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Future in Focus: The Rise of Virtual Reality

Updated: 7 days ago

Mia Yaffes reveals the promises of virtual reality and how it might shape our future.

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Photo by: Shri


Virtual Reality (VR) threatens to shape our future drastically. Currently its purpose seems to be in the form of gaming though its promises are greater. But what can we really expect from this new and somewhat unknown innovation?


A concise definition of this new digital realm is 'a technology that allows a user to carry out actions in a digital environment, yet feels as if they are immersed in a physical environment'.VR enables people to perceive and interact with a new digital surrounding in a way that resembles the physical world, including experiencing detailed and sensory elements.



The investment for a new future 


As VR becomes increasingly more prevalent, the industry’s funding grows rapidly. In 2023 the VR market size was valued at $15.8 billion. From 2022 to 2025 the industry numbers are predicted to almost double, from $12 billion to $22 billion. 


Did you know? As of 2023, the VR market is worth approximately $15.8bn.

                                                


Concerns and benefits of VR on youth 


With the rapid rise of VR comes the question of risk to the development of children and adolescents. Despite the common public notion that VR harms teenage progression, studies showed that its impact on cognitive development is mostly positive or neutral. The consensus was that the main concerns arise from the overuse and unsupervised use of screens and ‘head mounted displays.’ 

 

Furthermore, these studies found that VR can be used to educate and support those with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).


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Influence on healthcare


Making recent headlines for ‘transforming healthcare’, VR can be used by professionals to facilitate improvements in memory, cognition and physical therapy treatments, and can even elevate surgical efficiency. Doctors are able to cultivate their capacity to empathise by simulating the patients’ experience of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or Dementia. Studies also show that VR directly helps student doctors to understand and perceive the problems of the elderly, especially with vision and hearing loss or Alzheimer’s.


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 VR has been effective in aiding patients who need physical rehabilitation. The use of 'motion enabled games' boosts motivation, and encourages the reproduction of specific movements. It can also help patients to practice real-life tasks like shopping etc, and programmes can be altered for patient needs. 


 

Surgical efficiency is also refined through VR. Harvard released a study showing that VR improved surgical precision by 230% more than conventional approaches. Moreover, it increased procedure time by 20%. Participants of the study underwent training using either VR or traditional methods, and then performed a procedure to repair a fractured tibia; a bone which VR can be extremely beneficial in improving.



VR is also having a significant effect in raising hospital conditions for a wide variety of people, e.g. reducing labour pain during childbirth, or the use of video games to distract young, ill children from pain.  

 


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VR is inherently a very therapeutic medium. The fact that people know it's not real enables them greater psychological flexibility; they can make new learning that's beneficial for their mental health.” – Daniel Freeman, professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford

 

Conclusion


In a new age of virtual reality, questions loom about the long-term effects of using VR, yet it could promise more than know. Monetary investments portray the future impact that we believe VR might have, and the studies conducted in the healthcare realm exhibit the positive effect it has on people.

 

 


Researcher: Phoebe Agnew-Bass | Editor: Fiona Patterson | Online Editor: Elena Silvestri


 

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