on June 26th, 2023

Discover the astonishing and peculiar applications of virtual reality beyond gaming, from medical breakthroughs to animal behavior studies and more.

Virtual reality (VR) technology has revolutionized gaming, unveiling possibilities beyond mere entertainment. These extraordinary digital landscapes have been entangled in a tapestry of unconventional applications, ranging from the peculiar to the awe-inspiring.

From medical breakthroughs to the logic and reasoning of aquatic animals, VR has proven to be a tool of immense potential. Although the ethical implications of these advancements remain a topic of ongoing debate, one undeniable truth prevails: virtual reality stands as a catalyst that is reshaping the fabric of our world.

The following five examples glimpse the ever-expanding repertoire of astonishing and peculiar applications that VR has brought to the forefront.

Transforming Phobia Treatment

Virtual reality has emerged as a valuable tool in treating phobias, offering new hope for those affected by these common mental disorders. According to researchers, the app oVRcome utilizes VR exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, yielding highly promising results. Patients with phobias such as needles, flying, or dogs experienced an impressive average symptom reduction of 75% after six weeks.

Cameron Lacey, a psychological researcher from New Zealand, highlighted the app’s acceptability and potential to deliver accessible and cost-effective treatment on a large scale, particularly benefiting individuals unable to access in-person exposure therapy for their phobias.

VR Robot Takes Kids on Zoo Adventures

In a heartwarming project called “Robots for Good,” a compassionate community has brought virtual zoo visits to children at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. They 3D-printed a humanoid robot that can navigate the zoo, controlled remotely by a child at the hospital.

The robot, connected to an Oculus Rift VR headset, allows the children to experience the zoo as their own avatars and interact with the animals. This blend of robotics and virtual reality creates a remarkable and enriching experience, bringing the animal kingdom’s beauty to young patients’ hospital rooms.

Exploring Zebrafish Brain Behavior

RIKEN Center for Brain Science researchers utilized VR technology to study zebrafish’s predictive abilities. Using an advanced aquarium integrated with VR and brain imaging, the team focused on the telencephalon region responsible for decision-making.

Zebrafish were presented with blue and red VR zones representing safety and danger. The study revealed their ability to navigate risks by forming a “hazard map” in their brains. Lead researcher Hitoshi Okamoto highlighted the reliance of animals on past experiences to shape future decisions. The study sheds light on zebrafish’s cognitive mechanisms in assessing risks and ensuring survival.

Embark on an Ayahuasca Journey

Ayahuasca, a revered hallucinogenic potion from South America, has gained popularity worldwide. Developers have created a virtual reality experience to replicate its effects. However, the authenticity and transformative nature of this VR Ayahuasca remains to be determined. According to journalist Edith Zimmerman, the VR encounter felt surreal and more like an exotic getaway than a profound journey.

The debate continues on whether VR can truly emulate the profound and transformative qualities of the real Ayahuasca experience. While the VR version may provide an intriguing diversion, it remains to be seen if it can capture the essence and impact of the traditional substance.

Revive Your Past Memories

California-based company Wist Labs has introduced a groundbreaking virtual reality application that enables users to revisit and relive their recorded memories through a smartphone. Unveiled in 2023, the Wist Immersive Memories app empowers individuals to preserve their cherished “memories” and engage with their past experiences using a smartphone, mobile augmented reality, or a VR headset.

While the app has garnered praise for its innovative capabilities, some critics have raised concerns, drawing parallels to dystopian depictions like the Tom Hanks film “Minority Report” and the acclaimed episode “The Entire History of You” from the series “Black Mirror.” This episode depicts a speculative future where memory implants allow individuals to rewatch any fragment of their lives. However, as the story unfolds, concealed truths surface, ultimately leading to the main characters’ relationship disintegration.

REFERENCES
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy Can Help People Overcome Phobias
This Robot Will Let Kids In Hospital Explore Zoos Through Virtual Reality
Zebrafish in Virtual Reality Experiment Predict the Future To Avoid Danger
Virtual Reality Ayahuasca Was Like a Weird Vacation From Myself
VR App Reminiscent of Black Mirror Lets You Relive Your Memories

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