How Does Virtual Reality Effect Our Mind and Body

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How Does Virtual Reality Effect Our Mind and Body

When Erin Bell, a software developer, was asked to step off a wooden plank, suspended over a deep pit, she was unable to do so, regardless of the encouragement from the Stanford University Research team. In reality, she was walking on a carpet, with a virtual-reality headset strapped to her head, and she knew she was safe. But even under the circumstances, she was afraid to step off the ridge. Hence, the psychological impacts of the virtual reality environment can be one of the biggest challenges of the field. Although the technology is becoming mainstream and is predicted to be available for commercial use in 2016, there are still some psychological and physical effects that are concerning for the scientists.

Samsung Electronics Co. and Google’s Alphabet Inc. have both released their virtual reality headsets, followed by much hype. Other companies, such as Sony, HTC and Facebook are also in the development phase and are planning to release high-tech virtual reality headsets for their consumers. They are promising that the customers will be able to experience a surrounding environment. Meanwhile, media and tech titans, like Walt Disney Co. and the 21st Century Fox are investing heavily into headsets, which will lay the groundwork for the production of short films that can be watched by using them.

The VR technology is one of the most hyped revelations predicted to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, and has drawn a lot of attention. Even though the marketing and sales teams are grappling over the fact that whether the consumers will pay hundreds of dollars for the VR device, its effects on the mind and body are still not known. There have been several reports of buyers experiencing nausea, eyestrains and headaches. The manufacturing companies have restricted the device from being used by children and urge their buyers to take at least a 10 minute break after every 30 minutes of use.

Moreover, customers are warned against taking part in any strenuous physical activity such driving or operating heavy machinery. Jeremy Bailenson, a professor at Stanford university who has conducted research on the subject for nearly 15 years explains the mental effects of the VR technology by saying that it can transform user behavior by changing the way they think and act, on account of the realism that it provides. Most of the developing companies state that the users will need to be careful with the technology and treat it as an experience rather than a media entertainment.

Most of the companies are intending the VR technology to provide immersive experiences that are fun, entertaining and educational to watch. Even though the field is new and evolving and faces a lot of challenges, it has a lot of potential to change other industries as well. According to the manufacturers, like every tech device, VR headsets have their upsides as well as downsides and they plan to deal with the cons on a social level. The scientists claim that the VR headset can cause nausea if the consumer moves their head at a speed greater than the VR image or video. Also, the high speed images can strain the user’s eyes and confuse the inner ear mechanism.
But most of the companies are developing motion tracking, which will decrease motion sickness. The content makers are thus, set on developing virtual worlds where you can teleport by using VR headsets, without having to travel there in person. The excitement over the VR technology has forced major corporations to invest heavily into the field and it is not predicted to die anytime soon.

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