To date we have tended to associate Virtual Reality (VR) primarily with leisure activities such as gaming and entertainment, media and films, in simulation scenarios for training and military uses and in scientific areas.

We may not realize it, but in fact VR has permeated almost every area of our daily lives. Take a look at this list of where VR is applied in everyday situations: Education, Healthcare, Fashion, Heritage, Business, Engineering, Sport, Telecommunications, Construction and Programming Languages. Tourism must also surely be on the list, as well as real estate, architecture and in some form of the other, most everyday activities we take for granted.

Today Thiken tweeted news of VR being used at the dentist – not by the dentist himself – by a nervous patient. Dreading his dental appointment, Edward Miller, co founder of Medical Realities, having read many clinical studies which demonstrate VR can be useful in relieving pain and anxiety, decided to take his virtual reality headset with him.

According to Medical Realities, Miller’s experience and certainly that of many others proves that “virtual reality holds a lot of opportunity for anybody that suffers from not just dental phobia or anxiety, but any situation where it would be beneficial to distract somebody from their surroundings to manage fear. For example, virtual reality could be a viable way for people with Aviophobia (fear of flying) to wear during a plane’s takeoff or landing, or for people with Trypanophobia (fear of injections) to wear whilst receiving their medical shots.”

In Miller’s case, at the dentist, his headset (operated off his mobile) was able to adapt to his horizontal position so he watched Avatar in 3D while lying in the chair.

This is exciting news for people with phobias. With the cost of VR headsets set to decrease in the years to come, the ability to ‘self manage’ pain, phobias, stress and anxiety will make this once futuristic technology commonplace and available to the masses.

Going forward VR designers and developers will need to take note of user requirements such as body position, total sound proofing from the external world, issues of motion sickness, dizziness and maybe even VR Addiction!

Ajita Kadirgamar