Now that it has firmly landed in the mainstream, the capabilities of virtual reality (VR) are proving to extend far beyond entertainment. As the technology develops, VR is proving to make powerful and meaningful change to the physical world around us.
This week, Google’s new VR goggles gave a young blind woman her vision back in front of a live audience. Six years ago, Maisy lost most of her vision due to a brain tumour, limited to a small blurry circle in her right eye. She joined BBC Click’s Spencer Kelly at the recent Hay Festival to put some new goggles to the test in front of an audience. The GiveVision goggles use magnifiers and augmented reality to amplify the wearer’s remaining vision and highlight outlines.
In a first for British TV, Your Home Made Perfect is a new BBC programme that uses VR technology to help transform home by focusing on the most joyful part: the big reveal. At an uncertain time for the property market, the producers wanted to create a programme that moved away from the frustrating aspects of home renovation, giving people the chance to see their homes completely transform, before lifting a single brick. Executive Producer Joff Wilson describes the big moment: “There was an outpouring of emotion – people were speechless, jaws were on the floor. I sensed tears. ‘Take your headset off for a moment; step out if it’s too much,’ I shouted. The couple in question did and sobbed with joy as they realised that this fabulous design would unite them and drastically improve their lives – it was virtual reality, but so real.”