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Strap On Your Goggles, The Virtual Reality Rollercoaster Is Just Getting Started

27/04/2016 12:54

Virtual reality has had an eventful childhood. Still in its infancy, VR has packed in more drama and controversy than most tech innovations manage in a lifetime.

Complaints range from motion sickness to the risks of the human race becoming lesser virtual beings, plugged into headsets and giving up on reality.

Meanwhile, first to market headsets - Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive - have had a few rumoured teething problems, like accidentally cancelled orders, delayed deliveries and component shortages.

But many pundits will tell you that VR is just minutes away from changing the world. And it's fair to say that it is beginning to have a transformative impact beyond gaming mania, and the ten-a-penny online articles entitled 'I tried Virtual Reality porn'.

America's National Football League recently announced plans to use VR for diversity training. Rather than subjecting staff and players to interminable speeches from HR reps, the NFL will use VR's immersive functions to allow employees to 'walk in someone else's shoes', experiencing bias, harassment or prejudice as the victim would. Certainly sounds more persuasive than a lecture on the thin line between an inappropriate joke and a lawsuit...

We've also seen a surprisingly compelling art program from the Google Cultural Institute, which allows you to 'paint' in a 3D environment. The Tilt Brush software gives users a choice of colours and brushes, providing all the tools you'd need to prove you're virtually Michelangelo. Check out the video below for a demo:

And it might not be long before the term 'courtroom drama' takes on a new, more practical meaning. Jury members will soon wave goodbye to the two-dimensional crime scene renderings of yore. Virtual recreations of how people and objects might have interacted will deliver more accurate and effective understandings of how a crime played out.

Will Oculus Rift turn out to be an unexpected instrument of justice? A row of jurors with boxes strapped to their faces is bound to give any defendant the shivers, guilty or otherwise.

There are also grand plans to incorporate VR into military strategy, to prepare NASA astronauts for their first voyage into space and even to train apprentice welders. The opportunities, it appears, are limitless.

Either way, the future is looking less and less predictable. There are plenty more tricks up the VR sleeve, so don't be fooled by the haters and the worriers. And while you wait for the thunderbolts to strike, have a look at YouTube's 360-degree live streaming feature. It's the next best thing. Probably.

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