By: Gavin Yakuse-Duffy
Virtual reality technology has been gaining momentum. The release of the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear and the PlayStation VR are a sign these devices are making their way into everyday life. Three industries in particular that are making strides with the technology are education, medicine and journalism.
Joshua Maldonado, co-founder of Discovr Labs, said he sees VR as having the possibility to fundamentally change how the education system works. “It is going to do what the Internet did for information.” Discovr Labs is a company dedicated to the creation of a more immersive and complete learning experience, through the use of VR.
Since its establishment in 2015, Maldonado says he’s seen improvements in every classroom that has used the technology. Kids often retain 80 per cent more information than through reading, because VR is more engaging. Discovr’s simulations allow students to interact with historical places, including ancient Egypt. This gives them the opportunity to walk around and explore famous sites, such as King Tut’s tomb.
Maldonado said children aren’t the only ones seeing the rewards of this technology; adults preparing to enter the workforce are also benefitting. He said in the medical field, VR is closing the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, allowing life-threatening scenarios to play out in a completely safe environment.
Meanwhile in the journalism industry, these technologies are starting to be used to revolutionize storytelling. CBC News anchor Mike Wise is teaching emerging technologies in his journalism class at Humber College. He said the purpose of his class is to expose students to technologies that will be prevalent by the time they graduate.
Wise also said some of the best stories he’s seen have used VR to transport people to a different place and capture the emotion within the story. He said stories are more moving when experienced with the use of a headset, versus just watching it on a desktop. Google has 360-video, but Wise said the experience is completely different in VR. “It transports a person there.”
Wise added that journalism’s future with VR is unknown. Getting this technology into the hands of consumers is difficult because of the headset’s high cost, but the ability to create tremendous stories is there. He said VR is more likely to be used in niche, rather than core, programmes. “I don’t see The National in 360 any time.”