Virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) is an artificially created digital space. The viewer is immersed in the environment mainly through sound and vision. Haptics (sense of touch) can also be part of the experience. All sense of the real world is suspended.

VR can be used in two main ways:
As a training/simulation environment
As an immersive game based environment

In terms of education, immersive technology is quite expensive and specialised, however examples in use are virtual welding rigs for nuclear subs and virtual dentistry, which allow the user to practice drilling a tooth (ouch!). In its game form Second Sight was an immersive game environment, and currently Minecraft is experiencing increased usage in education.

In industry there are many uses, the aviation business has made use of VR training simulators for pilots for several decades. With the advent of personal wearable devices, 3d environments that the user can interact with are being developed for areas like construction. These virtual simulations allow you to move around and experience the space before it is constructed.

Judy Bloxham

See also: Real Applications of Virtual Reality in Education

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