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Print Posted on 09/18/2017 in Virtual Reality

What is Virtual Reality?

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) can be defined as the computer technology which uses virtual reality headsets to generate realistic images, sounds as well as other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual (imaginary) environment. With VR headsets, you can look around the artificial world. Depending on the quality of your VR equipment, you can also move around and interact with virtual items or features. VR headsets are a combination of a head-mounted goggles with a screen in front of the eyes and programmes such as audio. They include headphones and speakers. 

“Virtual reality” is also used to refer to remote communication environments that provide a virtual presence of users with tele-existence and telepresence through virtual artifacts. The immersive environment is to a great extent similar to the real world, a feature that enables it to create a lifelike experience grounded in reality. Augmented reality is also a form of VR which layers virtual information through a smartphone, device or over a live camera feed into a headset. 

Application of Virtual Reality

Some VR systems have a game controller or some other equipment that transmit sensations such as vibrations to the user and are known as haptic systems.  The tactile information is referred to as force feedback in video gaming, medical and military training applications. 

History of Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality Modelling Language was first introduced in 1994 for the purpose of developing virtual worlds independent of headsets. Subsequently, in 1997, Web3D consortium was founded for the purpose of developing industry standards for web-based 3D graphics. Later, the consortium developed X3D based on the Virtual Reality Modelling Language framework as an open source standard for web-based distribution of virtual reality content. 

Today, modern VR displays are based on technology that was developed for smartphones and includes:

  • Small HD screens for stereoscopic displays

  • Gyroscopes and motion sensors for tracking hand, head and body positions

  • Small, light-weight and fast processors

These components are quite affordable for independent VR developers. This is demonstrated by the success of the first independently developed VR headset by Oculus Rift Kickstarter in 2012. The development of 360-degree cameras, also known as omnidirectional cameras or VR cameras with the capability to record in all directions but in highly compressed formats for online streaming has led to an increase in independent production of VR images as well as videos. On the other hand, photogrammetry has increased in significance particularly in the combination of several high resolution photographs for creating detailed 3D environments and objects in VR applications.

Current Trends in Virtual Reality

As of 2016, there were more than 230 companies developing VR related products. Major tech companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony had dedicated AR and VR groups. Most headsets released that year had dynamic binaural audio. In the same year, HTC began commercial production of its HTC VIVE steam VR headset, a sensor based tracking that allows for free movement of users within a defined space. In January 2017, Sony filed a patent that indicated that the company was developing a location tracking technology for PlayStation VR.

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