Virtual reality as a field of research has been associated with many promises for revolutionary applications, but is widely seen as delivering few. However many of the contributions from work in VR have been so basic they are difficult to point to. Many of the principles that form the foundation of VR have revolutionized the computer graphics industry. Every year more and more applications are introduced that are based on real-time interaction with three-dimensional worlds and objects. That concept is at the base of any VR system. One application area that benefited strongly from VR technology is tools for people with disabilities. Not all applications use gloves and head-mounted displays but the essence of many of these applications in VR is simply direct interaction and communication through computer augmented 3D environments.
There are many examples in this application area from talking lips for the hearing impaired, to therapy for persons with acrophobia. Other applications include rehabilitory exercise and novel interfaces for persons with central nervous system damage. For people with visual impairment, there are devices that allow a user to zoom an augmented picture of the world with the aid of an external camera. There are also systems that have tried to incorporate 3D environments in a tactile environment that allow a blind user to "feel" a desktop. Promoting "place-less" communication is an area of VR work encompising conferencing to 3d spaces. Some of this effort has gone toward reducing social isolation by creating inhabitated "worlds" that do not depend on physical location and allow both physically and practically distant users to share a space and communicate. "Virtual towns" have been designed to make daily business and consumer errands, as well as social counseling, available with a few mouse clicks. For care-givers there have also been 3D CAD based tools that allow supervisory environmental monitoring.