VR is Changing the World - Here's Why

The first time I recall experiencing VR was at a Dave and Buster's style entertainment center and it took the form of a shiny, brightly colored booth shaped like a rollercoaster carriage. Once you took your seat, a headset slipped over your eyes and you were transported to a fantastical amusement ride where insane bunnies took shots at you as you rocketed through a colorful landscape. It was fun and interesting, but not interactive and therefore not hugely impactful. Yet at that time, a seed had been planted.

Fast forward a few years and Lucasfilm releases the Mandalorian, a story set against visually breathtaking digital vistas. In my research about how they handled those visual effects, I came across information revealing that VR technology could be used to help our team here at Fireside fulfill some Vfx needs. That led us to invest in the Vive Cosmos Elite VR system.

Designed by HTC in collaboration with Valve, one of the companies responsible for democratizing VR, the Cosmos was a highly-rated headset at the time of its debut.

Revelatory moments that involve technology happen rarely in one's life, maybe every five to ten years for most people. Watching your first movie, or driving a car for the first time - those are two of the big ones. Experiencing that headset for the first time was one of those moments.

When I slipped it on I was transported to a stunningly detailed apartment built, somehow, into a rocky mountain. Through large windows, I could see a beautiful landscape stretching out as far as my eye could see. My ears were filled with the sounds of wind, rustling leaves, and birds singing. As I reached out to touch the virtual objects in front of me, I was amazed by the way my virtual hands seemed to move naturally in the digital space. Gaps in the illusion occurred, but even at this stage, it was like I was there, in this other world, my brain filling in the missing pieces.

Over the next two years, I explored that virtual landscape, walked fields and forests, and explored dystopian cities and abandoned spacecraft. I rode shotgun on an interview with Eminem, got a personal tour of the White House with President Obama, and experienced dozens of short films in a breathtaking immersive medium. More than once I woke up in the morning to play golf with someone in Australia and I've had conversations with people from around the world. Every step has been a real adventure, and more than one, a revelation. That's the thing about VR, the experience sticks with you.

Virtual reality is a rapidly emerging technology that is changing the way we interact with the world and with each other. Using VR to train their employees, organizations can help ensure that their workers are better prepared to handle the challenges they may face on the job and ultimately create a safer work environment for all.

One of the main ways that virtual reality is changing the world is through its use in the entertainment industry. It is being used to create immersive video games, movies, and other forms of media that allow users to fully immerse themselves in a virtual world. For example, VR headset users can experience a roller coaster ride, a battlefront, or a walk through the woods from the comfort of their own homes.

Virtual reality technology has become an increasingly valuable tool for safety training in recent years, and for good reason. It allows organizations to provide immersive and interactive training experiences that can help workers better understand and respond to a wide range of safety hazards and situations.

One of the key benefits of VR safety training is that it allows workers to practice and test their knowledge and skills in a safe, controlled environment. This can be especially useful for training employees in industries that involve potentially dangerous equipment or procedures, such as construction or manufacturing.

For example, imagine you work in the petrochemical industry and need to be trained on how to respond to a chemical spill. With traditional, non-VR training, you might watch a video or listen to a lecture on spill response procedures, and then practice implementing those procedures in a designated training area.

On the other hand, with VR safety training, you would put on a VR headset and be transported into a virtual petrochemical plant where you can practice responding to a simulated chemical spill. This allows you to get a more immersive and hands-on training experience without the risk of exposing yourself or others to hazardous chemicals.

For example, in the VR training scenario, you might be faced with a situation where the spill has spread to multiple areas of the plant and you need to coordinate with other team members to contain and clean up the spill. In a traditional training setting, it might be difficult or impossible to recreate this type of scenario without actually spilling hazardous chemicals.

Overall, VR safety training allows you to practice and learn in a safe and controlled environment, while also providing a more realistic and immersive learning experience. That "immersion factor" shouldn't be underestimated, because it means that VR can also be more effective at engaging and retaining employees' attention. Traditional safety training methods, such as lectures or video presentations, can be boring and may not fully capture workers' attention. Virtual reality, on the other hand, offers a more interactive and immersive experience that can hold workers' attention and encourage them to actively participate in the training.

Another benefit of VR safety training is that it can be easily customized and updated to reflect new hazards or procedures. This allows organizations to keep their safety training current and relevant, ensuring that workers are prepared to handle the latest safety challenges they may face on the job.

Whether it's for professional or personal use, virtual reality is likely to continue growing in popularity. It has a wide range of applications, from gaming and entertainment to education and training to therapy and rehabilitation. This means that there is a diverse and growing market for VR technology, as more and more people discover the benefits of using it. VR technology can provide immersive and interactive experiences that are not possible with other forms of media including allowing users to explore virtual worlds and participate in activities in a way that feels real and engaging.

In conclusion, virtual reality is truly a transformative technology with incredible potential across many domains. From mind-bending entertainment to vital safety training and beyond, VR opens up new frontiers of human experience. As it continues advancing rapidly, one can only imagine the future realms we may venture into via this powerful medium.

About the author
Dan Jones

Dan has worn many hats in the film industry, from writer, producer, and director to cinematographer, voice over artist and editor. His fascination with film, storytelling and lighting has driven him to discover more than most about the art of filmmaking. At Fireside, Dan uses both light and the written word to shape stories in unique and compelling ways.