Developers have been on the cusp of bringing virtual reality to the public for years and it looks like we’re finally going to get to bring it home. With Facebook set to release the Oculus Rift, suddenly science fiction seems a little less fictional. But what can we expect of virtual reality in the near future?

Altering the Gaming Experience
The Oculus Rift might have more up its sleeve than we’re anticipating, but a lot of the focus seems to be on its gaming capabilities. The virtual reality simulator will allow gamers to immerse themselves in the gaming experience by making them feel like they’re actually there. A simple headset placed over the eyes and head will make you feel like you’re part of the gaming environment by causing you to lose sight of the world around you.

The headset will place you in the seat of the car racing 150 mph down a racetrack or on the battlefield in the next Call of Duty. It won’t be long before you will be portrayed as a character instead of the default Mario or Luigi.

Facebooking Face to Face
Facebook owns the Oculus Rift, so you know it’s going to incorporate social media. What if, instead of writing on a friend’s wall, you’re able to enter a special meeting area in a virtual landscape where you can interact face-to-face with your friends? You could potentially sit down and have full conversations with your best friend living in China from the comfort of your own home without the need for a cell phone.

Of course, this one-on-one interaction could give a whole new purpose to apps like Tinder. Those salacious flirty messages on Facebook could end very differently if people were able to, um, “interact” without the risk of discovery or disease. Suddenly the “poke” Facebook feature seems like it could be a lot creepier than it already is.

It Could Enhance Education
Virtual reality could also potentially make education more widespread. Imagine entire classes being taught through virtual reality. Students could sit at table in their dining room, strap on a headset, and learn quantum physics while waiting for the lasagna to finish cooking. It would help those forgoing traditional higher education find a way to fit a degree into their busy schedule.

You could take pre-programmed classes in your spare time or enter an interactive class being taught across the world. They say immersion is the best way to learn a language, and now you could get that immersion at home. Imagine being part of an Italian class with an Italian teacher and students, all while still on your couch in America.

VR Could Change the Way We Work
Police officers are already implementing virtual reality to help solve crimes. They’ve established ways to use HD cameras and lasers to recreate crime scenes in a virtual environment. This allows them to investigate a potentially dangerous scene without putting lives at risk or go back and look at a crime scene later down the road during an investigation.

Virtual reality could also change the business landscape by making meetings more accessible across the world. You could shake hands at an 8 a.m. meeting with investors in India and still make your lunch date in Central Park.

Doctors could use virtual reality to practice intense surgeries before operating on a patient or the military could use it to train soldiers for battle situations.

There seems to be no real limit to the options presented by virtual reality. Once developers move past the headset phase the possibilities seem endless. Luckily, a Kickstarter page is already on top of it. One day we could be living out the plot of the Matrix. Hey, you never know.

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