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By Michael Myers

Virtual Reality: The Past, Present, and Future

Growing up in the '90s, I distinctly remember going to casino boats in New Orleans with my two cousins, Brett and Jeromy, escorted by our grandma. The reason I remember this so well was not because we had the privilege of watching my grandma gamble – I know that's what most of you were thinking.

It was because of the massive arcade room that lay within. My favorite attraction was a large orb with a bucket seat at the center surrounded by a large screen that displayed a roller coaster simulator. When it started, man was it a ride. Every jolt, bump or rotation made you felt like you were actually there. From my very first ride, I was hooked.

Virtual reality has come a long way since then, and it is only going to keep advancing, both in applications and adoption. Even today, virtual reality is everywhere, and new products are being released at an astounding rate. It is no longer the sole domain of entertainment, either. Just take a look around. It's used in the military, flight simulators and my personal favorite: video games.

In the military, virtual reality is used to simulate unique situations that a soldier may find themselves in where timing may be critical. The use of virtual reality minimizes the possibility of injury while allowing the soldier to make mistakes. By doing this, it saves the lives of soldiers as well as prevents unnecessary collateral damage.

Flying an aircraft is no easy task; something heavier than air just is not meant to soar with the birds. All jokes aside, an airplane is a complicated piece of machinery that takes a lot of training to master. Even then, anything can go wrong. A pilot needs to be prepared. A flight simulator is the closest thing to flying a real aircraft where death is not the cost of making a mistake.

Entertainment started the surge of virtual reality and has been the driving force since the '50s, with the invention of the "View-Master," the tiny binocular-like device that would cycle through images as you held it up to the light. Today, we have headsets that completely immerse the user into the gaming environment. We even have headsets that can be used to transform your phone into a virtual experience.

The future of virtual reality is open to many possibilities, both practical and for pure entertainment value. In either regard, nanotech virtual reality is the final frontier in terms of the virtual world. Be it fictional or a futuristic inevitability, it will open up endless possibilities. By being able to completely upload human consciousness into the virtual world, it could help save otherwise terminal patients from a certain death.

With the same nanotechnology, we could create the ultimate gaming experience. Imagine being able to send your consciousness into a virtual fantasy world like in the anime series "Sword Art Online." The unthinkable would become possible, exploring the depths of the ocean without ever having to come up for a breath would be just another Tuesday, flying like your favorite superhero would be a reality…and that is just the beginning. Who knows what the future may hold?

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