What is virtual reality?
Unknown worlds have always attracted man, and with the development of technology, he learned to create them himself. Today, traveling to another dimension with the help of special glasses is not an invention of optimistic science fiction writers. Everyone can move to the world of adventure, become a participant in hostilities, or turn an empty room into a hall of a luxurious palace. Virtual reality technology (or VR) will help to do this.
Virtual reality is an artificial reality specially created by human using computer technologies, transmitted through sensations: sight, hearing. Unlike AR, VR completely immerses a person in an artificially simulated world. To transmit the image, sound and other elements, in addition to special software, you need sensors, headphones, glasses or a helmet, as well as various controls. We will tell you about virtual reality and the main areas of its application.
History of virtual reality technology
VR development began in the 1960s. The task of the scientists was to create a program and device that would allow a person to be in an environment indistinguishable from the real one, but obeying different laws. If augmented reality was of interest to employees of the military sphere, then virtual more attracted creative people. In particular, filmmakers.
The first prototype of such a device was created by Morton Heilig. His Sensorama was more like a huge slot machine. Visitors could ride a motorcycle along a city street. During the trip, people not only saw landscapes flashing along the road, but also felt smells, sounds and vibrations. This created an immersive effect that was magnificent at the time. The first Sensorrama is still in running order, and it even has its own website.
But the development of virtual reality did not stop there. In 1967, Ivan Sutherland invented and constructed a computer-powered helmet. Another difference was that the image for the first time changed depending on the tilt and turn of the head. When the technology for creating virtual reality was sufficiently developed, more serious scientists became interested in it. In particular, from the military sphere, where they decided to use virtual reality for training airborne troops.
Instead of photo and video shooting, computer graphics were used to create virtual landscapes. Created in the 70s Aspen’s Cinema Map made it possible to take a walk around a small American town, simulated on a computer. In the 1980s, it became possible to add controls to VR, and at the end of the decade, the term “virtual reality” appeared. It was introduced by Jaron Lanier. Cyberpunk literature, meanwhile, was gaining popularity, reflecting humanity’s dreams of more realistic computer simulations.
When the technology reached such a level of development that the creation of virtual reality became almost universally available, a lot of areas appeared where it is actively used. Experts are engaged in the development of VR for the benefit of medicine, the military sphere, construction organizations, as well as cultural and entertainment institutions. Virtual reality is in great demand in the gaming industry. People make films and write books about virtual reality, and that contributes to its popularization.
VR types – Desktop VR
This type of virtual reality can be called classic. To immerse yourself in the simulation, you need a special helmet and a computer with software. You also need a tracking system in space, consisting of sensors that are attached to the body. This method allows you to achieve the highest image quality and uninterrupted broadcasting. But it has a significant drawback: glasses, a control system and other accessories are quite expensive.
One of the best examples of desktop VR is the HTC Vive glasses. They allow you to immerse yourself in the world of your favorite game and become a participant in its plot. A player has a lot of possibilities, as the device reacts to its movement in space, gestures and actions. The development of virtual reality for computers allows you to create impressive simulations in terms of details. This is especially important when developing VR games, when you want to immerse the player in a realistic fantasy world.
VR types – Standalone VR
This type of glasses is cheaper, but cannot boast of the huge performance of a personal computer. The fact is that no connection to a desktop device is required at all, they work autonomously. One of the advantages of such a gadget is the price ranging from 250 to 1 thousand dollars. The minus – simplified, cartoonish graphics due to lower performance.
With the help of these glasses, you can use the Facebook Horizon app. It gives the opportunity to walk the streets of the virtual city, meeting other users. The app lets you explore, have fun, and even be creative. This app has bright optimized graphics that make you feel like a hero of a futuristic cartoon.
VR types – Mobile VR
Today, people can immerse themselves in virtual reality even using an ordinary phone. You only need a special app and a device, which turns a phone into VR glasses. Such a device demonstrates an image for two eyes on one screen; it is capable of responding to head rotation and allows you to view the space around you. The simulations created for a phone cannot boast of great graphics, but for those who want to test the technology without spending a lot of money, will like them. Developing virtual reality apps for a mobile phone is more difficult than working with a computer or offline.
Walk The Plank invites you to go to the roof of a high building and walk along a dangerous thin plank over the abyss. Even with its simple graphics, this adventure guarantees a thrill for people who are afraid of heights. After all, you can fall from a virtual skyscraper.
VR types – Web VR
To play a game or visit a museum exhibition in virtual reality, a person does not need to download a big app. If you have special VR gadgets, you can use them right in your browser. It is enough to open the desired page and connect the devices.
One of the most interesting examples of web VR is Gallery. This app allows you to visit a virtual art gallery. You can navigate through it by pressing the buttons as in an ordinary game, and change the viewing angle with the mouse, even if you do not have special glasses and a joystick. Virtual reality development for browsers is not as common as the creation of apps for special glasses or desktop devices, but very interesting.
Example: Web VR - https://lookinar.com/gallery/
The use of virtual reality
The VR development is not limited to the entertainment industry. Virtual reality helps people of various spheres to do their job faster and better, and serves as a tool for creativity. Therefore, the technology is actively mastered by people from various fields.
VR in culture and art
The development of virtual reality apps is also a kind of creativity, since the new reality is created in the smallest detail by artists and designers. But inside a computer simulation there are plenty of opportunities for creativity. For example, Tilt Brush allows users to create drawings and 3D graphics right in the virtual space. It’s interesting, exciting and very convenient, because the scale and detail become larger.
VR in architecture
For architects and designers, virtual reality is the most convenient way for creativity. After all, you can both work on a project and conduct spectacular and interesting presentations with its help. For example, NVIDIA supports the work of several specialists in a team. Once loaded into the program, architects can collaborate on the project using clear virtual tools. It also allows you to travel within the building project, creating a unique design based on the textures loaded into the library. Development of both large and small projects is possible in VR.
VR in education
In the educational sphere, computer technology is being introduced as a tool for showing interesting, engaging presentations. This is a great opportunity to attract more students to research activities. A prime example is the Hold the World program. It allows you to walk through the world famous Museum of Natural History with a virtual copy of the historian David Attenborough. A computer guide knows stories about all the exhibits and will tell them if you stop near an object.
VR in entertainment
The entertainment industry is the first thing that comes to mind when you mention virtual reality. Today, the developers of a huge number of games allow gamers to touch their favorite universe and even completely immerse themselves into this world. The Half-Life: Alyx game with excellent graphics and virtual reality support is available to users today. Fans of this universe have a lot of interesting tasks, epic battles and other delights of the computer dimension worked out to the smallest detail. The development of VR games is one of the most promising areas, since the demand for them is very high.
VR in industry
In the industrial sphere, virtual reality allows you to perfect the technology of manufacturing parts without using real resources. This is a huge plus, since savings in the intermediate stages allow you to produce better quality goods in the future. NVIDIA allows you to create realistic prototypes of cars, equipment and various production devices. It is convenient to work alone or with a team in the simulation.
VR in retail
Virtual reality and trade are much more closely related than it might seem at first. ShelfZone lets you visit a virtual store without leaving your own living room. Putting on special glasses, the user can walk between the shelves of the supermarket, find everything he needs, add to the cart and place an order. Products and other purchases will then be delivered to the specified address. This is a highly creative outlook on online shopping that can make great advertising for any supermarket.
VR in a military sphere
The main problem of the military sphere is the complexity of modeling various situations during trainings. For example, the hostage taking cannot be repeated without the use of computer technology. The VR Combat Simulator generates a complex scenario of the operation, and the participants can interact with objects inside the simulation without fear of real people being hurt. This method of training soldiers reduces the risk of injury, but does not affect the speed of shooting and camouflage skills development.
Prospects for the virtual reality development
Virtual reality today is a sufficiently affordable technology that covers many areas of our life. If scientists continue to work on more powerful mini-processors or can reduce the cost of producing virtual glasses for working with a computer, everyone can afford to study, have fun, work and communicate in a VR environment. The development of virtual reality apps is becoming more widespread thanks to the availability of new tools.
Today, more and more people are learning about virtual reality – an interesting and promising technology with a great future. With its help, it is easy to reduce the cost of raw materials and make the work of representatives of various professions more comfortable, safe and simple. Because of its novelty and uniqueness, VR remains one of the most powerful marketing tools for drawing people’s attention to a product, service or company. The creation of virtual reality is becoming easier every year thanks to the introduction of more modern technologies. The development of VR games, apps for work and scientific programs is of interest to young enthusiasts and professionals with experience.