Understanding Virtual Reality
When we hear the term Virtual Reality, the first thing that comes to our mind is the experience we had with a VR headset. It was one of its kind. It was new. It was mesmerizing. Something directly resembling those gadgets in sci-fi movies.
“The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.”- Mark Zuckerberg
The advancement of technology has made it possible for us to experience something that once was far from our imagination. Now, this technology completely blends in with our daily lives. Education, entertainment, health, and care, this technology is here to stay. We have only conquered a small part of the wide-area Virtual Technology is. But what exactly is Virtual Reality?
WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY?
Virtual Reality is a third-dimensional digital environment generated by a computer. The environment is made in such a way that the user experience can be as real as possible. This technology is designed to imitate the real-world digitally by simulating sensory feelings, which creates a sense of immersion. This immersive nature of Virtual Technology is what makes it the next-gen gadget.
The experience is stimulated with the help of gadgets like VR headsets, glasses, and gloves making a person feel like he is actually present in that environment. Allowing the user to be fully immersed in the generated environment, Virtual Technology sets the floor for a new view of education, work environment, health, and most importantly the entertainment sector.
This technology may seem futuristic but has been laying around since the mid 20th century. With its first popular reference in the book “The Judas Mandala” by Damien Broderick, who describes it as something without any limitations, Virtual Reality sets the stage for a world of a being’s imagination. Imaginations hold no limit which makes Virtual Reality limitless.
In reality, we are far from such technology but not too far from any such limitless environment. Third-dimensional projection of a person’s conscience is the core of such technology and deep down we all know it’s possible.
One of the very first Virtual Reality devices, Sansoroma, a machine with a built-in seat and 3D screens, capable of generating external stimuli like odors and vibrations with a chair that moves according to the respective scene on the screen, making the experience as realistic as possible for the viewers. Now, Sansorama was a whole package back then but our smartphones and TVs are also a part of virtual reality. We may think of a VR headset to be the first one, but we have been experiencing virtual reality with flat, 2D screens as well. Now for there to be some reasonable explanation and to understand how they can be different from or similar to each other we need to know, discuss, and classify different types of Virtual Reality.
5 TYPES OF VIRTUAL REALITY
Virtual Reality is an ever-expanding and ever-changing field. The prospects of this technology are so wide that it itself has a subdivision with each division having a theory or explanation of their own. With currently available knowledge, Virtual Reality is classified into five different types.
This is the type of virtual reality that generates an experience through a 2D flat screen like a PC, TV, or mobile phone screen. Though they don’t generate any stimulus or ignite any senses, they did fit in with the explanation. They were capable of sending our minds into awe with their content. The flat-screens around us are capable of capturing our mind into another world, but a limited world. Theoretically, we get to experience any content we want, knowledge, entertainment, health, fitness, and games but that’s the limit. In the beginning, they were amazing but there was nothing much after movies, channels, and games. It was someone else’s story, idea, or dream. It is interesting, but with immersive Virtual Reality, people get to be a part of that story, idea, or dream.
Semi Immersive Reality
Semi Immersive Virtual Reality has found itself useful in the field of education and training. This technology creates a partial virtual environment to interact with. The digital environment is created with the help of projections and graphical computing.
Fulfilling the true meaning of virtual reality, this technology helps people to experience a situation without having to deal with any physical experience. This unique feature of semi-immersive technology makes military training and education innocuous and effective.
Fully immersive reality
Full immersion in a virtual environment. Sounds so overwhelming and exciting at the same time. This type of virtual reality experience is generated with the help of very effective and highly synchronized devices and computers. Devices able to detect and generate a sense of sound, sight, and even the slightest movement highly synchronized with the user’s experience.
Some devices used are head-mounted display (HMD), sensory gloves, speakers, and in some extreme immersive situations suspensive wires and frames.
This is the type of reality where the generated digital environment can be shared with more than one user. This type of environment makes virtual reality an interactive experience.
Collaborative reality can be categorized as both augmented and virtual reality depending on its application and use. Though not fully immersive, collaborative technology is a distinguished part of the digital environment experience.
VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) is a standard file format that can be used to illustrate 3D objects like houses, buildings, and anything with possible 3D structure, over the internet. This allows people to design their own 3D objects and experience the wonders of world-wide-web.
DIFFERENCES WITH AUGMENTED REALITY
Augmented Reality is the projection or addition of virtual non-existing 3D objects in the existing environment. As per their given definitions, the difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is understandable and noticeable. But their current applications draw a thin line to distinguish them from each other.
As discussed Virtual reality is a digital environment in which the user is fully immersed with the help of specific gadgets, mainly a VR headset. The environment is fully immersive and everything the user experiences is artificially constructed. There is no subjection or portrayal of the real world. On the other hand, augmented reality is the third-dimensional projection of real-world/artificial objects in an existing real-world environment. Real-world objects become a framework for augmented objects or the environment. A good example of augmented reality is the game Pokemon Go.
There are certain circumstances where real and virtual worlds co-exist and interact in real-time. This type of environment is called Mixed Reality. Mixed Reality is the merge of physical and digital objects to produce new visualization and interactive environments.
MAIN APPLICATIONS OF VIRTUAL REALITY
Virtual Reality allows people to experience something that does not affect them in reality but is as real as it can be. This allowed people to practice or experience things that they can not do practically. Now we are aware of the wonders of this technology but the real question here is what can it be used for, how can it be beneficial for us, in what ways can we use it?
“There are as many applications for VR as you can think of, it’s restricted by your imagination.”-John Goddard
Now, let’s discuss how this amazing technology is being applied in our daily lives, how it has changed and benefitted certain sectors of our daily lives. Let’s start with something that’s a given,
Cinephiles and gamers know what we are talking about here. Virtual Reality takes entertainment to a whole new level. It sets the stage for a new way of entertainment. Cinemas and games have been people’s sources of recreation and entertainment for ages. We have always enjoyed a movie and thrived in an interesting game.
One of the well-known uses of VR is in gaming applications. Companies such as Oculus, HTC, and Sony, have produced a range of products which users can use for a total immersive gamine experience.
Education and training-
VR holds the ability to bring the book to life and demonstrate every bit practically virtually. As a known fact practical experience is a better and effective way to understand and learn something.
At another level, Virtual Reality creates a way for harmless and effective practical learning. For example, medical training with virtual reality will allow students to perform and understand the various parts and complexities of the human body without having blood on their hands.
Military in the US and UK have adopted the use of Virtual Reality in their military training. VR allows flexibility in the use of mechanisms. Through VR they can be subjected to various possible situations and circumstances. This technique helps them measure their strength and weaknesses. Since there is no real-world damage or attack, it allows them to overcome their fears and increase their strength.
Business Development and Marketing-
The use of Virtual reality for marketing has allowed us to experience something remarkable. Many companies have used VR to market their products over the years. The New York Times, Mac Donalds, IKEA, and Volvo have had their fair share of VR marketing. Many fashions apparels and clothing companies have used Virtual Reality to market their products.
The use of VR gives its users the benefit of experiencing and using their products virtually.
Virtual Reality is a part of the technology with the scope of further development and growth. According to a report from IDTechEx on future trends of VR and AR, the specific market has the scope of over $30Bn b 2030. The future of VR holds great discoveries and new in-depth experiences in various fields.