A long tradition of science-fiction tales has made us dream of a promising future where we escape from reality by using technology. For example, Gibson’s Neuromancer told us about cyberspace before the creation of internet. In his book, Gibson showed us a world where people can use body implants and navigate through a virtual world. Later, Matrix retook this idea of an immersive virtual reality and went much further. As a new version of Plato’s cave, where prisoners were only able to see the shadows projected on a wall, humans in Matrix were connected to a simulation and completely unaware of what was actually happening. The film asked the audience: what if all you are going through was only a simulated lie?
From time to time, some intrepid researchers bet on one of these crazy ideas and these fantasies sneak into our daily lives. When this happens, it usually ends up changing society profoundly and this new technology stays with us forever as did the computer. Nowadays it seems to be the turn of augmented and virtual reality to become the gadgets of this era. Although these technologies are not completely new, they are now mature enough to become more than a fancy trend.
In the last months we have seen the impact of augmented reality videogames in people’s behavior. These technologies change the habits of population all over the world. Suddenly, some of them spend thousands of hours walking with their dogs, while others break into private spaces just to catch these digital pets. Children in America have even decreased their levels of overweight!
But entertainment is only the starting point. The way we tell and consume stories are definitively changing. Some universities are already researching immersive journalism. Equipped with VR glasses and some gadgets, the audience is able to experience facts in a first person point of view. Therefore, virtual reality can also raise awareness about some hard topics due to the deeper empathy that this experience provides. Just imagine yourself what it would be like if you were enclosed in Guantanamo. What if you were in Iraq at precisely the moment a bomb explodes and chaos takes over the city? Journalists will have to adapt their style to this new media.
Learning and Working in Environments of Virtual Reality
Journalism won’t be the only job that will change as a consequence of virtual reality. Teachers can also use these new tools. In Matrix, Neo was able to learn kung-foo in a few seconds just by downloading a program into his brain. After that, he honed his skills fighting with Morpheus in a virtualized scenario. So, could virtual reality make learning process become instant? Well, although it will speed it up, an instant learning is far from becoming true. However, medical students will have the opportunity to deliver surgery without the risk of having a real human being on their tables and with a very realistic feedback!
Besides, others fields like healthcare will benefit from Augmented and Virtual Reality. Psychologists and other professionals can treat their patient’s phobias by making them face their fears in a controlled and completely safe environment. Also, Virtual Reality can improve the rehabilitation therapies of patients who suffered from strokes and are less invasive compared to other methods. Google glasses are even been used to help autistic persons to recognize emotions!
So given all these changes, new professionals have to understand new languages of artistic creation, have at least basic skills in neuroscience field, higher computer skills and even knowing some programming languages. However, one of the most important things will be the ability to work in a team, since no one will be able to cover all the knowledge required to create and implement these new artifacts.
The new era of virtual worlds has just started and we’ve shown you how it will affect some jobs. Can you imagine what it will do to yours?Our thanks to Marco Verch for the image “VR Game The Climb: Oculus Rift mit Touch”
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