Image by Ady Setiawan from Pixabay
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What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment with realistic-looking images and objects that gives the user the feeling of being completely immersed in their surroundings. This environment is viewed through the use of a Virtual Reality headset or helmet. We may use virtual reality to immerse ourselves in video games as if we were one of the characters, learn how to conduct heart surgery, and improve the quality of sports training to boost performance.

Even though it appears to be very futuristic, its beginnings are not as recent as we might imagine. Many people believe that Sensorama, a machine with a built-in seat that played 3D movies, emitted odours, and generated vibrations to make the experience as realistic as possible, was one of the first Virtual Reality gadgets. The idea was first proposed in the mid-1950s. Over the years, subsequent technological and software advancements resulted in a gradual change in both device and interface design.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Main Applications

In which industries are Virtual Reality now being used? Medicine, culture, education, and architecture are just a few of the fields that have already benefited from this innovation. VR allows us to traverse barriers that would otherwise be unthinkable, from guided museum trips to the dissection of a muscle.

To put it another way, virtual reality essentially consists of:

  • Believable: You must truly believe that you are in your virtual environment (on Mars, or wherever) and maintain that belief, otherwise the illusion of virtual reality will be lost.
  • Interactive: The VR world must move with you as you move around. You can view a 3D movie and be taken to the Moon or the ocean below, but it isn’t interactive in any way.
  • Computer-generated: Why is it important that something is computer-generated? Because only sophisticated computers with accurate 3D computer graphics can create credible, interactive alternate worlds that change in real-time as we move around them.
  • Explorable: A virtual reality world must be large and detailed enough to allow you to explore it. A painting, no matter how realistic it appears, depicts only one scenario from a single point of view. A book can depict a large and complicated “virtual world,” but you can only explore it linearly, just as the author describes it.
  • Immersive: VR must engage both your body and mind to be both believable and participatory. War painters’ paintings can provide glimpses of warfare, 

but they will never be able to truly depict the sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel of battle. You can lose yourself in a very realistic, interactive experience on your home PC for hours (the landscape will constantly change as your plane flies through it), but it’s not the same as sitting in a real flight simulator (where you sit in a hydraulically operated mockup of a real cockpit and feel actual forces as it tips and tilts), and even less like flying a plane.

Equipment needed for Virtual Reality

  • Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs)

There are two significant distinctions between VR and traditional computer viewing: with VR, you see a 3D image that changes fluidly and in real-time as you move your head. Wearing a head-mounted display, which resembles a huge motorcycle helmet or welding visor but is made up of two small displays (one in front of each eye), a blackout blindfold that shuts out all other light (removing distractions from the real world), and stereo headphones, makes this possible. 

The two screens show slightly different stereoscopic images, giving the virtual world a convincing 3D viewpoint. HMDs typically include built-in accelerometers or position sensors, which allow them to detect how your head and torso move (both position and orientation—which way they’re tilting or pointing) and adapt the image accordingly. The problem with HMDs is that they’re rather heavy, making them difficult to wear for long periods; some of them hefty ones are even installed on counterweighted stands. But HMDs don’t have to be that complicated: Google has created a low-cost set of cardboard goggles with built-in lenses that turn an average smartphone into a primitive HMD.

  • Immersive rooms

Sitting or standing within a room with changing graphics projected from outside is an alternative to wearing an HMD. As you go about the room, the visuals change. Images of landscapes, cities, and airport approaches are frequently projected onto big displays just outside a facsimile of a cockpit in flight simulators. CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment), a well-known VR experiment established at the University of Illinois by Thomas de Fanti in the 1990s, works similarly. People moved around inside a big cube-shaped chamber with semi-transparent walls onto which stereo pictures projected from outside were displayed.

  • Datagloves

When you see something great, it’s natural to reach out and touch it—even babies do it. As a result, allowing users to interact with virtual items has always been a key aspect of VR. Datagloves, which are conventional gloves with sensors linked to the outside to monitor hand and figure motions, are commonly used for this. Fibre-optic cables stretched the length of each finger are one technical means of accomplishing this. Each cable has microscopic slits in it, allowing more or less light to escape when you flex your fingers back and forth. A photocell at the cable’s end measures the amount of light that reaches it, and the computer utilises this information to figure out what your fingers are doing.

  • Wands

A wand is a stick that you can use to touch, point to, or otherwise interact with a virtual world. It’s even easier than a dataglove. It has built-in location and motion sensors (such as accelerometers), as well as mouse-like buttons and scroll wheels. Initially, wands were clumsily hooked into the main VR computer; however, they are becoming increasingly wireless.

The Future of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is one of the technologies with the most promising future growth prospects. According to IDC Research (2018), investment in virtual reality and augmented reality will increase 21-fold over the next four years, reaching 15.5 billion euros by 2022. Furthermore, these technologies will be critical to businesses’ digital transformation efforts, with spending in this area expected to surpass that of the consumer sector by 2019. By 2020, it is estimated that more than half of the larger European enterprises will have implemented a VR and RA strategy. In today’s market, people are looking for applications that go beyond leisure, tourism, or marketing and are more cost-effective. Virtual interfaces must also be enhanced to eliminate flaws like clipping, which causes solid objects to appear as if they may be passed through. Or to reduce the negative impacts that VR has on humans, such as motion sickness, which is dizziness caused by a mismatch between our body’s movement and what we see in the virtual world.

The top tech giants are already working on headsets that don’t require connections and can display visuals in high definition. They’re working on Virtual Reality headsets that have 8K resolution and have significantly more powerful processors. There is even speculation that Artificial Intelligence will be integrated over the next few years. The newer 5G standard may also open up new possibilities for the future of virtual reality. More gadgets and vast user populations will be able to connect thanks to this standard. Furthermore, due to its near-zero latency, consumers would be able to receive images in real-time, almost as if they were seeing them with their own eyes. As a result, Virtual Reality is no longer considered science fiction. It is a part of our present, and it will lead to advancements that will influence the future in the following years.


Written by HackerVibes

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