Virtual reality has come a long way in just the last few years. What was once seen as a gimmick or an experimental technology is now being used to develop powerful new applications in fields ranging from engineering and design to healthcare and education. In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about virtual reality, including some important definitions, an explanation of different types of VR, details on different types of VR experiences, and much more.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is an immersive computer-generated experience that allows you to interact with content as if you were there. This experience is created through the interactions between computer hardware and software that simulates a real-life or fictional scenario. Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment that can be explored and interacted with through the use of special stereoscopic goggles, body tracking, or additional peripherals like gloves. Virtual reality is used in a variety of industries, including entertainment, medicine, architecture, engineering, and education. VR headsets have a head-mounted display (HMD) that provides a simulated visual environment.
How Does VR/AR/XR Work?
The most basic form of XR is made possible by a standard webcam, which is fed images of the real world. Software then uses these images to create a simulation of a 3D environment that you can explore and interact with using a computer. This type is known as crude augmented reality (AR). AR uses computer-generated sensory elements, such as sound and graphics, to enrich your real-world experience. Full-blown virtual reality requires a headset that fully immerses you in a computer-generated world. To create this experience, the VR headset uses a combination of sensors and software that tracks the position and orientation of your head in real-time. Using this data, a computer is able to create a simulation of a 3D environment that you can explore and interact with.
Types of Virtual Reality Headset
There are many different types of virtual reality headsets available, but the most important differentiation is between tethered and standalone headsets. Tethered headsets connect to a computer to deliver content using a cable or wireless adapter, while standalone headsets use an onboard computer and built-in screen to deliver content.
Desktop VR headsets – A desktop VR headset is designed to be plugged into a computer, usually, a gaming computer, are usually connected via a wire, though some newer models use a wireless adapter.
Stand-alone VR headsets – Stand-alone VR headsets have built-in computing power, so they don’t need to be plugged into a computer to deliver content. They usually use onboard sensors to track the position and orientation of your head in real-time.
Types of Virtual Reality Experience
360-degree video – A 360-degree video is a video that wraps around you to create a simulated visual environment. 360-degree videos are often filmed at a range of locations and are the simplest form of non-interactive VR.
First-person – In first-person, the simulated environment is from your simulated point of view. This type of virtual reality experience is most common and allows for object interaction and manipulation of your environment.
Third-person – In third-person, the simulated environment is from a dedicated point of view that’s not your own. This type of virtual reality experience is commonly delivered on a desktop VR headset, but not as popular as first-person.
Benefits of Virtual Reality
Training – Virtual reality is a great training tool. It allows you to practice a skill in a simulated environment, which is a safer way to learn than experimenting on the job. This is especially true for dangerous work. You can also create simulations of hazardous situations so that you can practice how to respond to those scenarios.
Experiencing something new – Virtual reality allows you to experience events that you would otherwise never be able to take part in. You can explore the Great Barrier Reef, walk on the surface of Mars, or even visit the International Space Station.
Collaboration – Collaboration in virtual reality lets you work together on projects as if you were in the same room. VR can also be used as a presentation tool to allow a large audience to experience something at the same time.
How to Stay Safe When Using VR
All virtual reality headsets are designed to be safe to use, but there are a few things you can do to stay safe while using them.
Make sure your headset is properly fitted to your head: You don’t want the headset to be too loose or too tight; otherwise, it could cause discomfort or health issues.
Stay hydrated: Remember to drink plenty of water while using a VR headset. VR headsets can cause you to sweat, and sweating can cause dehydration.
Avoid using VR if you have certain health conditions: If you have a health condition that could be negatively affected by VR, don’t use it.
Take breaks frequently: VR can be a very intense experience, so take frequent breaks to give your body a chance to rest.
Stay mindful: VR can cause you to forget that you’re not actually in the simulated environment. Stay aware of your surroundings and remove the headset if you feel like you’re getting too lost in the experience.
Finding the Right VR Headset for You
When shopping for a virtual reality headset, you’ll need to consider a few factors. First, you’ll need to decide whether you want a tethered or mobile VR headset. After that, you’ll need to decide which features are most important to you.
Cost – VR headsets vary widely in price, depending on their functionality and quality. You can find a cheap mobile VR headset (Smartphone based) for as little as £30, but the quality of those headsets is usually very poor. You can also spend thousands of dollars on a high-end headset, or somewhat of a middle ground with the Meta Quest 2.
Compatible platforms – When shopping for a VR headset, you’ll need to consider which platform it runs on: android, custom OS, or SteamVR. You should also pay attention to which VR platforms the applications you are interested in are supported on. Here at Imersifi, we can develop immersive experiences for desktops or a range of standalone devices to suit your needs.
Use Case for VR Outside of Entertainment
VR can be used for more than entertainment. It can also be used in engineering, education, and healthcare.
Engineering – Engineers can use VR to simulate real-life scenarios, such as an earthquake or flood. This allows them to see how a structure would respond to a crisis without putting anyone in danger.
Education – VR can be used to create simulated environments to explore complex topics, like the lithography process. VR can also be used to create experiences that you wouldn’t be able to do in real life, like visiting the surface of Mars or seeing what life is like in ancient Rome.
Healthcare – VR can be used in healthcare to create simulations of medical procedures. This allows students to practice procedures without requiring them to perform them on real patients. VR can also be used to treat patients with anxiety disorders or other psychological conditions (See Arachnophobia VR).
Virtual reality is an immersive computer-generated experience that allows you to interact with content as if you were there. There are many different types of VR headsets, including desktop VR headsets and standalone VR headsets. with many types of accompanying VR experiences, including 360-degree videos and first-person experiences. When shopping for a VR headset, keep in mind that you’ll need to consider its cost, compatibility, and appropriateness. Should you want to explore how VR can benefit you or your organization, get in touch with our friendly team.