What is Virtual Reality? And Why People are curious about it

virtual-reality-featured-girl-space

Introduction to Virtual Reality:

In simple words, the term Virtual Reality(VR) is a simulation of an artificial Three Dimensional environments generated by a computer in which, a person can interact with the components of that environment with the help of specialized electronic devices. In Virtual Reality, a user is immersed into the virtual world with the help of a head-mounted device i.e. headset which usually used along with a high-quality pair of headphones. Some optional gears include hand controllers to treadmills that convert real-world movements to the movements in the artificial world. Now, let’s look at the history of Virtual Reality.

A Brief History of Virtual Reality:

It may appear to some of you that Virtual Reality is a new concept. But in fact, it’s not a new term it is from decades. The first Virtual Reality device was the Sensorama. It was created by the American cinematographer and inventor Morton Heilig in the year 1962. He also created five short films to be displayed in Sensorama. The term Virtual Reality was coined by Jaron Lanier in the year 1987. So now let’s know about the difference between Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality:

Most often people use the term Virtual Reality synonymous with Augmented Reality. But in fact, they both are not the same. In Virtual Reality or VR, the real world is completely replaced by the Virtual World or the Artificial world. That world may or may not be similar to the real world.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality or AR is an overlay of digital contents into real-world objects in real-time. Digital contents may be text, images or a video. A good example of AR is the Pokémon GO game which has been downloaded over 1 billion times. I hope this helped in clarification of the terms VR and AR.

Pokemon-go-augmented-reality
Pokémon GO

Now the next term, which I have mentioned in the heading is MR which is Mixed Reality. Mixed Reality is nothing but the combination of the real-world and virtual world to produce an entirely new world where real-world objects and digital objects exist simultaneously and interact in real-time. It’s now time to look at the Types of Virtual Reality Headsets.

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Types of Virtual Reality Headsets:

man-wearing-a-virtual-reality-headset

The types of VR Headsets are broadly classified into 3 types and they are mobile, PC and Standalone. So now, let’s talk about Mobile VR headsets.

Mobile VR Headsets :

Image Credit: ndtv.com

This type of headsets are relatively inexpensive and are generally below $100.The main reason behind this is because all the processing is done on the smartphone. In the headset, the smartphone is placed. The headset consists of lenses that divide the screen into two images for your eyes which makes the smartphone a VR device. However, this type of VR headsets cannot provide the best immersive experiences in comparison to PC or game console-based VR.

Examples of Mobile VR headsets are

  • Daydream View
  • Gear VR
  • Merge VR

PC Based VR Headsets :

This type of headsets provides a more immersive experience at a higher cost. It has a dedicated display, built-in motion sensors and an external camera tracker. This significantly improves the image and sound quality. It also provides head tracking. Oculus Rift and Vive Cosmos require a powerful PC to work on the other hand PS VR requires Playstation 4 at least.

Examples of this type of VR headsets are

  • Oculus Rift
  • Vive Cosmos
  • PlayStation VR
  • HP Reverb G2

Standalone VR Headsets:

Standalone headsets enable us to enjoy high-quality VR anywhere without needing a smartphone or PC. It has built-in processors, storage, display etc. which makes this kind of VR independent. In comparison to PC based VR headset this type of Headsets are less powerful. As they offer lower quality graphics and low refresh rates.

Despite this, the most popular tech companies such as Google, Facebook and HTC appear to be focusing more on this type of category. Examples of standalone VR headsets are  

  • Lenovo Mirage Solo.
  • HTC VIVE Focus.
  • Pico Neo.
  • Oculus Go.

Application of Virtual Reality :

1. Automobile Industry :

With the Help of VR, Engineers and designers are able to experiment easily by the look and build of the vehicle. Top vehicle brands like BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover are already implemented virtual reality technology in their business.

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2. Gaming :

There are so many VR games that can be played ranging from survivals to first-person shooter games. Names of few VR Games are Star Wars: Squadrons (for Multiplatform), Astro Bot: Rescue Mission (PlayStation VR exclusive), Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (which is again a PlayStation VR exclusive), Batman: Arkham VR (for Multiplatform) and so on.

3. Movies :

Apart from gaming, VR is also used in movies. Movie lovers can level up their cinematic experience with the apps like Oculus Cinema. Movies that use VR technology are Notes on Blindness, Lincoln in the Bardo, Bear71 etc.

4. Healthcare :

VR is playing a key role in the Healthcare field. Because various healthcare professional nowadays trains themselves for working on real bodies with the help of virtual models in the VR environment. VR can also be used in the treatment of a mental illness which again makes Virtual reality important in the healthcare field.

5. Education :

VR in education is making learning more interactive and fun. Students can visit places like the Taj Mahal without being actually going to, just sitting on their bench. This makes the lessons more memorable and exciting. Students can also study human’s internal organs and their functioning totally in an immersive way. They can also explore space with various virtual models and getting in-depth details of planets, galaxies and other parts of space. VR in education can do much more stuff we can think of.

In conclusion, we can say that Virtual Reality is shaping the way we are living our life, more importantly, it will be adopted by the mass in the future. And even technologies such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality(VR) in combination will make the future of human beings golden. However, it always depends upon the person how he/she uses such powerful technologies whether for constructive or destructive purpose. Let me know in the comments section what you think on this topic. Thanks for reading the post, see you in the next post.

Featured Image credit :Edited from Technology vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

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