Virtual Reality

8 ways VR could (eventually) transcend gaming

Gizmag looks at some ways that the Oculus Rift and virtual reality could change our world (Base image: MarcelClemens/Shutterstock)
Gizmag looks at some ways that the Oculus Rift and virtual reality could change our world (Base image: MarcelClemens/Shutterstock)
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Perhaps future movie theaters will incorporate VR headsets, for a more immersive movie-going experience (Image remixed by Gizmag from StockLite/Shutterstock)
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Perhaps future movie theaters will incorporate VR headsets, for a more immersive movie-going experience (Image remixed by Gizmag from StockLite/Shutterstock)
Imagine Oculus taking you courtside for an NBA Finals game (Image: Domenic Gareri / Shutterstock.com)
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Imagine Oculus taking you courtside for an NBA Finals game (Image: Domenic Gareri / Shutterstock.com)
Virtual social sandbox Second Life is already incorporating Oculus, and could be pointing at the future of social media
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Virtual social sandbox Second Life is already incorporating Oculus, and could be pointing at the future of social media
When driving becomes a thing of the past, what will we do in cars? Maybe VR could be the answer (Original photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag.com)
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When driving becomes a thing of the past, what will we do in cars? Maybe VR could be the answer (Original photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag.com)
Pilots could soon have the best simulators they could imagine (Photo: In Tune/Shutterstock)
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Pilots could soon have the best simulators they could imagine (Photo: In Tune/Shutterstock)
VR could join with telepresence robots to make us feel – and look – like we're somewhere else (Image: Ociacia/Shutterstock)
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VR could join with telepresence robots to make us feel – and look – like we're somewhere else (Image: Ociacia/Shutterstock)
Exercise machines that correspond with in-game movements could make working out much more fun (Remixed by Gizmag from original by (Original: Kzenon/Shutterstock)
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Exercise machines that correspond with in-game movements could make working out much more fun (Remixed by Gizmag from original by (Original: Kzenon/Shutterstock)
Inevitably, porn is going to make its way to VR headsets (Image: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock)
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Inevitably, porn is going to make its way to VR headsets (Image: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock)
Gizmag looks at some ways that the Oculus Rift and virtual reality could change our world (Base image: MarcelClemens/Shutterstock)
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Gizmag looks at some ways that the Oculus Rift and virtual reality could change our world (Base image: MarcelClemens/Shutterstock)

Gamers have been buzzing about VR for a couple of years already, and they're going to be the headsets' core audience at launch. But in the long run, we believe the product has the potential to transcend gaming. Let's take a look at eight future uses for the best virtual reality headset.

Hollywood 360

Perhaps future movie theaters will incorporate VR headsets, for a more immersive movie-going experience (Image remixed by Gizmag from StockLite/Shutterstock)
Perhaps future movie theaters will incorporate VR headsets, for a more immersive movie-going experience (Image remixed by Gizmag from StockLite/Shutterstock)

Virtual reality could ultimately transform movies at least as much as it does gaming. Some of the clips in Oculus' demo from CES gave us a glimpse of the jaw-dropping immersiveness that could come from a new VR-focused Hollywood: things like a Pixar-influenced animated short, an intimate T-Rex encounter that would right be at home in a Jurassic Park reboot and an epic sci-fi battle scene that had us dodging bullets like Neo from The Matrix.

The best way to describe the experience is that it made today's movies seem stale and one-dimensional by comparison. Of course the best movies are more about masterful storytelling than eye candy, but there's no reason the Nolans and Scorceses of the world couldn't bring art to the 360-degree world of VR.

Home video would likely take off first, but why couldn't we eventually have movie theaters full of VR headsets? What you'd miss in communion with your fellow moviegoers would be more than made up for with a feeling that you were standing in the middle of the movie's action.

Courtside seats

Imagine Oculus taking you courtside for an NBA Finals game (Image: Domenic Gareri / Shutterstock.com)
Imagine Oculus taking you courtside for an NBA Finals game (Image: Domenic Gareri / Shutterstock.com)

Similarly, VR could transform the way we watch sports. Imagine the 2016 NBA Finals with 360-degree cameras placed at various points courtside (or even hanging above the court or on the backboards). From the comfort of your own La-Z-Boy, a VR headset could give you the best seats in the house – perhaps switching from seat-to-seat as the action moves.

Samsung is already moving in this direction, partnering up with the NBA for 360-degree in-game action for the Gear VR in 2015. It sounds like it's just going to be highlights at launch, but live feeds of full games seems like the obvious long-term destination.

Making exercise machines fun

Exercise machines that correspond with in-game movements could make working out much more fun (Remixed by Gizmag from original by (Original: Kzenon/Shutterstock)
Exercise machines that correspond with in-game movements could make working out much more fun (Remixed by Gizmag from original by (Original: Kzenon/Shutterstock)

We actually tried this one, and immediately saw the potential. Using the Gear VR on an exercise bike, we were barely aware that we were exerting energy – and that's without the machine's movements corresponding with the in-game action. Once that happens, we could have gyms where, instead of choosing a boring workout, you'll choose the speed of the beasts you're chasing and the incline of the mountains you're chasing them across.

Facebook of the future

Virtual social sandbox Second Life is already incorporating Oculus, and could be pointing at the future of social media
Virtual social sandbox Second Life is already incorporating Oculus, and could be pointing at the future of social media

Of all the companies to buy Oculus VR, why Facebook? Well, perhaps Mark Zuckerburg saw a little of himself in the young innovators running the hot startup, but it could also be because he saw a new future for social media: Enter the metaverse.

Imagine a future version of Facebook where, instead of posting photos of your lunch on your wall, you have a Second Life-like avatar, and can mill about with virtual versions of your high school class or family members who live on the other side of the world. Each person would be sitting in their own living room, but could interact as if they were hanging out at a reunion. This virtual world could give a whole new meaning to the moniker "virtual town square."

Speaking of Second Life, the past-its-prime virtual world is already trying to get a jump on this by integrating Oculus Rift DK2 support into its social sandbox.

The real reason to get a self-driving car

When driving becomes a thing of the past, what will we do in cars? Maybe VR could be the answer (Original photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag.com)
When driving becomes a thing of the past, what will we do in cars? Maybe VR could be the answer (Original photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag.com)

If autonomous cars become mainstream, that would free us up to focus on other things while in the car. So why not pimp your ride with a few VR headsets? Then, instead of staring at miles and miles of boring dirt during your road trip to Vegas, you could battle aliens, save Gotham City or get lost in the woods with Reese Witherspoon.

Better simulators

Pilots could soon have the best simulators they could imagine (Photo: In Tune/Shutterstock)
Pilots could soon have the best simulators they could imagine (Photo: In Tune/Shutterstock)

Though "virtual reality" and "play" are going to go hand-in-hand, don't forget about "work." Governments, businesses and militaries could use VR to better prepare people for their jobs.

Pilots could have the most realistic simulators they've ever flown, beginner repair technicians could get hands-on experience without damaging expensive equipment and soldiers could simulate battle without leaving their barracks. Perhaps psychologists could even use it to help patients resolve painful childhood memories. The possibilities here are practically endless.

Real-life Avatar

VR could join with telepresence robots to make us feel – and look – like we're somewhere else (Image: Ociacia/Shutterstock)
VR could join with telepresence robots to make us feel – and look – like we're somewhere else (Image: Ociacia/Shutterstock)

This one is likely the farthest down the pipeline, but imagine a future world where we each have telepresence robots that we control from home, using virtual reality headsets. And when the robots get to the point where they look like us, we could virtually attend a business meeting in Tokyo, while sitting on the couch in New York – while feeling and looking like we're really there.

Inevitably ...

Inevitably, porn is going to make its way to VR headsets (Image: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock)
Inevitably, porn is going to make its way to VR headsets (Image: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock)

We could pretend like virtual reality will only be used for PG, family-friendly uses, but who would we be kidding? The porn industry is going to jump all over this, making for the most realistic fake sex humanity has ever experienced.

The only problem? If I had VR porn when I was a teenager, I might have never left my room.

What else?

If you've used the Oculus Rift development kits or the Gear VR, can you think of any other areas where the devices could change our world? Drop us a line in the comments below.For more on Oculus, you can read our Gear VR review and our hands-on with the 'Crescent Bay' Oculus Rift from CES 2015.

25 comments
John Paterson
One area that the Occulus Rift would change for the better is education. You could be anywhere in the world and still attend classes at a university of you choice. You could also sit in a virtual classroom, with a virtual Einstein, and discuss a topic on physics and not get tired of it.
Steven Rowland
Architectural design. We are already using Oculus to communicate our design to our clients. Imagine putting surgeons into an operating room before it is built. Hospitals are expensive and complex, and oculus gives us another tool to make certain that the design is right.
Hendrik Ehlers
It would make a 1A tool in controlling bomb disposal robots. cheers, he/
Terrence Bull
A fully immersive UI for almost anything: think a full recording studio inside a VR environment, i.e. a 100+ channel fully operational mixing desk (which would smash the issue with the current 'glass console' issue with digital recording systems). How about a 5k, 10k, 100k computer screen at whatever size you wish - i.e. unlimited screen real-estate for you computer. Then you can add interactive features such as grabbing an icon and pulling it out to reveal extra data/controls, two handed flipping of images to see data embedded in them, etc., etc.... The possibilities for computer UIs are unlimited when it comes to VR combined with voice recognition.
Whiplash
If someone could develop an experience that could help me "unlearn" my seemingly hard-coded dread of spiders. That would be fantastic. I don't want to be so afraid of them... but there's something in my mind that completely flips, I have no control over.
Steve Jones
Hells yeah. But for a lot of these applications (including those suggested in the comments), the VR headset is not the most difficult part of the application and/or it assumes that the VR headset will have a resolution far, far beyond the current OR prototypes. What is the state of 360deg, 3D cameras? Surely a lot of the applications (movies, porn, sports, virtual tourism etc) depend on this technology and I've not heard much about its development.
Matt Fletcher
What about Work? work from home, meetings in VR, viewing VR files. cities in VR, Realtor online house walk through files, vr files of entire operations or plants, with robot/avatars that could be logged into and used by a multitude of employees. Imagine your at home and suddenly you get an emergancy notice from work or lab. Confirm with a VR robot before leaving.
mussa
Ancient landmark tourism. I just want to walk through a almost accurate Rome, Pompei, or Peking form the past, Athens while stopping to look up at Mount Olympus. For many people who love history, this could really be the ultimate fantasy....and a beautiful experience, no need for aliens or spacecraft...just a reliving of times past
dudikam
what about VR touring ? I believe, the minute VR will be crystal clear and when on shelfs will be available A fair price sphere camera we shell see a begining of a web vr touring. What about live broadcast from all kind of Event scenes. what about programs of phobias therapies. well, endless parallel worlds are waiting for us in the very near puture with this quantum leap media. Thanks I'm here when it's happen.
Carl East
One area where the Oculus could make a difference is travel. I was watching the following clip the other day and instantly thought of the Oculus Rift and how cool it would be to actually be able to see all around you while travelling across any country. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpuosN-v6vE Or, imagine the same thing on a plane. I can't wait to get my hands on the commercial version. Carl