How Virtual Reality Can help you to improve your Health?

In 2018, the virtual reality market is estimated to be worth around 27 billion US dollars. Fast-forward four years to 2020 and this figure is expected to exceed 209 billion. This phenomenal explosion in popularity of the virtual reality headset, a technology that was once lauded as outlandish, is largely due to its expansion to a plethora of industries.

A brief history of VR technology

Although virtual reality or augmented reality seems like an ultra futuristic technology, its foundations were laid as early as 1838 with the infamous stereoscope. This led to the creation of a simple flight simulator that was used to train pilots to navigate turbulence. Despite this simple objective, the creators of the technology quickly realized it could do more. The device was so realistic that it could accurately mimica flight on board an actual fighter jet. Even so, the concepts we now know as ‘virtual reality’ and ‘virtual reality gear’ only came to being in the 1980’s when VPL Research began experimenting with gloves and headpieces that could simulate an otherworldly experience. In the 1990’s VR was introduced to gamers, allowing them to view cool graphics in an arcade environment.

VR and Mental Health

These days VR is no longer just for gamers. Research obtained by suggests that members of the medical community are taking note, appreciating the potential of this experimental technology to promote both mental and physical health. With regards to mental well-being, VR can be used as a mechanism to release stress and reduce anxiety by distracting and calming the mind. It can count as a form of meditation or mindfulness, which has been a hot topic in recent years.

Beyond relaxation techniques, VR has been used to treat complex psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. This works by immersing the user into an environment to relive traumatic events in a controlled way. It has been shown to lower the fear threshold as well as drastically reduce flashbacks and panic attacks.

VR Gyms

The next frontier for VR is gyms. There are already gyms that are trialling VR headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus especially in the context of improving the performance of high-end athletes. The prediction is that VR will make exercising irresistible as it combines gaming with high intensity activity such as boxing or body-building. This appears to provide a solution to the problem that many non-athletes often grapple with: Motivation to work out.

The projections

Although every trend suggests that sales of virtual reality headsets are going to keep growing exponentially, there are a few things to bear in mind. This technology is constantly evolving and the market leaders are developing even more sophisticated models to bring to market. In addition, the most high calibre virtual reality headsets remain very expensive, which makes them unaffordable for the majority of the public. There are cheaper versions available, which are ideal for gaming and home use, but they won’t let you soar to the spectacular heights of a state of the art model.

Other areas where we’re likely to see VR appear include the corporate world, where the applications include use in staff training as well as to inject physical and mental stimulation into the working day. Another industry that is excited about VR is the fashion industry, which can use alternate reality to fuel their creative ambition. Finally, there’s science. The full scientific scope of VR is yet to be properly researched and once it becomes truly mainstream there will be plenty of questions waiting to be answered. How does this technology affect our mental health in the long run? Can it be used to solve some of the most bewildering questions we face in physics? Will it allow us to find cures to some of the most difficult diseases?

While we await answers to these questions and more, we can safely say, the next few years will mark the beginning of the new VR era.