A New World With VR

Virtual Reality isn’t as a new concept as people might think. It was first found in an American science fiction story back in 1935, while the first actual VR Head-mounted display (HMD), named The Sword of Damocles, was invented in 1968. Since then, many have tried to research it, develop its use, and even sell VR equipment but the market wasn’t ready yet and of course, the knowledge and technology were lacking. VR started gaining traction again in 2015 where some of its applications became widely available to the public. Today, it is a 4.8 billion U.S. dollars industry with massive players such as Facebook, Sony, Google, Nintendo and more. It is projected to reach more than 12 billion U.S dollars by 2024.


Although this article won’t get into the technical side of VR (here is a guide for those interested), it is important to know the basics of its functionality. When a person wears a VR headset they are immersed into a virtual world where their movements are mimicked, and they are detached from the outside environment. Because of that, VR is most encountered in the gaming industry, where the user becomes part of the game. Imagine being able to be the hero of your favourite game! That itself seems revolutionary and to some, overwhelming, yet the possibilities that arise from it go beyond just entertainment. VR is transforming the world as we know it, drastically changing many aspects of our lives.




VR’s impact on healthcare is crucial and multidimensional. It presents us with a world of more efficient diagnostics and medical training as well as different approaches to mental health treatments, rehabilitation, and pain relief. VR technology is being used for the diagnosis of cognitive disorders to vision-related diseases. In conjunction with other methods such as MRIs and X-rays, it enables doctors to diagnose patients without the need for procedures or related surgery. Speaking of surgery, VR technology allows students and doctors-to-be, perform “virtual surgeries in a safe environment where they can practice complex cases and develop their skills before engaging in a real operation. That alone does not only translate to more experienced doctors, it is also a more cost-effective way of training.

VR technology isn’t just used to diagnose diseases but to also treat them. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy is considered a way of helping treat PTSD and various phobias, such as fear of heights, claustrophobia and many more. It is also an effective method to treat anxiety and depression. Finally, disruptive healthcare companies use VR for rehabilitation and as a way to relieve pain.


Military training


As mentioned earlier, VR can be a great environment for high-risk training. It is currently applied in combination with physical training in the army, navy, and air force. Flight simulations, combat training, navy training, and war simulations, are amongst its most popular uses. To gain a better understanding of how this works here’s a short video of the US Royal Marines training using virtual reality.


Interesting is the fact that NASA is way ahead of the game and was the first to actually use VR simulations for training astronauts back in the 90s.


Shopping, Marketing & Advertising


If anyone told us a few decades ago that we’ll be able to virtually try clothes when shopping online, we would have laughingly replied that this is a scenario only found in science fiction movies. Today, eBay has created the world’s first VR Department store while companies like ASOS, GOAT, and Ikea use AR or VR to allow customers to try clothes on themselves, on different body types, or just project how a product would look in their space.


That could not only change the way we shop forever but could also revolutionise the customer’s journey. Let’s take as an example a family that wants to book a hotel for their holidays. VR technology enables them to see the rooms of the hotel as if they were there. They would get a better sense of how it looks and feels being there, which would result in a higher chance of booking.


It is also worth mentioning that companies like Facebook are trialling ads in VR headsets. Although first trials weren’t that successful, that could lead to a new path of targeting customers.




VR can enhance the process of conceptualisation. Companies like Tilt Brush offer a virtual space for people to unleash their creativity and create anything the human mind can imagine. Apart from art that could serve as a tool for fashion and furniture design. Construction and architecture are industries that are similarly benefiting from VR technology. IrisVR is the first platform for the building industry that allows people to work and design together from anywhere in the world.


Learning – Education


Interactive worlds serve as a perfect medium to create educational experiences. Learning history at school would be much easier and considerably more interesting if students could virtually visit Ancient Greece, Rome or the countless other places in eras of historical significance themselves. Platforms similar to Unimersiv offer that possibility. Further exciting applications include people practising their soft skills and technical skills such as driving.


Social Impact


One of the most interesting facts we discovered, is that VR can be a way of raising awareness for social issues. Research from Stanford showed that VR could affect the levels of people’s empathy and positively change their behaviour. Specifically, part of the research was showing some people “Becoming Homeless”, a short VR experience that takes them into various interactive scenarios with them losing their jobs and what would follow. The results revealed that participants who were part of that experience had greater odds of maintaining a positive mindset towards homeless people than participants who only read a narrative or watched a 2D version of the scenario.



Years ago, all the above might have seemed impossible, yet technology keeps surprising us, creating endless new horizons for us to evolve and improve. VR technology is helping us become more effective and resilient while realizing that we still have plenty of space to grow. Only one thing is unquestionable, today the world is a different place than it was yesterday and than it will be tomorrow.


By Annita Xenou