Virtual Reality – The Worlds of the Future
Augmented reality and virtual reality are two different things, which will have a big impact on the future of the human race. Augmented reality is technology which enhances the real world, for example, Pokémon Go. This overlays virtual elements onto the world itself, and people interact with that. This is very common. Snapchat and Instagram filters, for example, are examples of Augmented Reality.
Virtual reality is like a different world on top of reality. You enter it using a virtual reality headset, and it’s completely different from the place we currently inhabit. It’s being used across the world in many ways, notably, in tourism, for example.
These have both been around for around 30 years. They started off as military technologies and then were picked up by the entertainment and gaming space, launching them to the popularity with which we see them today.
Currently there is no fully immersive virtual reality system. There are very sophisticated sets, however they still require the headset and finger pads or controllers to be able to interact with the virtual worlds. Even considering those sets, the majority of users have only got access to virtual reality through their phones.
However, it’s good to consider what might happen if virtual reality is mixed with wearable technology. We are familiar with the benefits of biotechnology. Prosthetic bionic limbs enable people to regain the lost functionality of original limbs. Pacemakers keep hearts beating rhythmically. These all revert the human body to a state in which it functions or looks as it would if it were organically grown.
We are moving beyond using technology to support the current state of our bodies, and heading into using technology to expand our capabilities, allowing our bodies to do things they never would be able to naturally. Gee, Ho and Raab from Time.com predict "microchips in nail polish or even embedded under the fingernails themselves will allow smart contact lenses to track your movements, enable a keyboard function for virtual screens, give you the ability to draw virtually in three dimensions, or provide real-time haptic feedback for holographic interactions with your friends"
When you think about it, this makes sense. Our bodies evolved to interact with our environment. The digital world is a whole new landscape - a literal environment that we currently access through a computer. Is it such a leap to think that we will begin to enhance our bodies so that we can directly access that world? The human race, exploring and utilising online worlds of our own creation.
Examples of transhumanist technologies include subdermal RFID chips, which would allow wearers to unlock anything from doors to computers by scanning
their hand. Another example can be found in BMIs. According to Forbes, “both wearable and implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) are in development from organizations that include Elon Musk’s Neuralink, Facebook, and DARPA. These devices will dramatically alter the ways in which we communicate with each other, as well as digital devices”. BMIs would allow you to directly transfer your felt experience of something to someone. Instead of showing them a photo, you allow them access to the sensory experience of the moment.
With technology moving in this direction, who knows where we will all end up!
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