What Is Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that digitally simulates the environment in which a user can immerse and with which they can interact. The environment can be a real world simulation or completely artificial and stylized.
The user experiences the created environment with vision, but for even greater immersion, the experience is accompanied by hearing, but also tactile or olfactory sensations.
For VR to be immersing, synchronization between all perceptions is needed to simulate reality as faithfully as possible. For example, in a simulated environment, we should feel something on our hands when we expect to. If we expect a scent, we should get it.
Only two perceptions, vision and hearing, are mostly used for immersion. It is still necessary to provide a 3D motion image that simulates our two-eye vision and the surround sound.
Examples of Virtual Reality in Everyday Life
Virtual Reality is used in many industries, but it is still a relatively new technology (even though the first prototype was created in 1964), which we do not use every day. Virtual reality is used mainly for training or activities that are dangerous or require extreme precision. There are some examples:
- Medicine – Current or future doctors can practice operations without risk to patients
- Military Training – This is a flight training where the pilot tries out all the functions of the fighter without risking a real plane their life. Soldiers can also train military clashes or special missions to simulate a real-world environment. They then already know the environment in the real action.
- Similators in Driving School – Even these trainers can be described as virtual reality, although it is a rather imperfect simulation. However, a driving school student will try driving without risk to himself, his surroundings or the car.
- Games – Virtual reality games can also be played with special headsets. However, it is not a stable trend yet and these games are a marginal and perhaps rather experimental part of the market.
VR Headset Oculus Rift and Other Goggles and VR Glasses
Oculus Rift is one of the first and also the one of the most well-known VR headsets, which provides both 3D images and 3D sound. Originally created with the support of a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, it was then bought by Facebook, which provides additional funding.
Nowadays, there are many different VR glasses, goggles a or headsets, so the user can choose which ones they like. Thanks to the fact that technology has been around for a couple of years, you can buy VR headsets and VR glasses for under $50.
However, not all VR glasses or headsets can be used across devices. You can’t buy glasses and play with them on PlayStation. This requires special PlayStation VR headset, which in turn cannot be used elsewhere. Before buying any headset, you need to find out what applications are available for that device.
Make Your Own VR Viewer from Cardboard and a Smart Phone
Nowadays you can make simple virtual reality viewer using a headset made of cardboard and a smartphone with special app. The 3D effect is achieved by dividing the screen by displaying an image adapted to the right and the left eye on the left and right sides, with both screens separated by a headset so that each eye can see only its image.
It is an absolutely basic virtual reality headset that you can just test out. Thanks to the fact that the Google Cardboard costs $15, it is really for fun and testing the whole technology. Advanced features such as 3D sound, olfactory or tactile sensations cannot really be s expect this device.
Will an Entire Virtual World Ever Exist?
Probably the most famous example of virtual reality and the perfect simulation of the world has been shown by the Matrix trilogy and its complementary games and spin-offs. This world worked as a perfect simulation when people were not even aware that everything around them was created by a computer program.
Such a vast world is definitely not in our ability to create. Similarly, computing power is not sufficient, and even immersion-enabling technologies cannot create such a perfect simulation.
On the other hand, never say never. The world of technology move forward incredibly fast, so it is possible that in in the future, such a perfect simulation of the real (or other realistic) world really will exist. But it will take many decades and it is a question of whether mankind will actually go this way.