Virtual reality has obvious applications in the field of entertainment, particularly for gaming. But there are other areas in which the ability to create an immersive visual reality, without any of the dangers associated with its real-world equivalent, can be beneficial. One interesting example is the use of VR in therapy.
A recent article on techinsider describes research being done on the use of VR in therapy for heroin addicts. The idea is to use virtual reality to recreate real-world scenarios that might trigger their addictive behaviour, but in a safe environment. This way, therapists can be on hand when the patient has a response that they might not otherwise have, unless they were out in the real world. With a heroin dealer, not a therapist, close at hand.
The potential here is that the therapist could work with the patient to develop coping mechanisms for reactions that the therapist might otherwise never see.
Another study looks at the “Feasibility of Using Virtual Reality to Assess Nicotine Cue Reactivity During Treatment.”
In either case, what we see is that the way people react to virtual reality, has a strong correlation to how they react to comparable real-world situations. The virtual-ness of the reality does not entirely diminish the reality of peoples’ responses to it.
Studies will be done about how the immersion associated with virtual reality is beneficial to other fields, such as education. Virtually going to a place, such as going to a museum or a foreign city, will be shown to have educational benefits over study materials in any other medium. The next best thing to being there!