Virtual reality is no longer a futuristic idea: it is a technology that is part of our world. But the possibilities it offers are very wide and go far beyond video games. The BBC spoke with several experts about the future of virtual reality and how it will change our lives (or is already doing so).

1. Tools without physical limitations

Mark Bolas is a professor at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California (USC), in the United States, and has worked with virtual reality since 1988.
According to Balls, virtual reality "is an extracorporeal experience and, at the same time, completely connected with our body." "It allows us to go beyond the limitations of physical tools, " Bolas told BBC technology specialist Rory Callan-Jones.

The academic says he developed a series of 14 different environments with virtual reality. "In one of them you feel that you are very tall and have to look down; it was the first time that people could feel vertigo in a virtual environment,” he explained.

Balls wanted to "create a tool with commercial use that could be used to solve real problems.” According to the professor, car companies use this system for the design of cars, and the oil and gas industry uses it to visualize statistics that help them find out what is the most suitable place to develop their activities.

The expert maintains that the fundamental thing at this moment is to "create a space that allows us to use our emotions and our desire to connect with people." "I see people walking like zombies with cell phones in their hands and I have to maneuver a mouse to fill in small sections on digital forms, which is frustrating. Virtual reality could transcend all this."

2. New ways of communicating experiences

"The biggest area in which virtual reality is changing the work environment is training and simulations,” Maria Korolov, a technology journalist specializing in virtual reality, told the BBC. Korolov says that simulators have long been used in the army for training. But it is also used in other fields.

"A recent example is a doctor who performed surgery on a baby's heart using a virtual reality helmet, so he could plan the surgery in advance and save the baby," Korolov said. In education, "the biggest change has been Google Expeditions, a program with which the IT giant sent more than 100,000 virtual reality helmets to elementary schools and allowed students to take virtual excursions, among other things.

Korolov speaks of "visceral" sensations and "physical reactions" through this virtual technology that, predicted, will have many uses in the adult entertainment industry, as it is "very convincing."

"I have tried it from a purely critical perspective and it seems that (the actors) are interacting with you,” he explained. "In the same way that the Internet has changed how we communicate information, virtual reality will change the way we communicate experiences."

3. A platform to study the human brain

"I observed that many of my patients like video games, and that they find it especially useful to those who find it difficult to maintain attention and concentrate on day-to-day activities," Skip Rizzo, director of medical virtual reality at the USC.

Rizzo uses virtual reality since the 1990s for the rehabilitation of people with brain damage. The specialist explained that they built virtual scenarios of Iraq and Afghanistan and talked with veterans who went through certain traumatic experiences, testing this technique on them "very gradually."

The result, he says, is the "decrease in symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder." According to Rizzo, virtual reality is also used to help people with autism when facing job interviews. “Although these people are not real, the brain reacts to them as if they were, “said the psychologist.

Social scientist Nick Yee, who studies behavior and interaction with virtual reality, agrees with Rizzo regarding the potential uses of this technology "as a new platform for studying human psychology."

"Virtual reality is especially powerful in its abilities to manipulate bodies and facial expressions ... and make messages more persuasive," said Yee. But Yee warns that he feels "very worried" about the possibility that we cannot avoid falling into manipulative strategies. "We know that many of these manipulations can be very subtle, to the point of going unnoticed. It is difficult to protect against them."

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