In this techno-fuelled, 21st-century world, Virtual Reality (VR) is quickly becoming actual reality. And with our limited degree of human awareness, VR is penetrating multiple aspects of our lives, from online education to social interaction to live events to attending funerals. At the click of a button, live-streamed happenings can now be accessed all day, every day, with remote participation effectively becoming the new normal.
VR-based events show no sign of slowing, mainly because their real-time ability allows people to learn and interact while lying on the sofa with a mug of tea. With this modern use of VR, the nation can effortlessly coordinate and promote immeasurable volumes of events and activities every day, with supporters leveraging technology to assist with “detached participation”—a highly modern convenience. We can already see this phenomenon through the “Happening Now” feature on many social media platforms, which drives our sense of urgency and all-around FOMO even more.
Attending a Virtual Funeral
The digital landscape of 2018 is a competitive one and provides online alternatives for almost any imaginable thing, even the demise of a loved one. That’s right—this century’s technological capability means geographically-challenged grievers can now “attend” the funeral of a loved one through a live stream. And not just in their own town, city, or state, but anywhere in the world. The bereaved can log into a dedicated webcast with a provided ID and password that ensures security-based privacy— a vital detail to remember with all the non-secure websites these days.
It’s fair to say, web-based funerals leave themselves open to vulnerability through interruption to live feeds, which, as you can imagine, is not ideal under these difficult circumstances. Social media has significantly transformed the way we process and deal with death—through the sharing of infographics, content, and video that support an individual’s grief. Social media leaves a footprint of life events, thoughts, and associated emotions with social media profiles of the deceased paying tribute to them and becoming their virtual online legacy. While it’s unlikely we will see a decrease in the future of face-to-face funerals, live streaming of such proceedings will surely become more available through funeral parlors and other vendors, creating a way to increase attendance.
Learning In a Virtual School
This type of new-wave technology has transformed education too. Opportunities to enroll in high-quality online learning, along with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), are continuously growing and raising the enrollment numbers of students seeking flexible working hours and an education that supports their need to earn a living. In fact, Orbis Research predicts the Global eLearning Market will expand to more than $275 billion in value by 2022.
MOOCs are expected to revolutionize the education system, as tutors regularly produce videos and online learning courses to aid our learning. While video communication has proved to be a valuable and widely-used resource, certain features of the underlying technology have limited our ability to customize certain materials for both the teacher and the student. The industry, however, is verging on advanced improvements through the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), sensors, and VR.
This type of machine learning in the classroom has a level of sophistication that can monitor, track, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of students, consequently tailoring each class and learning objective specifically to them, while delivering more teaching flexibility for traditional learners through various devices like tablets, headsets, and visual stimuli. Learning through VR Headsets allows students to animate subjects such as design and construction. Students can also better understand recorded history and culture while virtually entering the minds of designers and promoting learning through emotional engagement.
The Benefits of Virtual Sensors
Advanced sensors are used across various subjects, including music and art. These sensors monitor the dilation and expansion of a student’s pupils, their eye movement, and any other small changes to the individual’s tone of voice. This information is then used to conclude the student’s overall emotional position and their understanding of the subject in question. The use of advanced sensors is supported by a non-requirement for exams and no time stipulations for learning. AI feeds this data back to the human teachers and advises them on next steps, effectively freeing up the instructor to listen, guide, and develop a students ability to think—to teach—sharing observations gained through AI feedback. This elevated level of emotional engagement is believed to distinguish the difference between human and AI capabilities.
Although we don’t currently see many VR headsets being used in school, the ability is already there—and to some extent, our emotions can already be observed through our smartphones and digital devices. In 2016, the Oculus Rift VR headset cost $1,798 for the total set up; however, today’s price is just $399—and in a couple of years from now, it is predicted to be less than $100, with competition from Google, Lenovo, and Magic Leap driving purchase prices down. Not only will the unimaginable become a reality—it may also become affordable. And strong evidence suggests key areas of our humanity (and the events they generate) like education, art, and death will soon expand in a way that doesn’t necessarily replace traditional methods, but instead enhances them by sitting in harmony with more conventional approaches.