At last – a useful application of VR… By using VR, you can have and use new limbs, as if they were grown from you.
If you’ve seen my VR video about the metaverse or read anything from me about VR, you’ll know that I’m not on the hype bandwagon for VR as a business or social tool yet. Gaming, yes, but not as a Zoom/Teams/physical replacement.
Actually, I think we are well into the Gartner “Trough of Disillusionment” with VR… well between the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and the “Plateau of Productivity” where mainstream adoption takes off.
So it’s with a tongue firmly within a cheek that I show that there is potentially a medical or at least research benefit to VR outside of gaming. Not one to make you buy a headset yet, but it’s something if your a researcher or you’re inspiring kids about the future possibilities.
This Scientific American article shows how neuro-plasticity can, with the help of convincing visual stimulus, make people feel and believe they have another pair of arms grown from their body.
I believe this is valid and plausible, having heard years ago of this study done where a person wore a vibrating magnetic compass belt for a month, and was able to use it to walk through mazes blindfolded. At the end of the month, after not taking it off at all, for anything, he had a strong feeling of loss… like a limb or sense was amputated.
So where can we take this VR plus neuro-reprogramming?
Let’s start with prosthetics. With VR training, we might speed up the acceptance and use of replacement limbs of amputations. That’s a cool VR use.
Blind people to get sight augmentation? Though spatial training that a VR headset can provide different senses can be added (VR does sound and vision, so even blind people could use it). One researcher devised a camera to tongue stimulant for a blind person to see.
How about augmentation? Commercial divers to get sonar perhaps? Military to get radar?
For any kids into medial and gadgets, and want to put their VR gaming to use building a career, this is a very real (future) option.
Remember that just because we are in the VR trough, doesn’t mean we will stay there. Kids (of all ages) can use this inspiration to design uses for VR that we can barely imagine.
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