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Could Virtual Reality Make Real Waves in the Travel Industry?

August 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM | by | ()

As you return to reality and head off to work after the weekend, we've got a little food for thought to spark a few daydreams. This weekend, we read a very interesting story from the BBC about how a group of psychologists are using virtual reality "time travel" to help people who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

In a nutshell, patients enter a virtual world which allows them to interact with a situation they experienced in real life and come to terms with the decisions they made and now regret.

Obviously, the intent of the study has little to do with leisure travel, but the technology being used sure does. For example, the psychologists heading the study said that "participants could walk, talk and move similar to how they would in real life," and that "in virtual reality, the brain's low level perceptual system does not distinguish between the virtual and the real world; the brain takes what it sees and hears in a surrounding environment as given."

So, does that mean that a person could virtually travel and truly feel like they're experiencing something? Could virtual worlds be constructed that allow paying customers to "time travel" and experience something from the past? Say, the Coliseum in its heyday? Or, instead of going into the past, simply staying in the present. Want to head off to Hawaii? Dial up the right program, and you'll be walking the beaches of Maui in no time. The best part, according to what the psychologists are saying above, is that you'll truly be able to feel the sand on your toes, hear the waves, and taste the poke.

We know we're daydreaming, but are we? Is that sort of technology really that far off? Facebook doesn't think so, and imagine the impact it would have. Not only could you travel into the past and to places you couldn't afford to go in reality, but you could use a virtual reality experience as a "trial run." Not sure whether you want to go to Iceland or Germany next summer? Well, hop in the machine and try out both countries. Could you imagine?

As our world transitions into a virtual reality in every other sense, it suddenly doesn't seem so crazy that travel could also make the leap somewhere down the road. If you're feeling whimsical today, perhaps you can join us in our Monday daydream.

[Photo: Buyatt]

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