1) Mainstreaming remote healthcare
Imagine a prominent New York surgeon performing life-saving surgery on a U.S. soldier who is located in Afghanistan—without the doctor ever leaving Manhattan. The surgeon dons a VR headset to gain a high-resolution, 360° view of the remote patient and robotic arms with a sensory system enable him to perform the surgery.
Although VR is currently used to train surgeons remotely, and robotic arms have become extremely accurate, we’ve yet to see the above scenario put into mainstream medical practice. However, thanks to VR and telesurgery technology, we aren’t far off from it becoming a game-changing tool for connecting patients with medical specialists in completely different geographic locations. Of course, the opportunities for remote healthcare go beyond the military example—think of any patient without the health or means required to travel.
Is the next step unassisted robotic surgery—with no human intervention? Only time will tell.
2) Virtual tourism
Let’s say you sit on the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board for your country. What’s one way to convince tourists to spend time and money in your great land? Bring it to them in the form of an irresistible, luring preview. Give them a high-resolution, high-sensory, 360° experience.
Putting traditional, one-dimensional travel videos to shame, VR is second only to being there. Although some VR travel apps exist, we’ve yet to see a comprehensive U.S. tourism teaser that puts you in the heart of Times Square, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Rocky Mountains, Disneyland, Golden Gate Bridge and beyond.
3) 360 degree online education
The number of students taking online courses has grown to 5.8 million in the U.S., according to Survey Research Group. The same report suggests that, while enrollment is up, faculty confidence in online courses is down. Only 29.1% of chief academic officers surveyed report that their faculty accepts "the value and legitimacy of online education."
As compared to students using a laptop to view (or not view due to distractions) online lectures, VR headsets put pupils in an elevated state of engagement. Educational VR platforms can give teachers the opportunity to create their own virtual lessons—with interactive whiteboards, virtual field trips and streaming media. As online courses grow in popularity, VR can transcend how teachers teach and students learn.
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