With new developments in technology, there are lot of speculations and hype surrounding immersive reality and artificial intelligence considering these were the highly sophisticated tech that we used to see in sci-fi movies and now are becoming quite real.

Virtual reality uses all of our senses to create a perception of real world. It engages all our senses in a computer generated simulation which feels quite real. The amount of money that people are investing on this upcoming technology confirms that virtual reality would define the way we perceive our future world. In gaming and entertainment world, virtual reality gives the user a more immersive experience of being part of the simulation. It can provide even an inanimate object life and a world of its own.

Even Facebook is developing Facebook Reality Labs which utilizes virtual reality to create lifelike avatars that will help the users to establish social connections with other people. They give the argument that VR would help people to establish meaningful connections with people living far away from each other.

For someone who wants to recreate a particular nostalgic childhood moment, hang out with friends that are in different parts of world, take virtual tours of cities that you plan to visit and virtually construct buildings, monuments or houses virtual reality would help you to do all this and more.

Technology is fascinating and it has not only captured our imagination but also given us an escape. You can be present in one place physically but mentally you might be immersed in your phone and your own virtual world. This escapist tendencies are highlighted by VR which gives you an immersive alternative world to escape the real life situations and become the part of virtual reality. While it can be argued that escapism is provided by other media as well such as movies, TV, books, etc. we need to keep in mind that none of them involves engaging all of our senses as VR does.

While living a virtual life might be exciting, it needs to be acknowledged that our body is not made for long hours of extensive use of this technology. Our body cannot withstand long hours of VR and experiences cybersickness which can last for hours after continual use of VR.

Virtual reality will also impact the behaviour of humans which will be in contrast to what they portray in reality. Virtual reality will not be bound by societal constraints and limitations, it will have its own environment where people can behave in harmful ways. This can already be seen in social media where people behave in certain way which is quite opposite to their character in real life. This has led to cases of cybercrime which are quite shocking.  Such legitimate concerns can also be applied to virtual reality where the human use of it will determine its impact.

Even though the virtual reality tries to bridge the distance between people and brings them close in a simulated environment there is also a nagging question of what about the real world.? The real concern is what would be the psychological impacts of VR on the humans: would they disassociate from their reality completely or will it help them to overcome their anxiety, depression, etc.
All these questions will be answered when the virtual reality pervades every household and becomes intrinsic part of our lives the way internet did.

Image credits:  J. M. Eddins Jr/US Air Force

Antriksha Pathania
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