A legally blind man has been able to see again through the power of virtual reality. Jamie Soar suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary condition that has left him extremely near-sighted with double vision. But the design of the HTC Vive, which places two small screens close to the user’s eyes, was enough to mean that for a few minutes in a London computer store, Soar was able to see for the first time. He’s now got a message for the world.
“Try VR,” Soar told UploadVR in an interview. “Find a means to try it because I went so long without ever knowing that this extra dimension existed that you can see. Try out as many experiences as possible. It might not be for everyone but it might give people a lot more freedom or independence in what they do.”
Soar was initially skeptical, as he had tried other 3D setups like the Nintendo 3DS to no avail. But when he heard a demo of the Vive would be taking place at a PC World computer store in London, he made the journey to try it out. Within moments of donning the headgear, his eyes had adjusted and Soar was treated to a spectacle he’s never seen before: balloons floating away into the sky.
Virtual reality is often dismissed as a simple gimmick. Headsets like the Playstation VR may improve immersion in recreational games, but the technology has a wide scope to measurably improve the lives of many people. Astronauts training for Lockheed Martin’s mission to Mars are using the technology to prepare for a future manned flight to the red planet, while AppliedVR is using headsets to try and treat post-surgical pain.
For Soar, virtual reality finally gives him the chance to use a computer with ease. As headsets reach the mainstream, both developers and users may discover further advantages that this technology brings.
Photos via Getty Images / Andreas Rentz, Getty Images / Yuya Shino