The rise of virtual reality travel

When we travel, we are transported to a cornucopia of new worlds and new experiences. However, for some, the destination is only one part of the journey. With new technological advances developing for virtual reality programs, check out how some holidaymakers are having a digital adventure. 

Virtual reality is something that has mystified researchers and scientists for centuries, has penetrated author's minds in science fiction stories, and now, may soon be closer to technological fruition than we think. 

Although the concept takes many forms, our games, a vehicle for designers, etc. - it is also revolutionising the way we travel - from Virgin America flight simulators, to new methods of in-flight entertainment to help those suffering with Vertigo a chance to forget they are on a plane.

The idea is fascinating. So how is virtual reality enhancing our travel experiences?

Curing Vertigo 

One major concern for people traveling is those that are fearful of doing so in the first place. In an investigation for the BBC, Mike O'Sullivan experienced the techniques of Oculus, a virtual reality program which has facilitated 3D gaming in the past. Now, the program is set to puncture our reality more than ever before, and be introduced to passengers on flights to alleviate the feeling of turbulence. Virtual reality is planned to be more instated into the public by 2050. 

"Can flying over a tropical island on a magic carpet take my mind off the stress of being buffeted?" he asked. As the below video shows, the technology could indeed turn into something more. 

Simulation 

Flight simulation is nothing new, but the experiences it can give a pilot have meant that the virtual reality process actually helps technologically advance real life too. 

A recent example is from Virgin America, who built a complete replica program of their plane's cockpit from the Airbus A320 design. 

Captain Christopher Owens, who captained one of the virtual missions said the simulator process was essential for newly realised pilots to grasp an accurate feeling of weight, lift, and drag of flying a plane.

"The simulator is the ultimate classroom in which students develop the competence and confidence to handle many dangerous situations they could possibly face in the actual aircraft."

Space travel

Alright, not actually flying into space of course, but the University of Surrey displayed new technology that meant they could at least visualise the experience. Once again, provided through the innovations of Oculus Rift, the head mounted virtual reality set was given to students to experience an out-of-this-world program called "Virtual Ride to Space". Funded through Kickstarter, the £30,000 project uses balloons and panoramic footage of space to give the viewer the ultimate feeling of an astronaut, including being able to add your own music to enhance the experience.

Available in April 2015, lead researcher Aaron Knoll enthused about the project further. 

"The software will allow you to slow down, speed up, or even reverse time. All with an immersive panoramic view of the earth as you ascend slowly to space."

If you could virtually travel anywhere, where would you go?

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