Virtual reality is gradually becoming one of the mainstream trends in the contemporary world. Many technology manufacturers are now focused on the production of their own VR devices. Commonly, such devices are viewed as tools for entertainment. However, as pointed out in an article published in Time Magazine in 2013, virtual reality has a lot of benefits to offer to the fields of healthcare, military, education, gaming, and simulation, to name a few (Terhakopian par 1-15).
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Introduction to the Topic
The rapid development and the growing popularity of virtual reality raise a logical interest concerning the advantages and disadvantages that are related to the application of this new technology in various spheres of knowledge and activities.
Did you know that just like any other modern technologies (smartphones, computers, mp3 players, for example), the technology of virtual reality is likely to enter our daily life in the near future? That is why it is important to explore what benefits and concerns are associated with its use today.
The information for this speech was taken from the most credible sources such as books, Time Magazine, and The Guardian – a world-renowned newspaper and portal.
Virtual reality is a fast-developing technology that carries a multitude of benefits for such professional fields as healthcare, education, military, versatile training, psychology, psychiatry, and entertainment; however, the technology is currently at the stage of development and has a set of weaknesses that prevent it from being widely applied.
First of all, in this speech, I will focus on the introduction of the technology of virtual reality and its description. Further, I will move on to the exploration of its benefits (current as well as potential) and the spheres where the advantages of virtual reality technology can be applied. Finally, I will move to the weaknesses of the technology, its drawbacks, and the areas that still need development.
Sherman and Craig, the authors of the book titled Understanding Virtual Reality: Interface, Application, and Design that was published in 2003, pointed out that the concept of virtual reality is tightly connected to the notion of a virtual world (7).
Did you know that the virtual world is something we face every single day? It can be encountered when you watch a film, a play in a theater, or read a book. The imaginary stories happening on the stage, screen, or in one’s imagination are defined as the virtual worlds. When it comes to virtual reality, Sherman and Craig emphasized that the major element that distinguishes it from the virtual world is immersion (7). In other words, in the virtual reality, the viewer is placed within the fictional scenario and can interact with it on a physical as well as mental level.
Benefits of Virtual Reality
Did you know that it is the physical and mental types of immersion that serve as the primary sources of all the benefits that the technology of virtual reality carries for versatile spheres of knowledge and practice? Entertainment is, probably, the first area that comes to mind when virtual reality is mentioned. In the article published in The Guardian in 2016, it is mentioned that many of the modern leading technology manufacturers are working on the creation of the VR devices for the purposes of gaming (Davis par. 1-3).
Besides, the benefits of VR are appreciated in a variety of other fields. As it was reported at the Edutainment Conference of 2011 that was held in Taiwan, one of the areas of practice that benefit from VR is psychology where it is used for work with the patients suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (Chang et al. 3). In the article published in 2005, Rizzo and Kim noted that technology allows re-creating potentially traumatic scenarios for the patients and addressing their mental health issues by means of conditioning, visualization, and rationalization.
In addition, in their book titled Virtual Reality, Training’s Future? published in 2013, Seidel and Chatelier provided a discussion of the advantages the VR technology offers to the field of education due to its capacity to enhance learning and practically take it to a higher level where the students can combine theory and practice, be placed in various educational situations to demonstrate decision-making, and have a hands-on experience with new equipment (31). In that way, VR can help advance the learning of medical students, technicians, machinery operators, military employees in training, to name a few.
Weaknesses of Virtual Reality Technology
In the article published in The Guardian in 2016, it is noted that the modern VR devices used in different fields have a variety of adverse side-effects such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, seizures, and even troubled hand-eye coordination (Davis par. 3). Moreover, there may be a number of long-term effects that have not been revealed yet. In the same article, it is stated that the prolonged use of modern VR devices is known to cause a significant level of discomfort (par. 3-7). In that way, there is a concern that the long-term effects of the use of VR devices may be quite dangerous.
Virtual reality is a rapidly developing and promising technology. Potentially, it could be applied in a wide range of fields such as education and learning, military, healthcare, psychology, and entertainment. However, it is currently at the stage of development and has multiple disadvantages and side effects (adverse short-term impacts on the health of the users and unresearched long-term impacts).
Chang, Maiga et al. Edutainment Technologies. Educational Games and Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Applications: 6th International Conference on E-learning and Games, Edutainment 2011, Taipei, Taiwan, Proceedings. Springer Science & Business Media, 2011.
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Davis, Nicola. “Long-Term Effects of Virtual Reality Use Need More Research, Say Scientists.” The Guardian. 2016, n.p.
Seidel, Robert J. and Paul R. Chatelier. Virtual Reality, Training’s Future?: Perspectives on Virtual Reality and Related Emerging Technologies. Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.
Sherman, William R. and Alan B. Craig. Understanding Virtual Reality: Interface, Application, and Design. Morgan Kaufmann, 2003.
Rizzo, Albert and Gerard Kim. “A SWOT Analysis of the Field of Virtual Reality Rehabilitation and Therapy.” Presence, vol. 14, no. 2, 2005, pp. 119–146
Terhakopian, Artin. “Embracing Virtual Reality.” Time. 2013, n.p.