As virtual reality is steadily gaining traction, there are those who have embraced it as the next great platform after mobile. They have fully accepted that VR and its relatives, 360 content, AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality), will not only bring about significant changes to digital and brand engagement but also deliver a technological revolution. Yet, there are those who view these evolving technologies and anything related to them with reluctance.
Some have argued that the coming of virtual reality will lead to a whole new set of unethical, dangerous, and maybe even criminal behavior. Though these issues are not to be taken lightly, those of us in VR and its related industries are unfazed. After all, we believe that the good these platforms bring will change the world for the better and thus, will far outweigh the bad. Besides, no matter what innovations come our way, there will always be people with negative intentions. Even the internet – and the ways it has connected people across the globe and has provided us with a wealth of data and information – has been used for bad. But that hasn’t stopped its use or proliferation, has it? Considering that you’re reading this
No matter what innovations come our way, there will always be people with negative intentions.
now via this magical infrastructure we call the internet just goes to show how the good far outweighs the bad and that as has been the case since the beginning of time, good always trumps evil. The same goes for VR and its related technologies and the possibilities they have opened and will open in the future. And with that being said, here are three ways beyond marketing and advertising that the powers of virtual reality and their relative emerging technologies are being used for good.
Medicine & Health
The field of medicine is one industry that stands to make great advancements thanks to technologies like VR, AR and MR. Recently, a study on virtual reality and paraplegics showed the results of a rehabilitation program that contained a series of tests and exercises that involved virtual reality. At the end of the program, paraplegics who completed it were able to gain some sort of feeling in their limbs where formerly there was none. Virtual reality has also given a legally blind man a chance to see – at least while wearing a VR headset. Upon donning a VR device, the man was able to see images and colors in a way that he can never do in real life. There have also been stories coming out of the labs of mixed reality leader Magic Leap revealing that blind people were able to see via their technology.
Virtual Reality has the power to make paraplegics move again & the blind to see.
Other examples of the benefits of VR include aiding in PTSD therapy, helping to lessen the pain experienced by burn victims, and even VR that assisted a doctor to plan a heart surgery that saved a 4 month old baby’s life. The technology can also be used to enhance the study of medicine by allowing scientists to study cells in greater detail. The benefits of virtual reality in the area of medicine are so great that the CEO of Pixacore – a digital agency – said this:
Virtual reality has very rapidly shifted from a promising prototype to a viable platform that the healthcare industry will adopt to better understand the science, communicate diseases and therapy options to patients, train medical and industry professionals, and treat certain psychological disorders
Judging by its potential in the area of medicine, it’s no surprise that VR can also be a game changer when it comes to education. It delivers a whole new element to learning as VR immerses and engages whoever is using it – something a textbook or traditional video can never do. With the power to create virtual memories and improve content recall significantly, imagine how much more effective learning can be if a virtual reality environment serves as a supplement to whatever a student is learning in a textbook.
For example, in this article on “Virtual Reality in the Classroom,” an educator described how one could use VR to study chemistry. Students would be able to immerse themselves in cells (much like the scientists we talked about previously), molecules, etc – allowing them to observe their structure in a whole different level. The educator even mentioned that schools could have a VR chemistry lab instead of a traditional lab. This could prove to be safer and even more cost-efficient. Other examples include learning history where students are actually “transported in time”. With virtual reality, students could feel like they’re truly witnessing a historical event firsthand. It’s an incredibly effective way to reinforce whatever
(Read: How educators have been using virtual reality in their curriculums.)
Another application of virtual reality and how it reinforces learning is a program in Indiana that teaches teens the possible consequences of texting while driving. Through this program, the state of Indiana – once the state with the most teen driver fatalities – was able to improve their state ranking and lessen teen driver fatalities. Even the Department of Agriculture is thinking of using the technology as a learning tool to assist with training their food inspectors on what to expect while on the job.
Making the World a Better Place
With the previous examples in mind, it’s suspected that VR also has the potential to make the world a better place. That’s in large part because of its innate ability to create what is called “presence” wherein a user truly feels like they’re physically in a virtual location. This feeling of presence is why VR visionaries like Chris Milk and Nonny de la Pena have called virtual reality the ultimate “empathy machine”. It has the power to stir up emotions and compassion unlike any other medium before. VR can serve as an agent of change as it helps people better relate to global issues, disabilities, diseases and the human condition.
For example, a company in Australia recently released an app where people could virtually walk in the shoes of someone with dementia and thus help people understand how it feels to live life struggling with this challenging disease. This kind of experience can help people be more sympathetic, more compassionate, and more patient with those who have dementia and maybe even show them how they can be of more help. In the same way, Stanford released a study on the effects of virtual reality through an experiment on how it feels to be homeless. The United Nations is also planning on taking advantage of the power of VR to help with its global initiatives.
Because VR can trigger such strong emotions it also serves as an excellent vehicle for helping charitable organizations with their fundraising efforts. It has already been tested by such notable organizations as PETA and UNICEF. The latter experienced donations at twice the normal rate. And people didn’t do just one-off donations, many committed to monthly contributions.
A lot of people have a very emotional reaction to it… I can’t even count the number of times someone has taken off the headset and the goggles are filled with tears.
As you can see, there are countless ways in which we can apply new technologies like virtual reality for the common good. The examples referenced herewith merely scratch the surface. Yes, as with the advent of anything that’s new there’s fear and the potential
for negative consequences but these are negligible compared to the countless ways in which virtual reality and its cousins 360 degree content, AR and MR will change the world for the better. It’s no wonder that with all the potential positive effects across many fields that marketers are looking to see how they too can leverage these technologies to assist with their goals. So what are you waiting for? Choose to use #VR4Good and leverage this emerging technology today!