Reaching Religion

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Virtual reality is hitting practically everything in existence right now. From entertainment to exploration and beyond, it seems like there’s nothing virtual reality won’t have a hand in. But will it have a place in religion? Before any cries of blasphemy are made, it would be prudent to consider how virtual reality could affect religion, and maybe even make it more immersive and tangible for some people.

Virtual reality could be used in many ways to alter how religion works in society, and one of the most prominent ways it may do this is through travel. Almost all religions have sacred places. Jerusalem, Mecca, and the like are just a few examples of holy locations that are sacred to certain religions. Many followers of those religions would like to visit those places, and in some cases they are technically required to.

But unless Mecca is just a hop and a skip away, it’s not easy to get there. Not only is it time consuming, in some places in the world dangerous, but expensive as well. With virtual reality, pilgrims may be able to visit their holy location without ever actually leaving their own country. Whether or not this would be accepted as equivalent to a real physical journey is particular to each religion, but the point still stands: virtual reality could allow pilgrims to essentially visit places of religious importance.

But it could also be used to teach. The majority of religions have a holy book or something similar that details the past of that religion, as well as their doctrines and beliefs. While reading them from a page is certainly one way to learn, what if you could actually be there? How would it feel to sit at the feet of Jesus or Mohammed or any significant religions figure as they taught their message? Without a doubt, it would be a very different kind of experience, and may even help followers feel more attuned to their religion as they get to physically see figures of importance.

84 million Americans attend church weekly but that number is declining for a number of reasons, says Pew Research in their 2015 report on America's Changing Religious Landscape. Virtual reality offers a way for people to connect spiritually, from home.

These are just a few of the ways in which virtual reality could influence religion. Without a doubt, some religions will not accept the idea of incorporating technology into their means. Others may accept it with open arms. Either way, the potential is extremely vast, and in the end virtual reality will likely become a major part of various religions, limited only by the ingenuity of the programmers that work on it. Only time can tell how much of an influence virtual reality could have on our churches, synagogues, and mosques, but it’s an exciting anticipation that will no doubt bring some great wonders and marvels along with it.

A Better You with a Virtual Reality Workout

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Anyone that’s in the know about the newest advancements in technology knows about virtual reality. It’s an extremely exciting piece of work, mostly because the versatility of it seems to be almost endless. There seems to be no limit to what can be done with virtual reality and a bit of innovation. But if there’s one place people would think virtual reality has no place, it’s in the gym. After all, how often do we see the physical and the technological mix like that? But virtual reality not only has a soon to be place in workouts, it may even make them better, through coaching, simulation, and motivation.

This is a statement that probably makes a lot of people skeptical, and it should, but there is some very real truth to it. If you’ve lived for more than a few years, it’s practically guaranteed that you’ve heard the saying ‘mind over matter.’ This saying is used all the time in exercise and workouts, though for some reason it’s usually the people that aren’t working out that say it to you.

Ironic as that is, the motto is still very true. Humans can push themselves beyond their limits with willpower, but willpower is affected by many things. Sometimes it’s outside motivation. Sometimes just hearing someone say they believe in you is enough to get through those last twenty pushups. Sometimes it’s the finish line. Being able to see the end can make it easier to reach it.

Needless to say, these are things that don’t really exist in the gym. Unless you have a really supportive partner, you probably don’t have anyone around saying you can do it near the end of your exercise. And on the treadmill, the only signs of progress and a finish line are the digital numbers on the dashboard, which are hardly motivating.

So let’s add virtual reality to the equation, and explore what that could change. To start, you could have a virtual reality coach in your workout, allowing you to follow a regimen in the gym while still receiving support and motivation from them. And for the treadmill: well, would it be nicer to run through a forest or a beach, or do you like staring at the same white wall for thirty minutes? If you could run through an environment that’s actually nice and maybe even relaxing, you are several times more likely to go through with the whole run, and maybe even beyond what you had planned.

In short, can virtual reality make you physically stronger, more fit, faster or grant you more stamina? Maybe! It can certainly amplify that aforementioned willpower. How it does this can be different for everyone because we all draw motivation from different sources, but either way, the fact remains that virtual reality can make workouts more tolerable at the very least, and even enjoyable at best. Doesn’t lifting weights in Tibet or flying through space sound much nicer than the gym? These environments are not far from reach, they are well within grasp of the average consumer in the next 5 years, you'll see virtual reality in gyms within the next 1-2 years and fitness apps available for VR headsets as soon as this year. You'll see full-body haptic feedback suits and apps that measure your heart rate too.

Drop and give me 20 - million! Because there are 20 million ways VR is going to change fitness.

How Virtual Reality Helps Women Cope with the Pain of Labor

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Childbirth hurts. It’s a simple fact of life that we can never change or escape, many expectant mothers have a lot of anxiety about exactly how painful it will be. And while the payoff is most certainly worth the suffering, it certainly would be nice if, maybe, women didn’t have to experience so much pain during labor. Of course, there are medications to address some of the discomfort, but for many reasons many women are reluctant to rely on such things. Thankfully, there is an alternative option coming onto the scene that many skeptics will likely scoff at, and that’s virtual reality.

Contrary to popular opinion, virtual reality is not just the next level of gaming. It has a vast variety of other applications, including medical. You may be wondering how strapping on a pair of goggles could possibly make childbirth less painful, but there’s a great deal of merit to mind over matter when it comes to any kind of pain, including that of childbirth.

You’ve likely experienced two types of injuries in your life. The ones you immediately notice and feel, and the ones you seemingly accrue from nowhere, and you never even noticed the bruise or the cut until someone pointed it out to you. But the injury itself didn’t change. A cut is a cut, and a bruise is a bruise. But an injury you pay more attention to is more painful than one that you don’t really notice or successfully ignore. The same is true for all types of pain. If you can focus on something else besides the pain, it actually hurts a lot less. It’s an aspect of psychology that has been long proven. Our pain is connected to our attention.

Of course, it’s hard to focus on anything but the pain when you’re in a hospital room and surrounded by doctors and nurses. The key to focusing on something else is being in a different environment, and that’s where virtual reality comes in. One of the most amazing aspects of virtual reality is that it can take you pretty much anywhere that can be imagined. Sandy beaches, rolling hills, a clear lake, another planet, you name it. Whatever your most relaxing terrain is, virtual reality will take you there.

In fact, this method has already been used a few times already. During an experimental phase to test the effectiveness of this concept, expecting mothers that refused epidural were asked to try a virtual reality headset instead. Transported to a relaxing evening on a beach with a campfire and a calming waterfall in the background, a soothing voice helped instruct you to breathe as you watched birds in the sky or the waves roll across the sand.

It certainly sounds a lot nicer than a sterile white hospital room, that’s for sure. But it’s not just hypothesis; the results speak for themselves. On average, the women that made use of the virtual reality headset during childbirth experienced an 82% reduction in pain, and they were able to relax for the entirety of the process much more easily.

The science speaks for itself. Being distracted from pain makes it far more tolerable and less acute. And since you can’t really go find a nice white beach to give birth on, the next best thing is virtual reality, which will let you experience it all the same. Less stress for mom means less stress for baby and everyone can experience this beautiful time a little easier. 

Could Virtual Reality Make You More Empathetic?

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We all know virtual reality is one of the most exciting and innovative technologies to come out recently, but what most of us are still wondering is what we can do with it. There really is no one answer to this, because one answer could never encompass the full capabilities and potential of virtual reality in society. From medicine to exercise to entertainment, virtual reality seems to be truly limitless, but the more intricate aspects of its potential includes what it can do for human thought and emotion. A very recent question is this; can virtual reality make you more empathetic?

It’s not like empathetic manipulation is anything new. Just think of one of those commercials about abused pets and you know how it works. Even young children quickly learn how to manipulate the empathy of others to get what they want. Empathy is a key component of compassion for others, but these days such qualities are very difficult to come by. We’re all guilty of it at some point; we feel bad about something or someone’s situation, but we do nothing to actually change it.

That’s why evoking empathy in people is so important. Without empathy there is no charity, and without charity there are many worthy causes that would soon be bankrupt. So the question of how to increase empathy in others is always a question, but now the question extends to whether or not virtual reality can be used for such a purpose.
Television commercials often seek to show charity in need in an attempt to make you feel more empathetic to the cause. The problem is, you are still in the comfort of your own home, sitting on your couch and relaxing. You can see the situation, but you don’t really feel it. Virtual reality aims to change that.

Imagine that, rather than simply watching a commercial about an animal shelter or refugees coming off of a boat or children in a hospital, you were actually there. Imagine that you could sit in the same tent as a refugee family, seeing and hearing their life. Imagine being in the same hospital room as a child afflicted with cancer. This fuller immersion that virtual reality would provide will make the message more potent. It’s easy to ignore something when you can detach yourself from it. But if you are thrust right into the thick of it, it’s almost impossible to ignore. We feel more feelings of sadness, hope, and empathy when we are “really there” so to speak, as virtual reality makes us feel.

It’s been shown that people donate and donate more, through the vehicle of virtual reality. The true purpose of the application of this technology for empathy is to make people want to really make a difference in the world after they take the headset off. This is very promising for the future of cause initiatives!

Reaching Religion

March 23, 2017

Virtual reality is hitting practically everything in existence right now. From entertainment to exploration and beyond, it seems like there’s ...

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March 22, 2017

Anyone that’s in the know about the newest advancements in technology knows about virtual reality. It’s an extremely exciting piece of w...

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How Virtual Reality Helps Women Cope wit…

March 21, 2017

Childbirth hurts. It’s a simple fact of life that we can never change or escape, many expectant mothers have a lot of anxiety about exactly ho...

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Could Virtual Reality Make You More Empa…

March 20, 2017

We all know virtual reality is one of the most exciting and innovative technologies to come out recently, but what most of us are still wondering is...

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