What exactly is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality or VR refers to an artificial, immersive environment created with the help of computer technology through sensory stimuli (such as sight and audio). In simple words, it enables a person to connect with an artificial three-dimensional environment or a sensory environment wherein the user's physical movements, and motions reflect or stimulate the environment on the screen or device that they are using.
VR Technology has been an entertainment source to a lot of people, households, and even businesses to accelerate customer experience.
The technology has great potential in the emerging world across the globe, growing with sister technologies like AR (Augmented Reality) & MR (Mixed Reality), it is set to be worth around $184.66 billion by 2026.
How does Virtual Reality work?
You must have come across VR games or watched a movie in the IMAX theater where they provide you with headgear/set, goggles, gloves, or suits where you can feel, see, or teleport yourself in a virtual world. VR uses the extension of the human sensory system and the basic rules of perception to create or stimulate an immersive environment. VR headset or gear is the most essential component that replaces the surroundings and stimuli with the artificial or virtual world created in software.
The Gyroscopic Sensors, Accelerators, and Magnetometers installed in the headset regulate your interactions with the virtual world based on your physical movement & motions. These devices let you immerse in the virtual world by creating real-time coordination between your physical position & gesture the adjustments in the virtual environment. VR also uses Spatial Audio alongside immersive videos that give you a sense of being present at a place physically and listening to everything in detail that's happening around there.
For instance, you enter a virtual simulation of a Jungle, where you can listen to the sounds of creepers, air waving through dry leaves, or the sound of flowing water all at once.
What are the 3 categories of Virtual Reality?
After understanding how Virtual Reality works, the next step is to understand its three primary categorisations, which are as follows:
Several gaming companies use non-immersive virtual experience wherein you only need a computer or video game console and input devices like keyboard, mouse, or controlling devices like joystick or remote, allowing users to control it with their physical movements.
Semi-immersive virtual technology provides an experience wherein a user can be a part of the virtual environment and partially connected with the physical world. It uses 3D graphics, high-resolution displays, powerful computers, and projectors to simulate the virtual environment. This technology is majorly used in Education and Training field & purposes.
Fully immersive technology is the most realistic simulation that uses immersive videos & sounds to enhance the experience. VR creates simulation with the help of 3D effects, high-resolution graphics & immersive audio to make it more realistic and closer to reality. To experience and interact with fully immersive VR, the user needs VR equipment like VR glasses or head mount displays (HMD). The technology is highly used in the gaming & entertainment industry.
What is the difference between Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality?
What are the 4 elements of Virtual Reality?
With a better understanding of how does virtual reality work it is also essential to know the4 primary elements of it: virtual world, immersion, sensory feedback, and interactivity.
VR uses computer technology to create a Virtual Environment that replicates the stimuli of the physical world and allows the user to interact with it on a real-time basis. This simulation enables them to feel that they are a part or are getting teleported to this virtual world.
Immersion talks about making the experience closer to reality using immersive graphical content and sound. With the help of VR Headset and Spatial Audio users can fully immerse themselves in the virtual world while playing a game or watching a movie etc...
By replicating the principle of human perception VR gives a space wherein a user can move around or track their motion on the screen and change the positions with the help of VR equipment. Sometimes it's more than just Audio and Video, as VR also plays around with senses like the taste, smell, and forces to provide an immersive experience.
The real-time interaction on screen gives a sense of inclusion and immersion between the user and the VR system with the help of sensor-enabled technology. For example, a user can kill a monster, shoot, kick or pick something on the screen in the virtual world.
What are the devices used for Virtual Reality system?
VR headset is a wearable device that completely covers users' eyes to provide an immersive experience using high-quality 3D graphics and visual content. VR headsets are also called VR goggles and can work with smartphones by putting the devices into the headset. The headset uses various technologies like an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and proximity sensor to detect the user's motion and enhance the overall experience.
Following are the most popular VR headset devices available in the market.
Host computing devices
A user needs to have a high processing computing system to run and experience Virtual Reality content. And it could be a personal computer, laptop, PlayStation, or smartphone, depending on the configurations and functionalities.
Input and output devices
VR input and output devices enable the user to experience or interact with the virtual environment by syncing the coordination between the user and VR.
Following are a few input & output devices used in VR.
- Data gloves
- Joysticks & PlayStation Move
- Tracking balls & buttons
- Motion Tracker
- PlayStation Camera
- Virtuix Omni platform for motion
What are the applications of Virtual Reality?
The use of Virtual Reality is no more subdue to just the gaming or entertainment industry, but now it's been used in tourism, healthcare, automotive, and architecture as well.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism companies used VR technology to give an experience of international travel destinations to their customers and thousands of people around the world by teleporting them to these places virtually.
The architecture industry is now using VR technology to assess prototypes, models, and designs before experiencing or building them physically. It gives leverage to the parties involved in the construction by saving money, time, and resources.
E-Commerce companies are also investing in VR technologies to provide a better customer experience journey giving them virtual access to the products & services to gauge the feel and look before they finally make the purchase.
VR technology is emerging rapidly and making a foray into industries like Military, Fashion, Heritage & Travel, Sport, Telecommunications, and Construction with a storm.