If you’re wondering what virtual reality is and how it can be used, you’re in the right place. In this blog post, we’ll explain what virtual reality is, how it works, and some of the different ways it can be used.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated technology that allows users to enter, experience and spend time in the virtual world with ease.
It gives the user an immersive feel of a virtual world that can be similar to or completely different from the real world.
The use of virtual reality is widespread in entertainment (especially video games), education (such as medical or military training), and business (such as virtual meetings).
Aside from virtual reality, other types of VR technology include augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), or extended reality (XR), although the definition is varying for the industry.
The Standard Virtual Reality system generates realistic images, sounds, effects and other sensations in a virtual environment either using virtual reality headsets, multi-projected environments or multi-screen rooms.
Using virtual reality equipment, you can move around and interact with virtual features and items in the artificial world. These VR accessories can be like VR headset, VR controller, VR tracking system, VR treadmill etc.
VR headsets do the major job displaying the VR world in front of the user. A virtual reality experience typically incorporates audio, video, and haptic feedback.
“VR and AR are in the midst of an innovation boom at the moment. Headsets are getting smaller, faster and wireless.– Sam TrudgianSam Trudgian, VR developer at Napster
History of Virtual Reality
The history of virtual reality dates back to the 1800s. From the beginnings of practical photography, this marvelous idea has evolved.
In 1957, Morton Heilig invented the first VR device called Sensorama. It is considered one of the first VR systems thanks to its multimedia capabilities.
However, Jaron Lanier coined the term virtual reality in 1987 during his intensive research into this evolving technology. There are a lot of companies investing billions of dollars in VR at the moment.
Types of Virtual Reality
There are three types of Virtual Reality: Non-immersive, Semi-immersive, and Fully immersive or a mixture of them, are also called extended reality (XR). All the three types of VR experiences provide different levels of computer-generated simulation. The 3 main VR categories are the following:
- Non-Immersive Virtual Reality: Due to its common nature, this category is often overlooked as VR. Typically, this type of VR involves accessing a simulated 3D environment through a computer screen. Depending on the program, the environment may also generate sound. Users have some control over the virtual environment through a keyboard, mouse, or other device, but the environment cannot directly interact with them. One of the best examples of non-immersive VR is video games.
- Semi-Immersive Virtual Reality: Semi-Immersive VR offers a partial virtual experience that’s accessed through a computer screen or some type of glasses or VR headsets. Unlike fully immersive VR, this type of virtual reality focuses on 3D visuals rather than physical movement. This type of VR can be useful For educational and training purposes, with graphical computing and large projector systems.
- Fully Immersive Virtual Reality: This greatest level of VR allows users to be completely immersed in a realistic simulated 3D environment. There is a combination of sight, sound, smell and touch in some cases. Wearing special VR accessories such as Headsets/goggles, Gloves or trackers, you can fully interact with the environment. Users may also be able to experience the 3D space by moving through VR treadmills or stationary bicycles. Fully Immersive VR technology is still in its infancy, but it’s already making significant inroads into the gaming industry and, to some extent, the healthcare industry.
Virtual Reality Vs Augmented Reality Vs Mixed Reality
|Virtual Reality||Augmented Reality||Mixed Reality|
|Virtual reality uses VR headsets to create a simulator environment and helps an individual to immerse into it to experience an entirely different reality which is generated by computer.||Many argue that augmented reality differs from virtual reality, but some consider it a similar field.|
Augmented reality involves overlaying virtual simulations onto real-world environments with digital objects to enhance or augment them.
As an example, a furniture retailer may provide an app that lets users visualize what a new chair or table might look like in a particular room.
|Mixed reality is also sometimes considered a type of virtual reality, since it combines the physical and virtual worlds.|
The use of holographic lenses enables VR and AR to be combined where virtual objects interact with real-world objects.
However, it is usually considered a separate but related field to augmented reality.
Most people now refer to virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality as “extended reality,” which is a convenient way to differentiate between all three.
How Does Virtual Reality Technology Work?
VR combines hardware and software to create immersive experiences that fool the eye and brain. The hardware supports sensory stimulation and simulation such as sounds, touch, smell, or heat intensity, while the software renders the virtual environment.
Using sophisticated software algorithms, computers convert two-dimensional images and videos into three-dimensional ones. After these images and videos are rendered or processed, they are displayed on a screen in the VR goggles or headset.
A virtual reality experience mimics how your eye and brain form visuals. Since human eyes are about three inches apart, they form slightly different views. The brain combines those views into a sense of depth.
With VR applications, a pair of exact images is viewed from two different angles in order to replicate that phenomenon. Two identical pictures are shown for each eye instead of a single image covering the entire screen. The VR technology fools the viewer’s brain into believing that the image is multidimensional and depth-perceptive.
Using built-in skeletal trackers, the VR headset tracks your movements within the virtual world. VR headsets allow you to move in a 360° space and interact with virtual characters. You can also enhance your VR experience by adding language assistance, digital content, or supplemental brand information through VR software.
Algorithms similarly create stereo sound, which is projected to the headset in sync with the images. Based on your physical actions, motion and pressure sensors in the headset and hand controls inform the computer to change the 3D environment. The latest technology is working on making VR gloves and other technology that simulates all five senses, including touch, smell, and taste.
What Technology or Hardware Does Virtual Reality Use?
There are a number of VR accessories available, including motion controllers, headsets, trackers, treadmills, wired gloves, bodysuits, smelling devices, 3D mouse, and 3D cameras for creators. The technology is accessible through a web browser utilizing proprietary downloadable applications or web-based VR.
VR headsets, such as goggles, are head-mounted devices. There are often cameras, motion sensors or eye tracking in headsets. There are three main types of headsets:
- PC-Based VR Headsets: A PC headset typically costs the most because it offers the most immersive experience. Usually, these headsets are powered by external hardware and are cable-tethered to the headset. A dedicated display, built-in motion sensors, and an external camera tracker enhance the realism of the experience with high-quality sound and images.
- Standalone VR Headsets: A standalone VR headset is a wireless, integrated piece of hardware, like a tablet or phone. Standalone VR headsets don’t require a PC or a smartphone to deliver a VR experience. The self-contained headsets include built-in processors, GPU, sensors, battery, memory, displays, and more. However, wireless VR headsets are not always standalone. Some systems transmit information wirelessly from consoles or PCs nearby, while others use wired packs worn in a pocket or clipped to clothing.
- Mobile Headsets: Smartphones are covered by lenses in these shell devices. A smartphone becomes a VR device when lenses separate the screen to create stereoscopic images. The cost of mobile headsets is relatively low. Phones process data without wires. In comparison to game consoles and PCs, mobile phones don’t offer the best visual experiences. They also do not provide positional tracking.
VR Motion Controllers
In order to interact with virtual objects, you’ll need handheld controllers or wired gloves. The VR controller usually consists of buttons and touchpads that can be used to interact with the virtual environment. VR controllers are popular for VR gaming. As controllers have precise spatial positions, they can be used to interact finely with digital objects.
These headphones provide stereo sound and are often built into the headset. Virtual reality can feel so real because of audio feedback.
A 3D mouse is a control and pointer device, just like your traditional mouse, but specially designed for moving in virtual 3D spaces.
Accelerometers, multi-axis sensors, IR sensors, and lights are all employed in 3D mice for controlling 3D movement and 2D pointing.
Using cameras on the outside of the headset, the computer can adjust the virtual environment based on your real environment.
An optical tracking system tracks a user’s position by using visual information. There are a number of ways this can be done. Virtual reality systems typically use fixed cameras that act as electronic eyes to monitor tracked objects or people.
Some VR devices now include components which track your eye movements, motions, and facial expressions to tailor the virtual world to your preferences.
The device, which is worn on the hands, is also called a cyber glove or data glove. Sensor technologies capture data about physical movement. A motion tracker captures data on the glove’s rotation and global position similar to an inertial or magnetic tracking device. Several high-end wired gloves provide haptic feedback or tactile stimulation, allowing them to be used as output devices.
Omnidirectional Treadmills (ODTs)
Users can move physically in any direction using this accessory machine. Using an ODT, users can move freely within a VR environment for a completely immersive experience.
Smell devices are one of the newest VR accessories. The Tokyo-based company Vaqso offers a headset attachment that emits odors to convey the size and shape of candy bars. A fan-equipped device contains several different smells whose intensity changes according to the screen.
Temperature, scent, taste, humidity, and proximity sensors aren’t common (yet), but the technology exists. In the future, VR wearables will allow you to feel the sun’s warmth while on a virtual beach. Your living room will smell like the sea breeze and taste like lemonade.
What Software Does Virtual Reality Use?
In order to build VR, developers use a variety of software. A few examples are VR software development kits, visualization software, social platforms, training simulators and content management, game engines.
- VR Content Management Systems Software: This centralized workspace tool allows companies to collect, store, and analyze VR content.
- VR Game Engine Software: These tools are used to create VR video games.
- VR Software Development Kit (SDK): SDKs allow developers to design, develop, and test virtual reality applications.
- VR Social Platforms Software: These tools allow users to collaborate in VR from remote locations.
- VR Training Simulator Software: It is suitable for employee training in immersive environments in almost any industry.
- VR Visualization Software: To fully understand data, users interact with aggregated data in a virtual environment.
Applications of Virtual Reality – What Does Vr Allow Users to Do at the Moment?
VR is a cornerstone of many corporate digital transformation strategies ranging from medicine to tourism. Though It’s commonly associated with gaming, but also facilitates learning, simulates travel, communicates, supports sales, etc.
Statista estimates that in 2024 business investments in industrial maintenance and training in the U.S. will reach $4.1 billion. Here are some examples of Virtual Reality in everyday life:
- Entertainment: Immersive experiences will transform entertainment. Gamers and viewers will increasingly be able to move from passive to active viewing. Games and movies that allow you to choose your own POV will continue to provide new forms of engagement.
- Gaming: When people hear the word “virtual reality,” gaming is their first thought. In March 2020, 73% of 169 million gamers in the U.S. reported owning a gaming console, while 29% owned a VR-capable system, according to the Entertainment Software Association. VR gaming allows you to explore unknown universes in 3D through modern gaming consoles, controllers, and VR headsets. Several gaming systems, such as HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Oculus Quest, provide immersive gaming experiences without interrupting immersion.
- Training: An obvious application of VR is in employee training. Using a headset, this can also be done onsite or at home. With the advancement of technology, this will become a valuable tool in all corporate training, including situations that require complex decision-making.
- Military and Law Enforcement: Currently, VR is a valuable tool for simulations of combat, confrontations, and other situations. It can replace costly and sometimes dangerous real-life exercises. As a result of its ability to modify scenarios, it is appealing to all branches of the military and the defense industry.
- Healthcare: Healthcare practitioners, researchers, and patients can all benefit from it. VR could help patients with disorders such as anxiety or anorexia. The training of empathy would be invaluable for medical students as they prepare to be doctors (for instance). Surgical training is already conducted with VR.
- Travel and tourism: The hotel can show you around its property so you have an idea of what to expect. Luxury resorts and honeymoons can benefit from virtual reality. Instead of watching a video on the web or looking at 2D photos, the user would see (and feel) the location from their perspective.
- Real Estate: It is now possible for developers to go beyond 3D models to simulate life inside their new developments. Both homes and commercial spaces could benefit from VR. Moreover, co-working spaces can use VR to show prospective tenants the space before they join.
- Retail: It is possible for retailers to help consumers get a sense of how they interact with an environment by putting them in situations where they can try on clothes or objects. Using an actual wedding environment, a bride-to-be could try on a wedding dress.
- Architecture: The use of VR for early-stage design can provide different levels of detail. A 360-degree immersive experience can help architects visualize massing and spatial relationships.
- Art: Fine artists who push boundaries use VR as a tool for fine art. Immersive experiential art has already become a huge part of the work of multimedia artists around the world.
- Aviation: A real-life cockpit with VR technology is used to train commercial pilots.
- Aerospace: The F-35 plane is built by Lockheed Martin using virtual reality technology. In addition to designing planes, engineers now use VR glasses to inspect them. With VR, engineers are able to work 30% faster and with 96% accuracy.
- Conference: The headset simulates a meeting room, complete with furniture and colleagues. The combination of motion tracking and digital avatars allows users to control their digital selves and employ gestures. The virtual conference room can be viewed with a webcam video feed even without headsets.
- Data Visualization: VR has been used for years to visualize engineering and scientific data. From weather models to molecular visualization, new display technology has attracted attention.
- Dining: Project Nourished simulates eating by manipulating taste, smell, vision, sound, and touch. A person experiences the virtual as if it were a gourmet meal. This process involves a VR headset, an aroma diffuser, a rotating utensil, and tasteless, 3D-printed food. It aims to maximize the practical and therapeutic qualities of beverages, medicine, and food while limiting the consumption of natural resources.
- Education: In many cases, traditional instruction mediums and textbooks are ineffective for students with special needs. VR has made students more responsive and engaged. Students can explore a rainforest and see animals and plants they may not have seen before. Teachers at Charlton Park Academy in London use immersive technology to address their students’ unique needs. VR is an emerging technology in classrooms that allows students to experience content by ‘feeling’ it. In the classroom, virtual reality can be used in two ways, either through computers, keyboards, mice, or by using input devices, such as controllers and headsets.
- Manufacturing: VR allows designers and engineers to experiment with the look and build of vehicles before commissioning expensive prototypes. BMW and Jaguar use the technology for early design and engineering reviews. The car industry saves millions of dollars by reducing the number of prototypes built per vehicle line by using VR.
- Journalism: Immersive journalism allows viewers to experience events or situations described in documentary films and news reports from a first-person perspective. Whether it’s wildfires, tornadoes, or flooding, the Weather Channel uses mixed reality to communicate.
- Marketing and Advertising: Through virtual reality marketing, organizations can connect experience with action. The North Face and Toms Shoes both offer VR experiences that change the dynamic between the consumers and brands.
- Museums: Mobile phones, projectors, headsets, and web browsers allow visitors to reach locations that were previously unreachable. A permanent VR installation at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris allows visitors to explore different animal species and their relationships. In the exhibit, visitors can observe or interact with animals in their natural habitats.
- Social Media: VR allows people to connect in a more meaningful way. Using VRChat’s social VR experiences, its community is able to create. With spatialized 3D audio, multiplayer VR games, virtual space stations, and expressive lip-synced avatars, users can chat, socialize, and play.
- Sports: VR is used in many sports such as cycling, skiing, golf, and gymnastics.
Top VR Headsets for 2023
|Oculus Quest 2|
|HP Reverb G2|
|Sony PlayStation VR|
|HTC Vive Cosmos|
|HTC Vive Pro 2|
Top Mobile VR Headsets for 2023
|Samsung Gear VR|
|Mattel View-Master Deluxe|
|Nintendo Labo VR Kit|
Benefits of Virtual Reality
Benefits of Virtual Reality for education training, conferencing, convenience, and communication are unforgettable. Here are some of the benefits of VR:
- Practical Training: VR is a safe way to simulate dangerous situations for training purposes before going on duty.
- Engagement and Connection: VR provides users with an engaging and entertaining experience.
- Convenient Conferences: While saving time and money, virtual meetings maintain a sense of collegiality.
- Improved customer engagement: VR allows customers to visually analyze all the features and align them to their requirements through a realistic 3D experience.
- Improved customer retention: VR-enabled brands differentiate themselves from brands that engage in push marketing methods.
- Product designs: Virtual reality software allows you to mix and match vectors within a design sketch within a virtual space.
- Optimizing ROI: A VR project can take several months to a year to achieve profitability. Optimizing every value chain stage leads to more customers and deals.
- Reducing cost: Using VR for employee onboarding, performance evaluations, and appraisal meetings eliminates expensive training procedures.
- Remote connectivity: Virtual reality headsets use spatial mapping to bring people together in the same region. With audio connectivity, it resembles a holographic representation.
Challenges or Negative Effects of Virtual Reality
VR does have some disadvantages, including technical difficulties, addiction potential, loss of human connection, and expense. In VR, some problems can be mitigated, but others are inescapable.Here are some VR disadvantages:
- Addiction: Gaming and social media applications that use VR can lead to addiction for some people. Taking on multiple identities can cause social, psychological, and biological problems.
- Unethical hacking: AR/VR headsets with built-in motion detection make it easy for hackers to break into protected databases and steal sensitive data, such as banking information.
- Digital fatigue: Using VR headsets for a prolonged period of time can lead to digital fatigue and exhaustion. The human cornea is sensitive to high levels of laser exposure, making VR feel lightheaded and teary.
- Health Problems: In addition to nausea, dizziness, disorientation, and nausea, VR can also cause a loss of spatial awareness.
- Screen Door Effect: Your eyes are only inches away from the display when you wear a headset. Even with a good display resolution, you’ll see pixels or gaps between them. The mesh-like effect can irritate some users. Although newer headsets have improved, the issue has not been resolved.
- Loss of Human Connections: It can be problematic to rely on virtual connections rather than real-life social interactions. VR overuse can lead to depression or dissociation. We need to do more research on the impact of virtual reality on society.
- Expense: Although prices are coming down, VR systems are not affordable for everyone.
- Low cognitive function: In VR, tasks can be accomplished remotely instead of having to travel to a specific location to accomplish them. VR can reduce the natural ability of the human brain to build logic, however, because of applications like teleportation, artificial twins, and so on.
- Miniaturization: Small VR systems or headsets require high processing power, vision compatibility, memory, and batteries to provide high-scale VR experiences. Even though current VR systems claim to solve these problems, the existing miniaturization disrupts the flow of interaction.
Future of virtual reality
With time, VR use cases and applications will extend beyond its current capabilities. As VR headsets become more advanced, they will come pre-equipped with powerful 8K processors and integrated artificial general intelligence (AGI) sensors that will enable photorealistic images and conversational experiences in the virtual world.
Future generations will prefer a virtual environment to the physical world and invest time, money, and efforts in it. Virtual lands or NFTs have already attracted investors. Similarly to smartphones today, virtual reality headsets will be a common name and a standard gadget in every household and office.
VR would allow delegates from different countries to communicate and receive information from anywhere, at any time. In virtual reality, everyone will be able to connect and share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
What is the Importance of Audio in Virtual Reality
Audio plays an important role in creating credible VR experiences. Visuals and audio add presence and space to an environment. A user’s digital journey should also be guided by audio cues.
The human brain reacts more quickly to audio cues than to visual cues. It is necessary to produce precise environmental sounds and spatial characteristics in order to produce truly immersive virtual reality experiences.
What Is a Virtual Reality Headset?
VR headsets are head-mounted devices with displays, stereo sound, sensors, and compatible controllers that create an immersive and interactive experience.