Virtual reality is considered by many a technology set to change the world. Whether this change will be for the better or worse, only time will tell – some praise the technology as revolutionary, others point out its dangers as it may deepen the alienation we already witness thanks to the connected world around us.
There is one perspective usually not considered when it comes to virtual reality: can it help us in fields like ecology and energy efficiency? Well, even if at first sight there’s no apparent connection between the two, if we look close enough, we can see that VR can indeed incline the balance of nature to the right direction.
Las Vegas is one of the most power-hungry cities of the world. According to a recent estimate, Vegas consumes around 8,000 megawatts of electricity on a summer day, and this number is expected to continue growing in the coming years. To put things in perspective, an average American household consumes around 11 megawatts in a year. Surprising as it may sound, virtual reality could save the bulk of this power.
Online gaming venues like All Slots Casino will roll out a virtual reality casino in the coming years. The virtual All Slots will have all the games an average Vegas casino offers its players. Once it transcends into the cyberspace, the All Slots will be able to beat its Vegas counterparts not only in game variety but diversity, décor, and many other aspects. While the All Slots will not be able to offer the same entertainment options as Vegas, there are other VR applications in the works to cover that.
To spend time in virtual reality, people need a personal computer and a headset – most families already own the first – which counts into the above-mentioned 11 megawatts a year.
Scientists believe virtual reality can also help save the environment. Not directly, of course – nothing you do in cyberspace has any effect on the real world. It could, in turn, promote a better understanding of nature and, as professor Jeremy Bailenson from Stanford University put it, “can give everyone, regardless of where they live, the kind of experience needed to generate the urgency required to prevent environmental calamity”.
“One of the greatest challenges to staving off irrevocable climate change isn’t simply getting buy-in from skeptical politicians – it’s getting people to visualize how driving a gas-guzzling car or living in an energy inefficient home is contributing to a problem that may only manifest itself completely in future decades,” the professor noted, cited by The Guardian in 2016.
The professor’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) has released a short documentary and an interactive game to explain ocean acidification, the process through which the atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, harming the conditions for sea life, and perhaps offer them an incentive to do more to save the environment.