Virtual Reality Stands to Benefit from the Cannabis Industry — And Vice Versa
Virtual and augmented reality are taking the world by storm, popping up in nearly every industry across the globe. What started as a console for gamers is quickly becoming a tool for everything from improving workplace safety to assembling spacecraft at NASA.
It’s also making itself known in the cannabis industry. How are virtual and augmented reality affecting the cannabis industry, and how can we expect to see this technology applied in the future?
In 2017, Occupied VR — a Toronto-based virtual reality startup — launched Weed VR for Canadian cannabis customers. With this program, instead of spending hours in a dispensary learning about different cannabis strains, a customer can explore this unique and educational program from the comfort of their own home. Weed VR is a virtual catalog that teaches users about the different strains of cannabis available.
The goal of Weed VR is to create the world’s first cannabis strain library, using 3D scans of each strain that users can analyze — along with any information about the strain itself — in a virtual environment.
Eventually, this may even become a tool for users with disabilities as VR technology advances and starts to include things like eye tracking. This will enable those individuals to browse a virtual store and complete their purchases without worrying about whether a dispensary is accessible to those with disabilities.
Virtual Shopping Experiences
The Canadian cannabis market might have WeedVR, but they aren’t the only ones benefiting from both virtual and augmented reality in the industry. Augmented reality, which uses wearables or portable mobile devices to overlay a virtual environment in the real world, is helping the cannabis industry and others create virtual shopping experiences. We’ve seen augmented reality become popular recently with the release of games like Pokemon Go, but as with virtual reality, AR is not limited to the gaming industry.
Cannvas MedTech Inc and NexTech AR Solutions teamed up early in 2019 to create an educational AR cannabis program designed to teach anyone who’s interested in learning more about the substance. Eventually, this program will become part of learning kiosks that will give consumers the tools they need to learn about cannabis in a controlled virtual environment.
The goal of AR programs like this is to bring new customers into the industry, especially those who might be skeptical about using cannabis products or those who want to explore the possibilities but might not be ready to make a purchase.
VR In Medicine
The medical cannabis industry isn’t the only branch of medicine that is benefiting from virtual reality. It’s making a dramatic impact on the medical industry as a whole.
VR training programs, for example, provide opportunities for surgeons to practice delicate surgeries without needing a patient on the table. They can learn how to safely and effectively carry out these procedures without putting patients at risk while they practice. These training programs can also be designed to teach surgeons how to work with robotic tools like the Da Vinci surgical system, again without ever needing a patient to practice on. It can be a great tool for students or surgeons who need to learn how to operate one of these robots but work in a facility that doesn’t give them access to one.
The immersive learning possibilities go beyond just learning how to carry out delicate surgeries. The contents of these programs are only limited by the imagination of the programmers. If you need a way to teach someone how to improve their bedside manner, or how to communicate to family members that their loved one has passed away, VR gives you the tools to practice these skills and more.
Physicians can also use these virtual spaces to collaborate with one another in real-time, regardless of where they’re located. Imagine being able to consult with experts in your field around the globe without waiting for them to catch a plane to your facility.
The uses of virtual and augmented reality in the medical industry are limitless. We’re finally reaching a point where our capabilities can keep up with our imagination, and it will change the way we look at medicine.
The Future of the Cannabis Industry
The cannabis industry is growing exponentially, and both virtual and augmented reality will continue to play a huge role in the industry in support of this growth. Only time will tell how much of a role it plays, but if early applications are any indication, virtual reality may end up supporting the cannabis industry for decades to come. That could mean providing virtual shopping experiences or making it easier for individuals with disabilities to shop for the cannabis that they need. Programs like WeedVR are paving the way for massive changes in this industry.