Virtual reality, may it be the future of the media? Essay

VIRTUAL REALITY, may it be the future of the media?

Getty images (Fig 1)

Maximilian Markus Samuel Indian Institue of Art and Design Word count : 1205 Date submitted : 21, January 2019


Introduction References

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I’ll be talking about virtual reality and how it may the future of the media.

A VR headset (Fig 2) has the power to change what happens in the real world. By now, I’m guessing that most of us have had some sort of experience with VR but for those of you who haven't, it can be hard to imagine how strapping goggles onto your face could possibly make you feel anything except socially awkward.

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But looks can be deceiving and how VR appeard from the outside can cause people to misjudge the impact that it will have on our long-term future. The reality is that even with todays rudimentary technology people are constantly suprised at how real and how visceral it already feels and we're only starting to just scratch the surface of what's possible.

So lets take a quick step back so we can understand why VR is able to do these things. So a concept thats really important to VR is called presence not as is in birthday presents but as in the feeling of being somewhere. Its not something that we really think about on a day-to-day basis but its our brain distinct way of telling us that an experience is real and that we're not just looking at a picture or a book. What VR does is activate the motor cortex and our sensory system in a way that's similar to a real life experience and as an outside observer you might not be able to see somebody experiencing presence but what you can see are the physiological and emotional reaction that occur as a result.

The question that really seems to get people thinking is what's gonna happen when it gets to be so real, so advanced that we can no longer tell the difference. Over the next five years we will have to open up our thinking in completely new ways in order to use these new capabilities and move humanity forward.

This can help leaders learn faster and also make decisions based not just on intui- tion but also empathy and data. What I found is that a lot of people have no idea that its being used for things other than games and entertainment. There are NFL, NBA and US Olympic ski team all use VR to train for competiotion or that Ford, BMW and Volkswagen are using it not only to reinvent the car buying experience but how they design cars in the first place.


As it turns out something that happens that when we achieve presence in VR is that our brains actually become more accurate at encoding memories. Theres been some interesting research from the University of Marylnd that shows that theres about a nine percent improvement in memory accuarcy when learning in VR versus looking at a flat screen.

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Studies on mice a VR driver setup actually shows that recall and response times are improved by twelve percent. But on the surface those numbers might not seem huge but in the right situations that can mean the difference between winning and losing easily and at extreme circumstances that could be the difference between life and death. VR also gives people a safe envirnoment to practice things that could be other wise expensive risky or dangerous to replicate and this could be for anything from oper- ating heavy machinery to practicing life saving surgery to saving hostages or even prepping for black friday.

One in five adults in India has some form of diagnoseable mental disorder. Unfortu- nately one of the most common solutions that we have today is prescription drugs. Research has shown that in a number of cases VR can be a effective alternative throught a several techniques such as exposure therapy, distraction therapy, neuro- feeback. Virtual experience can actually be designed specifically to address a host of conditions like Pain management, PTSD, Stree management, Addictions and more. The fact that VR can even be considered as a viable solution for some of these health challenges cant be undersated and just goes to show that theres still so much we have to learn about the human mind. VR in health care is definitely an area to watch.


On thing is very clear that embodiment in VR can induce a level of empthy and understanding thats more effective than any other form of communication that we have today. There is another way that VR can help us to get a better understanding of our own self preception. Its known that people with eating disorder have a presistenly dis- toeted representation of the size of their body but in a study done in 2016 research- er from the Netherlands, people were actually able to show that by putting people in a healthy sized avatar it was possible to decrease the overestimation of their own body and thus improves their self body image. Interestingly has found that after the headset came off the changes actually stayed. These types of finding are so imprtant beacuse as many of you know our own pre- ception and self image can often be the most difficult thing to overcome. Theres still so much work to be done in this space but it is really exciting to see how VR can enable this type of learning. It gives as a tangible way to begin to test and understand the discrepancies between what we think, what we feel and what we believe we already know.

VR can help in getting a new insight and help change not through force or coercion but throught the power of perspective.

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