Virtual reality technology continues to gain more notoriety and although its current state is heavily rooted in games and other forms of entertainment, like films, TV, streaming movies, and sports with the most recent being Super Bowl 51 that will stream through the FOX Sports VR app this Sunday, companies like Samsung have been partnering with numerous companies to improve the quality of life for consumers. Samsung has dabbled in their fair share of entertainment-focused VR too, but their most recent efforts have centered around using the Gear VR and virtual reality content to be used through it to help people, and with the advancements they're making it begs the question of whether or not other mainstream companies that are working with VR right now will do the same thing.
Most recently, Samsung was reported to be working with various hospitals and health organizations to help manage pain for patients. Utilizing the Gear VR and content created by their partner AppliedVR, Samsung has been able to run clinical trials to see how virtual reality could be used in place of drugs for pain management, with various cases seeing results. In one case, a little boy had a Gear VR placed on his head prior to a procedure beginning that was aimed at removing a tumor from his hand, with the VR content being able to entertain him as well as induce drowsiness, allowing the hospital to alleviate relying on a drug to do the same thing. There are other trials being run too, and this might be just the start of these types of uses for VR if Samsung and AppliedVR are able to receive clinical validation for the technology use.
Using VR to help manage pain is just the most recent unconventional use. Back in the middle of January Samsung was reported to be working with Austria's National Motor Vehicle Association to use VR for driving lessons. While this might not be quite the same as getting behind the wheel of a vehicle in reality and on the road with other drivers, the technology is immersive enough that it can certainly mimic driving on the road to a high degree without actually putting student drivers at risk. Without the risk of causing an accident or doing something that could harm them, their instructor, or another driver, it might also help those learning to drive relax to the point where it lowers the stress of passing, thus making it easier to actually pass due to a calmer state of mind.
This also wouldn't be the first educational use where Samsung has implemented Gear VR. Last year, they worked with a company in Germany to test how VR could be used in the classroom for learning purposes between pairs of two students, with one student wearing a Gear VR headset while the other used a Galaxy tablet that was paired to the headset, both of them working together to complete their educational tasks then eventually switching places and completing the tasks all over again in their new role.
It's these types of uses for virtual reality that truly mark the technology as exciting and amazing. While VR-based games are certainly fun, and watching Game of Thrones in VR thanks to HBO's VR app for Daydream is nothing to look down upon, entertainment is still entertainment. It's Samsung's outside the box thinking with projects and testing like these examples which add to the promise of VR expanding well beyond what is currently available with it. Whether or not other companies follow the same path is unclear, but it would certainly be beneficial for not just the VR market, but also consumers.