It’s a common sight today. Whether you’re out for dinner or having some drinks at a bar, there’s likely to be someone staring at a screen. Mobile technology can connect us with anyone on the planet but it can often make social interactions feel a little more distant.
Technology is already such a crucial part of society and people’s lives and it’s showing no signs of changing. Therefore, the onus is on the technology itself to adapt and change to suit our needs.
Virtual Reality is aiming to be just that. The tech is nothing new but its uses are about as varied as our imaginations allow. VR has developed rapidly in the last few years and is being used in industries like the construction sector. This new wave of headsets was kickstarted by Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus back in 2014. The social media giant is now making major strides in researching the possibilities of the technology.
‘You’re sitting on a train across from someone you’ve never met,’ a recent blog post read.
‘You fall into conversation, chatting about everything from your hobbies to relationships to life milestones. One other detail – you’re wearing an Oculus Rift.’
This is the first line from a study authorised by the tech firm which investigated how people react to a one-on-one conversation with a stranger using virtual reality. The findings were quite surprising. The study noted that the majority of participants soon felt at ease using the technology to talk to a stranger.
Participants soon felt at ease, were capable of discussing personal details, and grossly underestimated how long the conversation lasted. Time flies when you’re having fun. Numerous participants noted that using the technology reduced their self-consciousness and increased their confidence.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that virtual reality technology is being used in the dating world. Today, technology is a crucial part of romantic relationships. Meeting online is now the most common way for romantic relationships to begin by far. It follows that virtual reality dating takes this to the next step, without any of the negative and occasionally dangerous consequences of dating online.
“The ability to engage users through multiple senses, communicate from the safety of your own space, and the capacity to hear, see, and maybe even feel your partner in a virtual space are some of the many reasons why virtual reality may be the future of dating and love,” says Lindsay Portnoy, an educational psychologist.
But it’s not just popular in the dating world. Virtual reality is using technology to bring us closer together in every area of life. MeetinVR is a company looking to utilise the tech to create virtual workspaces for communication and collaboration. In this environment, participants can talk, move, draw, and share files with each other. It’s more involving than a phone or video conference and far more convenient than travelling great distances to work together in person.
Virtual reality allows us to experience different things, to connect through shared experiences. It’s not just about video gaming. Virgin Holidays allows its customers to effectively try before they fly, using VR headsets to view a potential holiday destination before visiting. Users can virtually visit a Mexican beach for a taste of where they may end up. Similarly, Betway Casino has used the technology to take users to new places, utilising virtual reality for an online casino experience.
But it doesn’t end there. NextVR has teamed up with Live Nation to create virtual reality music experiences. Even the United Nations has got involved. The UNVR project aims to make the world’s most pressing issues feel a little closer to home. It allows users to step into war-torn regions and witness environmental damage up close and personal.
“Virtual Reality is the medium of presence and it allows us to create memories together that are in many ways indistinguishable from how we form memories in real life – but unlike the physical world, we’re not tied to its limitations and laws of physics,” says VR expert Lucas Rizzotto.
“In VR we can go on fantastical adventures with the people we love, have surreal exchanges that defy our understanding of intimacy, and bond over experiences we never thought were possible to make.”
The memories made in virtual reality can often be indistinguishable to the ones made in real life. The bonus of VR here is that we can do far more within the technology than outside. As Lucas Rizzotto says, VR isn’t bound to the laws of physics so we can create any number of fantastical environments and settings.
It allows us to experience things in far greater immersive detail than other devices. VR can transport users to anywhere imaginable, something which numerous companies are utilising right now. But it’s also far more collaborative than other forms of technology. These experiences can be shared and as a result, will help users communicate through technology better than ever before.