Our ability to communicate with each other is a big part of what makes us human. In the last little while, we’ve been enhancing this ability with modern technology. Most recently, virtual reality (VR) has been making strides, beginning to affect different aspects of our lives, including the way we work and communicate.
Not that long ago, VR was consigned to video gaming technology, but it has quickly evolved into a tool for interpersonal connection.
The innovation can be mind-boggling. Just imagine lounging at home while socializing with your friends and business partners across the globe — with the help of VR. This may sound unbelievable, but that is what VR has done for us.
VR is an astounding innovation that has positively affected our lives. Here are 5 unconventional ways it is changing the way we work and communicate.
1. The recording industry.
Have you noticed how people listen to the music these days? Almost everyone is using headphones.
But not that long ago, people found it annoying listening to the music through headphones. It was mostly because of how sound was delivered. With loudspeakers, you usually perceive the music to be in front of or around you, but with headphones, you hear it within your head. VR audio engineering has corrected this defect by using processing algorithms to recreate what happens between the loudspeakers and the ears in the form of binaural recording.
A typical binaural recording unit has two high-fidelity microphones. They are mounted in a dummy head, inset in ear-shaped molds to fully capture all the audio frequency adjustments — known in the psychoacoustic research community as head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) — that happen naturally as sound wraps around the human head and is “shaped” by the outer and inner ears.
2. The medical industry.
Surgeons have been using VR technology to enhance their skills. Complicated and delicate surgical procedures are greatly aided by this technology.
For example, doctors can take scans of the heart and other organs and upload them to a computer. They can then tour the scan with a virtual reality headset, studying it in depth. This enables surgeons to plan and practice the required surgical procedures ahead of time, saving more lives as a result.
3. The communication industry.
Nothing enhances our well-being like a genuine connection with another human being. It is key to good communication, understanding and cooperation. VR enables you to achieve that even if you are not in the same room with another person.
According to Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, “VR takes all the gadgets away, it takes all the multitasking away and you actually feel like you’re with someone. We call this social presence — you see their emotions, you see their gestures and it feels just like you’re in the room with them. It takes what is typically seen as something that’s unemotional and distant and makes it feel like somebody’s right there with you.”
4. The education sector.
VR is enhancing classroom learning as well. Teachers are able to use pre-programmed avatars, or digital representations of the user, to create a virtual world — a computer-based environment through which users interact with each other.
Abstract topics are now represented in ways that make them look simple and appealing to the students.
What is more, VR technology has made significant improvements in learning by enabling students to revisit lessons multiple times to reinforce their understanding of taught concepts. Additionally, it encourages a better social interaction between students and puts them in control of their avatars.