Take a look outside and you'll see students zipping around campus on “hover boards”, cars maneuvering parallel parking and driving themselves, and personal drones taking to the skies for the ultimate “selfie”. Take a closer look indoors and you'll find people plugging into unexplored realms of virtual reality. Certainly the future is now!
Virtual reality (VR) is a familiar fictional convention made popular from movies such as Tron, Back to the Future, The Matrix, and Minority Report. But today VR is more than just fiction, it is a reality that has already been fully conceived and in practice (albeit limitedly) since the 80s. In 2016, there has been an enormous resurgence in popularity for VR headsets. Entering virtual reality is more realistic and accessible than ever before, and consumers ought to be well-informed before diving in headfirst.
Facebook's Oculus Rift, Sony's PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive are the most dominant VR headsets currently on the market. These head-mounted displays utilize a combination of cameras, head tracking technologies, and controllers with feedback to transport users to different locations or entirely new worlds—all from within the comfort of their own homes.
Companies such as Samsung and Google have also jumped on the VR train allowing consumers to take advantage of their cell phone's high resolution screen to experience virtual reality. With the proliferation of VR capable devices, streaming-service titans such as Netflix and Hulu are beginning to provide VR content. Even live events like NBA games, NASCAR races, and concerts can be viewed in VR. Though this new wave of VR popularity is still young, it appears that its momentum is growing and VR is here to stay.
The uses for virtual reality go beyond video games and entertainment, however. The military has been using VR for training simulators since the technology first emerged. Virtual reality is also having an impact on healthcare ranging from medical education to patient therapy.
Most recently, there has even been an effort to bring virtual reality headsets into the courtroom! Lamber and Goodnow at Fennemore Craig PC in Phoenix are leading the way to allow jurors to view evidence through the immersive lenses of virtual reality. The effects of virtual reality on the legal landscape, especially in personal injury cases, could be immense. Going beyond blown-up boards, entire accidents and crime scenes could be accurately recreated and jurors could “see” the moment an incident took place.
Of course, virtual reality experiences would still be subject to what is deemed admissible by the judge. And VR may not appear in the courtroom for several more years considering its hefty price tag of $15,000 and up.