VR: Future or Fad?

By Seth Houck

vive-1-1460470510-5ylD-column-width-inline.jpgVirtual Reality has been around in films and literature since as early as 1935. Though it has had a long screen time, only recently has the idea of reasonably priced VR (Virtual Reality) experience been achievable. Even though it is a technological breakthrough people have been wishing to achieve since its inception, one question remains: why have people not been raving over it?

In 1995 Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, a 32 bit headset console that was able to display simulated 3D (three dimensional) graphics within a headset-like screen. It was revolutionary for being a commercial VR headset, but it was a complete failure. Most people blame it on the horrible marketing campaign, the high price for what was given, as well as it being an uncomfortable experience due to its bulkiness.

But recently we have seen new VR devices that fill all the holes that the Virtual Boy had failed to plug. Modern VR headsets can display 3D graphics in HD (High Definition) resolutions and also have hand input using controllers. Though the new headsets have few fully VR games, 3D headsets have other uses than gaming.

VR has been used in multiple therapeutic applications to treat phobias and depression alike. One notable usage for VR therapy is treating cases of PTSD from military service mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan. The program can recreate scenarios such as IED explosions to roadside ambushes using exact details to create accurate situations that tailor to each individual. So far, these tactics of VR therapy have worked for targeting the problems that patients suffer from.

Besides therapy and gaming, VR has served another purpose: training. In 1982, the United States Air Force developed the first VR cockpit training simulator for pilots. Being the first of its kind, it would soon develop further with better graphics and control. Paramedics can also use VR to perform a wider range of operations than with normal training. VR has also been used to train Belgian firefighters how to drive in order to reduce damage to roads.

But with all of its advancements, will VR stay? My answer is yes and no. VR has multiple uses for training and education that cannot be given with normal instruction. But for gaming, something has to change. VR for gaming is too expensive for the common user reaching up to $800 and only offering a small amount of fully VR games. Until something changes, VR gaming may just be a fad.