At the end of the day human beings are emotional creatures and ‘In troubling times, alcohol consumption goes up. People are always looking for an escape from something, so it's totally likely that will be the case for some people.’ (Aron Hjartarson, 2016).
The future can go two ways;
The question is, what does humanity want?