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Virtual reality

Virtual reality is an entirely immersive digital environment which can represent the real world or an alternative world

Did you know that Virtual Reality has been around for half a century? Fifty years ago, Ivan Sutherland, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created the first, albeit primitive, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display system named The Sword of Damocles.

Virtual reality is a point in the Reality-Virtuality Continuum. On one end of the continuum, you have a real environment, and on the other, you have a virtual environment. The closer the experience moves to each end of the continuum, the more immersed the user will be in that extreme.

Today’s headsets are a far cry from the bulky, heavy Sword of Damocles. Thanks to the popularity of gaming, headsets are getting more comfortable and lighter with every new release, and the visual quality is improving as well.

Virtual reality isn’t just for gamers. VR has industrial uses too. A virtual reality headset puts you in the three-dimensional, computer-generated world, where you can move throughout the environment, manipulate objects, and even perform a series of actions.

Virtual reality could be used in design and construction by giving operators and maintenance crews a realistic walkthrough experience. They would be able to uncover problems in the design before construction begins, eliminating the need for modifications during the build phase.

We are using a virtual reality application with our 13,000 drivers to raise awareness of the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Our simulator offers a 360º immersive experience, with sensations and movements that make the driver feel as though they were actually driving. Even though accident rates within the company are low, fatigue at the wheel is a factor that all drivers will face at some point. We consider this training vital to raise awareness amongst staff and help prevent accidents.

We are also using VR to train staff to perform tasks that have a higher level of risk without exposing them to that risk until they have had plenty of instructions in a virtual but realistic environment.

We are even using VR as entertainment in our services sector. Users can hop on a static bicycle and virtually experience the thrill of competing with other riders on routes around the world.  The goal of this virtual reality system, known as Superplay, is to provide a more intense, motivating, and entertaining experience without leaving the sports center, as well as bringing fitness to video game lovers. Essentially it is a tool to improve what’s on offer to users of sports stadiums and arenas.

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