What if You Cannot Travel?
I was hit with Crones disease, and like most, spent a few months in the hospital when it first hit. I remember looking out the window as the world went by, watching other people enjoy the season change from winter to spring. Of course, that is nothing to millions who suffer chronically and would love to just get out of the hospital or hospice for a while. If anything, just to escape those same four walls for a little bit. Already, some content is being assembled for bedridden people suffering from debilitating ailments like children battling terrible illnesses and the elderly whose bodies prohibit them from fulfilling their dream, like seeing the Great Wall of China. As more content is developed, perhaps more of these avenues of “escape” can make some people’s lives more bearable.
If there is one industry that has many uses for 360 mixed reality, its education. At bThere, we have talked to and have been working with many who want to offer this new technology to add experiences beyond the classroom. Imagine, not just a one-off video of a subject, but a whole series, deliberately dedicated to a single subject matter. Students could methodically travel to different parts of the world and truly have them engage in cultures that they would never be able to visit. Or, a set of experiences that allow engineering students to understand the mechanics inside a device. Biology students could understand the complexities and mechanics inside an organism. Rather than studying static pictures, or video with limited interaction, an entirely new way of learning through experiencing a subject could excite imaginations that are currently struggling with traditional methods.
Any budding student of international affairs, will quickly conclude that the complications of the world are a challenge that cannot be naively solved by one silver-bullet solution. Some of those issues could be blamed on nature. Nature has bred into all living things the predisposition to be cautious, even fearful of someone unfamiliar. Whether it’s my neighbor’s dog who barks at everyone who walks by their home, or it’s an unfamiliar people group from the other side of the world (or the other side of town depending on where you live), the longer people remain foreign, the longer tensions remain. Remember the attacks in Paris last year? I remember our family felt a real sense of loss and connectedness because we had just visited earlier the year before; something others who had never been to Paris, could relate. Imagine if millions more had virtually walked the streets earlier, had perspective of where things were and had virtually explored some of the quaint back alleys where the events took place. Just maybe, as this technology starts to make the world and its cultures a more accessible to all, would it be too much of a stretch of faith to believe that it could be part of a recipe toward bringing people together through walking a little bit “in their shoes”?
There is no doubt, that Virtual Reality and other 360 mixed reality content will be used for incredible commercial uses that have not been currently imagined. Many will invest and many more will profit from it. Games will be made and blockbuster entertainment will be created, but I suspect that, like all other disruptive technologies, there may be some benefits that are not entirely based on profit and loss. Maybe some real good, in its truest form, can be achieved along the way.