Virtual Reality (VR) is coined from the combination of two words – ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. Virtual as from definition means near, and Reality is what we experience in our daily life. You probably won’t do things like diving deep in the oceans, standing beside a volcano, or going on a voyage to Antarctica, but with Virtual Reality, you might be able to do it all without even leaving your cozy sofa. Virtual reality is created in the real world using high-performance computers and some sensory equipment, like headset and gloves. The idea of VR was originated in the minds of the great Thomas Edison, who pioneered it with the name “Kinetograph.”
Virtual reality (VR) finds its application in the educational field (e.g., military training, or pilots) and is extensively used in the gaming industry. VR systems use either the Virtual reality headsets for a portable VR experience or multi-projected environments for generating realistic images, sounds, and other sensations that ensure a user’s physical presence in a virtual environment. A person using VR can look around 360 degrees and can move around. This virtual effect is mainly created by the VR headsets that consist of a head-mounted display, with a small screen in the front of the eyes. Virtual Reality usually packages auditory as well as video feedback.
Experiencing Virtual Reality can be categorized into the following types:
- Fully Immersive – Three things help in fulfilling a complete VR experience, a computer model, a powerful computer that can adjust to the actions made by the user, and some surround-sound loudspeakers.
- Non–Immersive – An alternative way is using a widescreen and using headphones. It doesn’t fully immerse a user, though it is a kind of Virtual reality.
- Collaborative – The virtual experience is the same as in the fully immersive state, but it offers the idea of sharing the virtual world with other people.
- Web-based – This is a web-based virtual reality analogous to HTML namely VRML (Virtual reality markup language)
- Augmented Reality – Mobile devices nowadays are as capable as computers used to be. It spawned the idea of Augmented Reality (AR). There are close links between AR and VR.
With the introduction of power packed features in personal computers and smartphones, Virtual Reality devices saw a significant development and grew rapidly. On a large scale, Virtual Reality is used in the entertainment industry, particularly in the gaming industry for the enhanced gaming experience.
Which devices are used for VR on a Commercial Scale?
Giving people the ability to touch objects and feel things in the virtual world is one of the most significant achievements of the VR industry. One technical method of implementing this is using fiber-optic cables that records the data about how much a finger is stretched. Other technologies include strain gauges, electromechanical devices, or the piezoelectrical sensors to measure the finger movements.
It is the most critical component for a VR experience. The difference between a computer and a VR is the presence of a 3D screen on a VR screen which moves according to the user movements. The HMD looks like a giant motorbike helmet, which consists of two screens, a blackout blindfold that blocks outwards light and stereo headphones (not necessarily). They usually have built-in accelerometers that keep a check on the user’s movement and the direction.
Even more straightforward than a dataglove, a wand is like a stick that can be used to touch, to point to, or to otherwise interact with a virtual world. It has the position sensors or the motion sensors (such as accelerometers) built-in, along with some mouse-like buttons or scroll wheels. The advantage that the wands take over the conventional VR equipment is that they are wireless.
Concluding, Virtual Reality is instrumental in the gaming industry and the commercial use of Virtual Reality for the education industry for pilots and military training is a very creative use of VR. It is also extensively used for enhanced entertainment purposes for short VR shows for a deep insight into Virtual Reality.
A long time ago, the VR equipment was very costly for its personal use. However, the recent VR equipment by Google, namely Google Cards is a cheap and efficient solution for experiencing Virtual Reality in your own home. The future of VR industry seems very bright for extensive development.