It seems that the number of weird uses for virtual reality is growing by the day. Virtual art, virtual concerts, virtual history, virtual shopping - the list goes on and on. And although most people think of VR as just a fancy new console for video games, there are those who are truly embracing the abilities of this new technology in inventive and completely unexpected ways.
With the power to insert a real person into a virtual world of your own design comes the power to play God. What kind of world do you want to make for them? What experiences should you bestow upon them? Do you want to reanimate a dead historical figure for teaching purposes? Or would you put them into the middle of a war zone, and see if they have what it takes to be a soldier? The possibilities are truly limitless.
Let's take a dive into virtual waters and explore some of the strangest ways VR is being used.
To Make an Old Rollercoaster Feel Like a New One
Got an old rollercoaster that you're bored with, but just can't bring yourself to demolish? Virtual reality has got you covered! As Six Flags Over Texas has done with the Shockwave, riders are given a VR headset that provides an entirely new experience during the ride. In the case of the Shockwave (re-dubbed The New Revolution), the VR playback makes riders feel as though they're piloting jet fighters in an aerial battle with invading space aliens.
To Get Your Head Chopped Off
Ever fantasize about what it would be like to have your head separated from your body by a guillotine? Yeah, me either. Just keep reading anyway.
A small team has created a VR app that will place the user directly under the imposing edge of the French Revolution's favorite crowd pleaser. While waiting for execution, you can look around and see the crowd's reaction. To complete the experience, someone is tasked with impacting your neck at the time the blade comes down. But they use a non-edged implement. If that's not authentic enough for you, you probably have more important concerns than VR innovations, and should focus on those.
To Ease the Pain
Virtual reality healthcare company DeepStream VR claims to be developing a way to use VR immersion to combat short-term and chronic pain. The applications they've created transport the user to a relaxing, peaceful world where they can interact with friendly creatures. The experience is meant to tap into and maximize the brain's natural abilities to reduce pain.
To Give Yourself a Migraine
Ever wish you could experience the intense pain of a migraine headache at will? Yeah, me either. Keep reading anyway.
The brilliant minds at Excedrin have created a VR experience that simulates the bright lights, disorienting sound, and general unpleasantness of having a migraine. The purpose is to show non-sufferers what it's like for those who do suffer the affliction. The purpose is NOT, of course, to develop a way to create migraines in more of the population in order to sell more Excedrin. Where do you come up with these ideas??
To Experience the Story of Jesus Christ
If you loved The Passion of the Christ, but feel like you just can't get that real religious experience unless you're standing underneath the cross, blood pooling around your feet, then this VR experience is for you! Autumn Productions and VRWERX have created a 90-minute virtual retelling of the New Testament. With 360-degree video, you'll be able to look all around every scene, including Christ's birth, death, resurrection, and turning water into wine. Sorry, the technology hasn't evolved enough to allow you to imbibe said wine.
To Preserve the Integrity of a Crime Scene Forever
Imagine if jurors on a criminal case could take a walk around the crime scene on their own two feet, preserved exactly as it was when the police found it, while counsel points out the evidence of note. This is the future of the justice system as envisioned by some of the minds at Staffordshire University.
By having first responders record the crime scene in VR, there will forever remain a virtual replica of the area, unmarred by time and human error. This VR simulation can be used by jurors or police investigating the crime years later.
To Swap Bodies with the Opposite Sex
You know that one immature male friend you have that insists that if he were a woman, he would just stay home and play with his breasts all day? Well, he soon may be able to do just that!
On a more serious note, the Gender Swap experiment by the good people at BeAnotherLab uses virtual reality to allow men and women to experience one another's bodies. The process entails both male and female users equipping a VR helmet that inputs the sensory perception of the other person. By synchronizing movements, it would appear to each of them that they've swapped bodies.
To Learn Not to Piss Yourself on Stage
A relatively simple, but brilliant virtual reality application already on the market allows those afraid of public speaking to overcome that fear. Created by VirtualSpeech, the Public Speaking app places the user in an environment where they are front and center, with an audience of realistic virtual beings listening to their every word. With practice, the user can become comfortable in front of both virtual and flesh-and-blood spectators.