Benefits beyond gaming exist for virtual reality

Virtual Reality, or commonly known as VR, was created around the 1960s, believe it or not, but not in the way you might expect it. VR has evolved into something that many people could only imagine would be a product of the future. However, here we are in the twenty-first century where VR is used to help train military personnel by putting them into real-world situations. VR can be used to design skyscrapers and create medicines, but how is a gaming console used to help the world? Here are four examples of how VR can be used outside of gaming:

  1. Construction
  2. Healthcare
  3. Virtual Meetings
  4. Military Training

Construction

More construction companies today are starting to use VR as a way to help make the process of creating buildings and machines easier, safer, more efficient. What most construction workers have done and still do today is to go out to the site that they plan on building at and prepare the area for the actual construction to take place. Once that is done and all the blueprints are finished they will then start building. With the help of VR, they are able to actually recreate the entire finished structure and be able to walk around and see it. They would be able to have a 3d blueprint of every step that they need to take on building the structure. It is also a great way to see if there are things that they need to fix in case of any structural problems that occur in the headset due to the physics like gravity or strong winds blowing structures down. When this happens the creators would be able to change the materials that were used and switch them out for stronger materials. 

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Healthcare

Medical school might be challenging, but why go to school and learn about healthcare when you can just play Surgeon Simulator on Steam VR? (Don’t just play that to get your degree, please). Students that plan on going into the medical field have recently started incorporating VR as a way to help practice certain surgeries. They would still go to operations and see how professionals do it but they are also able to use the same tools, equipment, and a virtual human body to practice on. This will enable students to get a better feeling on how surgeries will operate and will also give them a test with their timing. The game Surgeon Simulator allows anyone to become a surgeon. The game will have the right tools, the right body parts or medicines needed, and it also has realistic blood physics. Okay… the blood isn’t realistic but if the patient loses a certain amount of blood, they die and you get fired. Surgeon Simulator might not be the most  tech advanced game, but it’s purpose is executed perfectly. From there on, programmers would take the main mechanics of the game and actually put real-life situations in them. It’s not only students that use  either. Actually, doctors use this to perfect operations that are really challenging. They could practice a heart transplant on a virtual person to get better at the operation. Once it comes to the real deal they’ll know the steps on how to perform the surgery. Only this time with a living human being.

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Virtual Meetings

If we have learned anything from the last year or two, sitting in your room on Zoom is not the best way to learn or interact with people. This is why businesses, and some students, have started using headsets like the Oculus Quest in order to have a more in-depth and interactive meeting. Meta, formally known as Facebook, has created an app called Horizon Workrooms where people with an Oculus headset are able to join a meeting room from their houses and are able to see everyone’s avatars. You’re able to put a computer at the desk and actually see a virtually created version of it inside of the headset. There are whiteboards and markers to create designs for products that everyone can see. Besides Horizon Workrooms and Meta, an indie game company has created another way for meetings to work called MeetinVR. This virtual app allows you to add friends into a meeting, change the scenery, and also has rooms for students and teachers. Those that have any kind of headset will have their own little booth where they can see everyone else in the class and can also see the teacher in the front.

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Military Training

Ever since VR technology was created, it has been used in all branches of the military for training. The air force can use headsets to show what flying certain plains can be like. They’ll have the same controls as they would in the actual plane but because it is only in the headset, it is a safer way for them to train and is also another way for them to get a hold of all the buttons/controls. The Navy also uses VR headsets in a similar fashion. They will strap on headsets and work in a submarine simulator. In it, they are able to perform tasks like launching torpedoes, pilot the submarine, and have an underwater-like experience inside of the headset.  And if we’re talking about the Marines, they could play Population One on the Oculus. With the technology growing every day, VR in the military will continue to grow and will have lasting effects on how soldiers train.

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A screenshot of Beat Saber on Oculus Quest

There are hundreds of more ways Virtual Reality can be used to help us outside of the world of gaming, and these were just a few examples of it. You have any sort of VR headset at home like the Oculus Quest or HTC Vive, I encourage you to look up videos and walkthroughs of some of these processes. If not that, go into games like VR chat and open up a world where you can fly a jet and land on an aircraft carrier in the ocean. Or you could go back to playing the BTS music pack on Beat Saber.

Cooper Funk is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class