With VR being available to the average consumer, VR development will climb to higher heights. Fictitious VR headsets like “NerveGear” from the SAO franchise, may actually be possible at the rate of current VR development, just maybe in a hundred years or so.
For those confused, NerveGear is a theoretical VR device that’s capable of creating VR through the stimulating and perceiving of the user's nerves. When NerveGear is used, the user will be in a lucid dream-like state, one controlled by NerveGear, and through this lucid state shall VR be experienced. This all happens while the user's physical body ceases all motor control and acts as if it was sleeping.
And because of how NerveGear creates VR, theoretically virtual reality can feel exactly the same as reality. Due to the fact that the stimuli can be the same, hence why it’s the perfect VR experience. Though this potentially can blur the line between reality and virtual reality. What’s real and what’s not real; thus the public’s perception on virtual reality will change too.I conjecture the public will see virtual reality as just another “reality” and not care that it’s all fake.
Now building off the fact that the stimuli can be the same, if you recall from part 2, VR sickness is theorized to be caused by a sensory conflict. However if the stimulus is the same as reality, naturally VR sickness will go away since there is no sensory conflict because from the brain’s perspective it feels no different from reality.
Furthermore, devices such as NerveGear are called brain-computer interfaces (BCI). BCIs connect the brain with a computer and allow a direct communication pathway with each other. Also BCIs are not completely sci-fi, MRI, EEG, MEG, and EOG are BCIs for example, though non-invasive. The BCIs discussed in this series will be invasive, essentially brain implants and perceiving or stimulating the brain.
Additionally, many universities and companies such as Neuralink, co-founded by Elon Musk, are already developing these technologies. NerveGear may not even be theoretically medically or physically possible or may have many side-effects of use.
Though there is development ever closer to NerveGear, Neuralink as mentioned earlier, in 2021 made a monkey successfully play video games using his brain only. Also another monkey in 2008 controlled a robotic arm using its brain at the University of Pittsburgh. Both of these experiments and devices perceive a brain’s intentions to move into movements.
Moveover another part for NerveGear is stimulating the brain, and the field of neuroprosthetics is leading development for stimulation. Cochlear implants stimulate the cochlear nerves to help individuals with profound hearing loss to hear better, unlike hearing-aids which just amplify sound.
Dangers of NerveGear and Other Devices
Now imagine if all this development continued and how these technologies could be implemented in VR with humans. However this dream of NerveGear coming to reality might be more dangerous than expected; monkeys already have died from Neuralink’s experiments. Hence so can humans. People can die because of bad firmware, defects in implants, and failed surgery.
Who knows, maybe in the future there’ll be computer viruses that can literally kill someone. If implants have computers which are hackable and have access to the internet, will hackers be able to send viruses to make the implant malfunction and kill someone?
Furthermore, granted if “NerveGear” is not possible, development on devices improving the stimulus and input from Virtual Reality is increasing. VR treadmills for example, recently came into the consumer market at a reasonable price (KAT-VR). Other devices like haptic suits, suits that allow touch feedback, exist and are in-development. They’re just in laboratories and prototype environments only, definitely not in the consumer market.