How virtual reality is going to change the world as we know it

All over the world, techies are counting down the days to the 2016 launch of the Oculus Rift, a portable, user-friendly virtual reality (VR) headset that is expected to bring VR technology into the mainstream.

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The Rift is one of many VR headsets that are about to hit the market, but it’s expected to dominate VR technology thanks to the fact that the manufacturer Oculus is owned by Facebook, which purchased the company for US$2 billion in 2014. With Facebook having more than a billion users, the Rift already has a much firmer foot in the door than the manufacturers of rival headsets in terms of marketing and distributing the device.

VR devices such as the Rift will enable gamers to fully immerse themselves in the games they play, and movie-goers will be able to immerse themselves in state-of-the-art cinemas or even in the scenes they are watching. But the benefits of this technology aren’t just limited to entertainment. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg believes it’s going to change the way people interact with one another on social media, and many other industries and sectors are already looking into ways they can use VR to enhance the way they do business.

Architects are excited about the prospect of virtual tours of the buildings they design, educators are planning virtual classrooms, psychologists are thinking of ways of using VR to treat patients for phobias and anxiety – the possibilities seem endless.

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But what about VR’s impact on farming?
Well, from a layman’s point of view, just think of the virtual tours we will be able to take of interesting farms or technologies? We won’t need to travel the world to see how farmers in other countries are doing things – quick, virtual tours will give us the gist of things. Take aquaculture as an example, where a VR simulator was developed for the Rift (view the one dimensional version here). Another interesting VR concept is Harvest of Change, where viewers can immerse themselves in the life of families living on farms in rural America.

There are many more potential VR capabilities that could impact on the way we farm. According to a Chinese study, farmers will be able to use ‘virtual plant technology’ to simulate crops and research crop physiology. The demonstration of machinery will also be much easier, providing farmers with a very clear impression of product performance – not to mention the use of VR to train farmers to use newly acquired products.

With the introduction of virtual reality devices like the Rift, the world is about to become a much, much smaller place. It’s only a matter of time before we will see how it really is going to impact on our – and many other – worlds. Let’s get ready to strap on our headsets!