Virtual Reality…or at least the virtual reality that we know today began somewhere back in 2012 when a teenage kid by the name of Palmer Luckey started a Kickstarter campaign for his VR headset, The Oculus Rift, that raised $2.4 million. Two years later, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, bought Palmer’s company for $2 billion.
Now that the very short history lesson is over the question comes up “Will Virtual Reality change your life?” Virtual reality is no longer just about video gaming; it holds promise as nothing short of revolutionary for just about every other industry, as well. Today we are going to focus on the healthcare industry.
Healthcare is one of the biggest adopters of virtual reality which encompasses surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery and skills training. One of the advantages of this technology is that it allows healthcare professionals to learn new skills as well as refreshing existing ones in a safe environment. Plus it allows this without causing any danger to the patients. So if you get worried about young baby faced student teachers coming in to treat you, very soon you will have to worry no more.
One of the biggest uses with VR is in robotic surgery. This is where surgery is performed by means of a robotic device controlled by a human surgeon, which reduces time and risk of complications. Virtual reality has also been used for training purposes, and in the field of remote telesurgery, in which surgery is performed by the surgeon at a separate location to the patient. The main feature of this system is force feedback, as the surgeon needs to be able to gauge the amount of pressure to use when performing a delicate procedure.
As with every new technology, of course, there are some issues of time delay or latency which is a serious concern as any delay, even a fraction of a second, can throw a surgeon and interrupt the procedure. Hence there needs to be precise force feedback in place to prevent this.
Another great use for virtual reality is in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) with veterans or really anyone with the symptom. Clinicians can place patients within realistic and immersive scenes that can trigger anxieties or fear within the patient. The patient can then be guided through the scene so that they can cope with the situation within which they are placed.
All in all this is a very new technology that is just getting the ice burg tipped in its applications. And as said before, with any new technology there are going to be kinks. In the digital age we live in it is great to know that a technology mainly invented for gaming and the potential for an augmented life out side our own. People much smarter than me can take it and adapt it to help people and potentially make their lives better. How do you feel about Virtual Reality? Would you use it to help change your life?