Today, we have the knowledge of the whole world in our pockets. We are blessed with the ability to access the world's information in a matter of seconds, we can communicate with our loved ones as and when we please, and we can become masters in anything we put our mind to. Indeed, without technology, the Coronavirus pandemic would be a very different experience for everyone. However, even with its many merits, technology has its downfalls and is frequently responsible for many of the problems of modern day life - and we'd be lying if we said we didn't know why.
We look down into the screens and peer into a well, more often than not forgetting to look up once in a while (ever heard of 'doomscrolling'?). With recent discoveries of physical damage like ‘tech neck’ , increased back pain and other mental health issues surfacing, we are quickly realising we are damaging our health. It’s easy to blame the young, the computer geeks, the ‘digital generation’, for spending too much time on their tablets and phones, but the truth is our lives revolve around technology. It connects us, increases productivity and is accessible to nearly everyone, and most importantly, to ignore it is to do yourself a disservice and set yourself at a disadvantage . So, if technology is unavoidable, perhaps we should be engineering a healthier way to use it.
Listening to music regularly has long been considered to increase people’s enjoyment in life, and in some circumstances, help ease minor ailments or distract from chronic pain conditions. Whilst music is to most entertainment, XR has the power to take our experience of music a step further into real healing. A new small study in California has identified the potential of using Virtual Reality as treatment for chronic pain and fibromyalgia. It found that there was sustained improvement in participants' quality of life and a real reduction in pain. So multi-sensory experiences, in the context of music, could be proving to have more efficacy in stimulating our minds and bodies than more traditional formats of listening.
Making Work Easier
Pop culture continuously likes to represent VR as a bleak future, or sometimes as an alternative to real life. So? In some circumstances, people need a temporary alternative to real life, and VR is a low impact way of doing just that. If you, however, think this is a step too far, there are many strong arguments that the real power of immersive technology comes in when real life and the unlimited possibilities of the digital world are merged together. Mixed Reality allows engagement in the real world, but with overlaid digital information. In terms of productivity, this means you can sit at your table at home and enjoy a sociable workplace with your colleagues, or even look at a car’s engine and see which parts you need to take off first to be able to fix it. Check the HoloLens 2 out by Microsoft to see how all this is becoming a reality.
Holidays and Events at a Moments Notice
Some of us nine-to-fivers like to have a drink at the weekend, blow off some steam, make some questionable decisions, and feel a bit rubbish for the start of the next week. What if there was a way of having more meaningful breaks in the day so we are able to clear our head? This is where the power of VR comes into play, it offers the chance to go somewhere else for a while. A lot of us live in the city, and can't get to the countryside as much as we would like to. If you want to see how successful this type of escape is in alleviating minor stresses in your day, try our Feed Your Head series to see for yourself the benefits of giving yourself a little break away. Alternatively, many people who enjoy going out and clubbing have children to look after, and VR serves a wonderful purpose in allowing them to have social nights out with friends in a virtual club setting watching their favourite DJs live (without the expensive drinks). It's not meant to replace the real experience; it's it's simply an alternative to doing nothing at all.
The future of XR doesn’t have to be terrifying, and given its prominence in our lives already, it’s time we start approaching it with a more positive attitude and celebrated its potential in wellness.