Beyond gaming, manufacturing, and all the other commercial and business aspects that augmented and virtual reality will bring to our economy, will there be any positive benefits to us as a society as we embrace this new generation of technology? How can we unlock this technology’s potential in order to make the world a better place?
Improving Quality of Life
There are many people out there that are incapable of living a normal life. They deserve to be able to live their life to the fullest, to explore, and to experience the wonder of the world. Virtual reality can be that outlet for the disabled, the housebound, the bedridden. A way to experience what the able-bodied often take for granted.
Piotr Łój, the founder of Virtual Dream Project, is one example of using virtual reality to aid the relief of young oncology patients by whisking them away from their current reality.
Embrace the Life VR, provides a platform designed for wheelchair bound individuals to simulate life in a wheelchair in order to decrease anxiety and even increase social integration.
San Diego’s Virtual Reality Medical Center is consistently developing new ways to use VR, in combination with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy, to treat phobias, anxiety, pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.
Additionally, proper healthcare is also lacking in many parts of the world as access to trained medical professionals is very challenging, and sometimes, impossible. Virtual reality can help increase access to medical professionals in the developing world and overall improve healthcare on a global scale.
Upgrading the Human Experience
Much of the world has some form of social media at their fingertips which has greatly limited interpersonal relationships. Virtual reality can help create new social experiences to uplift the human experience and bring back a feeling of personal connectedness.
Facebook Spaces is on the verge of this type of interactive engagement through creating digital environments where you can customize an avatar to express yourself, and then chat or partake in group activities. It is already available for the Rift and Vive VR headsets.
Virtual reality also has the ability to create social change through understanding the world through the eyes of those who see it. Project Empathy VR wants to embrace empathy in order to push for social change by creating compelling VR experiences to view the world from someone else’s perspective.
Technology Summit Brings Together Experts to Think Meaningfully
The VR for Good Summit is one conference that brings together developers, healthcare practitioners, education leaders, accessibility experts, and other areas of social causes that are using VR/AR in meaningful ways.
When those who understand the problems interact with others who understand the technology, that is when innovation occurs. The potential for virtual reality to help understand and transform ourselves, as well as the world around us, is without limits.
It is very crucial that virtual reality industry comes together in these formative years to fully leverage this potential for social good. Even if virtual reality moves one person at a time to action, gratitude, or inspiration, this is the right direction we want to be heading in.
New Generations of Change and Innovation
With the millennial, and younger, generation turning to digital media for creating social change, getting them interested in the potential of virtual reality to achieve this is an important step.
Virtual and augmented reality are playing a crucial role in this evolution by inspiring young people to use and experiment with innovative technology, which also prompts them to consider careers in technology.
Amanda Cavaleri, the founder and CEO of Connect the Ages, plans to use virtual reality filmmaking as a tool to connect younger generations to the value of older generations.
The Future of Virtual Reality
We should strive for more than pure sensationalism or escapism in our virtual and augmented reality entertainment. We can make the world a better place if we leverage the unique power of the medium and focus on the pro-social aspects of virtual reality overall. It’s a very special time to be a part of this technological revolution, and in the coming years we all hope to see positive changes reflected in our society.