According to Wired, an online technology magazine, virtual reality is just around the corner. Young entrepreneur Mike Rothenberg urges the development of Virtual Spaces, with a strong belief that virtual worlds can benefit us on a much larger scale that they already has. Virtual Worlds like Second Life has already become a platform for organizations with missions close to Rothenburg’s vision.
For Example, Virtual Ability is a not for profit organization based in Second Life supporting members with physical disabilities.
Though VAI doesn’t give Real Life support or technology, they do a lot of work in the real life and can give referrals to real world resources to help those who need it and trains users how to use their aids correctly.
Survivors of Suicide is another Second Life based charity that aims to help and guide those who have been affected by Suicide.
Relay for Life is a 6 month-long annual charity event held on behalf of the American Cancer Society. This event raises money for Cancer Research raising nearly 3 million in donations since its it’s start in 2003. It is also the largest virtual world based event spanning through two Virtual Spaces, Second Life and InWorldz LLC.
InWorldz LLC has developed InShape, a project that makes travelling in its virtual world a more active experience than just pressing a key. InShape allows InWorldz users to walk, run or jog on their virtual streets using its mobile application and an exercise machine (either a bike or treadmill).
With everything listed above is Rothenburg’s vision really that far away? Second Life Residents Abby (eris.eternal), and AliKat Rage Manifesto (alikat.steampunk) kindly put forward these answers.
Do you think virtual worlds are becoming more and more part of the mainstream?
Abby (eris.eternal): “They already are. Though maybe not in the way SecondLife is, but if you look at something as the new Grand Theft Auto, that is a virtual world. People love those things, being able to be something they are not, enjoying everything from the comfort of their house. I’ve been here for 9 years, and I still see the same growth as 9 years ago. That means,that it has always been popular, it just gets more wider spread.”
Do you think the concept of virtual reality is becoming more appealing to big companies and organizations like Facebook?
Abby (eris.eternal): Yeah, it is hence those Oculus Rift. We’re going the way that we saw in the movies that came out in the 90s virtual 3d glasses, hand sensors, etc. Companies see this happening and want to get a piece of it. Now it’s not just the gaming industry, but all others have an interest too. Architects who want to use a virtual reality surrounding to show their building projects. Tactical companies that train in virtual reality.
AliKat Rage Manifesto (alikat.steampunk): Yes, Virtual Reality is becoming more appealing to Facebook B and Twitter and such, that’s why viewer updates have links to share things to those and Flickr without leaving SL. SL is also becoming a base for international meetings between companies..
Do you think products like the Oculus Rift and inWorldz inShape are making Virtual Reality more beneficial to helping humanity. i.e. the Oculus helping those who have a fear of heights, inShape used as a method of physiotherapy for who have use of their legs.
Abby (eris.eternal): Actually, virtual reality is already doing that. Sure those two will benefit some people with some sort of need, but places like this already provide real help to people with certain disabilities. I’m gonna use myself as an example here. I’ve got Asperger’s syndrome. I’m socially weak or I was, in the years that I’ve been here, I learned more than I did in my life. Things I can bring back to Real Life and use there. And the same will be for any other product that has to do with virtual reality. With the right platform, the right kind of program, it can help people.
AliKat Rage Manifesto (alikat.steampunk): The rift is going to be too expensive for most to afford for a long time, and it will be too experimental to be covered under any kinda of medical insurance even as psychological therapy
Abby (eris.eternal): Ali, Samsung is making a cheaper version
AliKat Rage Manifesto (alikat.steampunk): but yes, I agree with Abby, I have a phobia of being around people, speaking in public, any kind of situation that puts me in the spotlight in Real Life, but here I don’t have that issue, and it is slowly helping me get over it in Real Life
Young entrepreneur Mike Rothenberg urges the development of Virtual Spaces he believes that virtual reality benefit us on a grander scale, some of the reasons stated in my last question but he states that we are close but we aren’t there yet. Do you agree?
Abby (eris.eternal): Oh sure, we can do so much better, ever seen the movie surrogates? with Bruce WIllis? That’s the future. I truly believe that is the virtual reality we’re gonna go too. Virtual reality will crossover with RL more and more to the point that the twi are so intertwined that there is no real distinction anymore. I’m gonna go with the surrogates idea. Virtual space in real space. Things so intertwined that it is no longer clear what is what.
AliKat Rage Manifesto (alikat.steampunk): I believe that there will always be ways to improve VR We will never really get “there” as there will always be something on the horizon to reach for.
Virtual Spaces like Second Life, inWorldz and other Virtual Worlds have come a long way, but it seems these residents do agree that while we are close to achieving Rothenburg’s vision there is still a long way to go.
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She loves books and virtual reality, she also has a rather unhealthy love for the future pop band, Mind.In.a.Box.
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