As a millennial (whatever that term means), it’s rare to think about how much technology has progressed because millennials are a part of the progression of technology and don’t care so much for the course of it. Instead, we are more interested in moving along with it. It is also in a sense difficult to really grasp the evolution of technology as a millennial because most of us are really involved in what is current to our time.
One of the more recent technological innovations is Virtual Reality. VR is essentially an innovation where people can use headsets in order to visually (and sometimes physically) experience a different reality from the one you are currently experiencing (x). VR is used a lot for gaming and some companies have even added motion sensors to install inside the room so that your body can become a part of the VR experience. People are also able to experience what it’s like to climb Mount Everest for example, and enjoy the view, while sitting on their couch in New Jersey. The most basic form of virtual reality is the Google cardboard headset that allows you to use your phone for VR while looking at it through the cardboard lens (x). The newest form of VR experience will be released by Sony in October for the Play Station 4 (x).
Now, there is another side to VR besides gaming and nice views that really make you question what the implications are of experiencing a virtual world. Will VR have a negative impact on social relations and is this just another step for our world to be completely computerized? Or will it die down like 3D? VR has taken steps to completely transform mundane activities such as cooking or dining at a restaurant. For instance, people are now able to learn how to cook with VR even though most people will agree that it isn’t anything close to the real thing. But what if it eventually does become like the real thing? In Ibiza, headsets are handed to customers in some of the restaurants so that they could experience a different world while eating their food (x). They could be under water while eating their meal for example. VR also allows you to work. Yes, you read that correctly, work. With their job simulator, you’re able to work at a convenience store as a cashier or work in a cubicle. With the cooperation of NASA, astronauts and people will be able to virtually experience what it’s like to be on Mars or the moon.
VR has the ability to revolutionize how we learn skills and train for careers. Military training would be experienced through a VR simulator in order to make it safer for soldiers. Medical students are currently able to study surgeries that were recorded with VR. Doctors can practice new surgeries with VR in a controlled and safe environment as well. It would be interesting to see how VR job trainees perform in comparison to regular trainees. Our immediate response would be to think that VR trainees will fail once they are put to the actual task. But what if instead, they are much calmer and more confident after VR training?
With VR, history enthusiasts can experience important historical moments and feel as if they are physically there. You can visit the Louvre or the Statue of Liberty from your couch. Will this overcome a person’s need to travel the world and experience things for themselves? Maybe not for a person who has experienced travelling but perhaps this will be the case for younger people who have never travelled before and the world they grow into will only have VR to offer.
The first Virtual Reality Cinema was opened in Amsterdam. Audience members wearing VR headsets are able to experience the movie from one of the actor’s perspectives (this sounds absolutely sick). VR can sometimes appear to be something extremely helpful that would make our jobs easier and in a sense, accurate. Juries would be able to assess crime scenes more easily instead of looking at pictures. Detectives can also have access to crime scenes without tampering with evidence, assuming the simulator is extremely accurate. Another benefit from VR is virtual physical therapy. Studies show that patients show better improvement when they visually experience calm settings while being on a treadmill for example.
There is another VR experience that has recently become popular which is porn. This is sort of bizarre to think about because the need for social interaction and relationships will slowly begin to diminish if people feel the same amount of satisfaction without having to interact with another human. Again, some people may argue that it will never feel like the real thing but many people who have tried it are amazed at how immersive the experience is (x). Also, for people who have never experienced the real thing, their only reality would be a virtual one. Will this overcome the desire to have a physical relationship? Studies show that our generation has the most people suffering from porn-induced erectile dysfunction than any other generation. It’s scary to think how much more prevalent of a problem this will be if VR porn slowly starts to take over our sex lives.
It may be too soon to fully evaluate the implications of a virtual reality because again, it might just be forgotten like 3D. Perhaps humane desires are much stronger than technology and we will always feel the desire to experience things for ourselves. By the same token, an anti-social generation may develop where virtual reality is seen as a relief or an escape from social anxieties.