More Than Porn and Gaming: How Does Virtual Reality Affect Major Industries Worldwide
In 2018, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One was all the rage in cinemas worldwide. Having to live on a dying planet, humanity escapes the reality into the fantastic world of virtual reality software, OASIS. In a world where people choose to live their lives on a digital platform, controlling the VR software means having the biggest power. That power struggle is one of the central motifs in the movie. The other one is the value of real life in itself. You may wonder what does science fiction adventure film have to do with the world as we know it right now? Spielberg’s movie was a box office hit not just because of spectacular visual effects and an entertaining storyline. Abundant in easter eggs and cultural references, it was quite relatable while presenting the future in a less scary way than, let’s say, Black Mirror.
Ready Player One is a fiction. The world you live in today, however, is not. Virtual reality undergoes continuous changes and keeps developing rapidly. What was fiction 70 years ago, keeps changing the world nowadays. It hadn’t started from gaming, and it won’t end on it, either. Here’s what you need to know about VR and how it is affecting major industries of the modern world.
Let’s go back in time to the 1970s. Before the commercial market, it was the military which adopted VR technology first. 50 years ago, people were making their first steps in virtual reality – more precisely, during military training or flight simulations. The input gained from VR sessions proved to be invaluable. A head-mounted display (HMD) and a pair of data gloves enabled military staff to interact and learn in a safe, virtual environment. Nowadays, VR technology is used in three primary military services: ground, air, and navy forces. Why is it so versatile? VR can be used in major fields regarding military training, that is: environmental experience, vehicle simulation, and medical training. Traditional boot camps were a good starting point for new soldiers but even the most experienced personnel were not prepared for extreme weather conditions before deployment. What’s more, soldiers don’t have to get into a physical vehicle to learn how to operate fighter planes, ground vehicles, or even submarines. Additionally, military personnel can be put into virtual, war-like scenarios, and undergo realistic medical training. This wouldn’t be possible in traditional training procedures, and VR technology makes the whole process safe and effective. As such, VR is considered to be the (not so distant) past, present, and the future of military training.
Statistics from 2018 show that in America, the porn industry can amass from $6 billion to $15 billion, or even $97 billion in annual revenue. The actual numbers may never be known since the adult business operates partially in the market’s grey areas. However, the demand is exceptionally high, and the needs and fantasies of adult sites users are limitless. After all, what’s the best way to improve people’s sexual experiences than giving them the most realistic sensation possible? Hence, the concepts of cybersex and VR porn emerged. While cybersex is something known to people, it can still improve in many ways. Imagine being in a long-distance relationship. The sense of longing for your second half is unbearable. You’d order a sex toy from a site like The Adult Toy Shop and get your trusty HMD set. Then, in the privacy of your home, you’d have a realistic sexual experience with your partner, and your end of the day would be much less lonely. VR porn is another step the erotic industry can’t wait to take. It is believed that VR porn will be the number one product once it launches successfully. First, it has to overcome technological difficulties like camera angles or background, to make the experience ever so realistic. When that happens, those cheesy HD clips will be old news.
Even though we’re far away from the global VR network on a scale similar to that from Ready Player One, that gap is closing fast. If you’ve ever considered purchasing a VR set, you probably know how expensive it is, and you’re probably familiar with brands like Oculus Rift, PSVR, or HTC Vive. VR contributed greatly to the creation of new generation computer games, allowing players worldwide to have an immersive, first-person gaming experience. The range of games adapted to VR technology is vast already and continues to grow: from combat games, auto racing, puzzle-solving, to acrobatic flying. VR technology took the gaming industry by the storm. It’s available on all the major electronic devices: PCs and laptops, smartphones, and game consoles. VR elevates gaming to another level, continuing to amass stellar reviews and fans who swear by it over traditional gaming.
You probably remember that VR helps military personnel during medical training. However, medical VR is fairly new when it comes to patient treatment. Even so, it looks extremely promising already. VR is used to help patients with pain, anxiety, or PTSD. Studies show that VR successfully distracts patients from their painful stimuli and decreases their pain levels. It’s likely that in the future, women in labor will opt for an HMD set, and not epidural. What’s more, some rehabilitation centers use VR to help their patients during physical therapy. It appears that putting a gamified spin on traditional rehabilitation methods speeds up recovery in patients who survived a traumatic brain injury. VR is changing healthcare for both patients and medical professionals. Let’s get back to that medical training. Recent research showed that VR-trained surgeons can outperform their traditionally trained colleagues by 230%. This immersive experience allows doctors to perfect their skills in a risk-free environment, which translates into real-life competences. And that’s not all! There are programs that allow physicians to experience life as an elderly or disabled person. While doctors are often accused of their lack of relatability, putting them in the shoes of their “patients” will surely develop one of their most important traits – empathy.
If you look closely, you’ll see there’s much more to VR than gaming and adult entertainment. It continues to seep into the world’s most important industries and is expected to expand to other sectors as well. Just like in Ready Player One, VR creates a place of entertainment where you can escape anytime you want. However, it doesn’t shut people off of their real lives – at least not yet. Instead, it continues to influence them indirectly through services they rely on. It’s difficult to say if it’s something humanity has to worry about. For now, virtual reality is here to stay, and its future looks bright.