We’ve gone from the Model T to the Tesla and from the switchboard to the smartphone. And now we’re seeing how the innovative power of virtual reality can help improve the life of many.
In July this year I was invited to race a rally car around one of the world’s most famous race tracks as well as take a trip to the bottom of the ocean. No, I wasn’t jetting off to exotic locations halfway across the world, I was simply experiencing virtual reality for the first time. Recently opened at the The Tin Shed at The Mart in East Linton, Viarama is Scotland’s first virtual reality company where you can try a range of virtual reality (VR) experiences including; getting into a real rally car, entering a Star Wars battle or venturing deep below the ocean.
Virtual reality is best described through the moments – or rather the memories – of the things you experience when you have the headset on. Unlike most forms of media, virtual reality blocks out the rest of the world in a way that doesn’t just encourage us to suspend our disbelief, but actually takes our senses for a ride and immerses us wholly in the experience. And, whilst the experience of driving a rally car (badly in my case!) and seeing the breathtakingly beautiful ocean floor was incredible, it was finding out how these advances in technology can actually enhance our quality of life which really turned my head.
VR is now being touted as a huge step forward for both education and the ageing population. It can help improve the way we age, so we don’t become isolated or depressed as well as keeping the mind happy and healthy. It’s also being praised for it’s benefits to those dealing with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, physical disability or vision problems. And it is in these areas that, Billy Agnew, founder of Viarama, is most interested. He explains “We work in many sectors including education and healthcare, and are committed to training and employing 18-24 year olds to deliver VR to our schools, nursing homes, and hospices.” Pictured above are recent visitors from Leuchie House and Lammermuir Nursing Home. “We are also working on a variety of exciting and innovative VR projects in partnership with government and industry, and all of our work has a strong focus on improving quality of life.”
Viarama is the first VR social enterprise (not for profit) in the world. Billy adds “I am really proud of the fact that we are a social enterprise and we have recently been nominated and short-listed in the ‘Tech for Good’ category at the social enterprise of the year awards, in both Scotland and the UK.” Viarama allows people of all ages and all levels of physical ability to enjoy the best virtual reality experiences available in the world today. Plus, they can arrange workplace sessions, team building events and corporate hire.
If you haven’t tried VR yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. Because one thing that will surprise you is how good VR is, how easy it is to lose yourself in the experience. And when you consider the inevitable improvements that are to come for this technology, as well the innovative power of VR as a force for good within our communities, it’s safe to say that – after decades of attempts – virtual reality is no longer something only found between the pages of a science fiction novel, it really is a whole new world.