Lets Talk About Virtual Reality!

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality (or VR for short) is an artificial computer-generated environment that you can interact with in a seemingly real or physical way. VR technology uses headsets or special gloves to track your body’s movements and respond accordingly, making the experience feel more like you’re inside the game than just watching it on a screen.

Virtual Reality is being developed and tested for different purposes, such as gaming (gaming manufacturers are among the most interested in VR), education, military training, medical training, and much more.

Who’s Using VR Now?

Virtual reality (VR) has been used in game development since the 1980s. Most of today’s games use a VR headset to provide you with another layer of reality—separate from your physical world—that you can interact with. In other words, a VR headset makes a game seem more real to you by making you feel like you’re actually part of the game.

What are the Benefits of Virtual Reality?

VR in gaming offers many benefits, such as improved graphics and free-movement capabilities. However, there are also other applications in which these virtual worlds could be used to improve your life. For instance:

Virtual training can teach us how to do something better or faster than we could learn from normal instruction.

Virtual simulations could be used by doctors or ordinary people to learn about other people’s lives.

Virtual environments could run university classes on subjects that they can’t normally teach for reasons of cost and space.

A real-life version of a game could be used to keep kids in school, such as a simulation of their school classes. After all, most kids wouldn’t want to miss out on important lessons because they are stuck in front of the TV.

Virtual Reality in Gaming

Virtual gaming is possible because the three layers of reality are all simulated. The computer, the headset and your brain are all connected together and allow you to interact with your game in real time. Virtual gaming can be done with most types of headsets, ranging from low cost to high-end expensive ones.

How can you get into Virtual Reality?

It isn’t too hard to find a VR headset nowadays. In fact, some of them are already available for your phone. You can also find prototypes at tech fairs, booths or even online on websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

In the future, VR headsets will become indistinguishable from normal glasses. They will be affordable for everybody and used everywhere in our everyday lives. In the meantime, you can get cheap VR headsets that are very easy to set up and use.

A simple way of enjoying VR is by installing a Google Cardboard app, which costs less than a dollar on the Google Play Store. Then you simply need to download the app onto your smartphone, find a compatible VR headset and enjoy watching movies and videos in this new virtual world.

You can also buy a more advanced VR headset that costs over $100. It has better graphics, a high-quality screen and better tracking. This headset is fantastic, although it is a little bit big for people with glasses.

VR Entertainment

A major use of virtual reality is entertainment in which the quality of the images is higher than real life and it allows you to interact with your favorite characters in the game. Virtual reality can also be used in education and training, which teaches new skills to the virtual reality game player.

Virtual Reality in Training

Virtual reality (VR) is used extensively for military training. Military forces use VR for training to simulate battlefields by using 3D graphics. This prevents injuries while providing cost-effective alternatives to real-world training.

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift is a high-tech headset that looks like a regular pair of glasses that makes it possible to engage in virtual worlds with the help of a computer and sensors. It has a kind of a high-tech graphic display and the user can easily wear it on their head. The Rift is available to buy for $599.

HTC Vive

HTC Vive is a virtual reality headset that lets you explore your environment and interact with objects in it, such as digital characters. It provides a whole new level of realism to gaming. HTC Vive also allows you to walk around in your own space while wearing the headset. The device includes two controllers for navigation, and an additional camera tracks the movements of your head. You can buy HTC Vive for $799 and try in its open-source platform SteamVR.

HoloLens

HoloLens is a mixed reality computing headset developed by Microsoft for virtual and augmented reality applications and has been in development since 2013. The HoloLens can be used with some of the applications in Windows Mixed Reality to provide a more immersive experience.

Development of VR

Virtual reality has been in development since the 1980s and was used in some games but it wasn’t until early in the 21st century that it started to use as an entertainment device. This new virtual world was created to give people a much more realistic experience than they get from viewing videos or playing games on real life devices.

Most of the VR headsets are being used now are the ones that have a high-tech screen, offer you completely free movement and allow you to interact with other people on the same virtual world. The original Virtual Reality headsets were big and bulky and not very comfortable to use; however, nowadays they are being developed into much smaller designs.

VR devices like the Oculus Rift are taking video gaming to a whole new level. You can actually feel as though you are present in the game and be able to interact with everything around you. Companies around the world are creating their own versions of VR headsets and putting them up for sale on a worldwide market that has been growing steadily every year.

As people get more used to the idea of virtual reality, they will be attracted to the product because it is an exciting, new entertainment system that is changing the way we interact with technology. Virtual reality is growing in popularity every year and the future looks bright for this new kind of entertainment. It’s creating a whole new world that transcends our current technology and gives us unlimited possibilities.

Virtual Reality Modeling Language

Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) is a formal language for describing and defining virtual reality systems, the first version of its ISO standard was created in 1994.

X3D

X3D is a high-level domain-specific XML markup language for the storage and retrieval of 3D graphics and multimedia content. Introduced as a successor of the VRML for 3D graphics in 2001.

Haptic Technology

Haptic technology uses touch to communicate a sense of touch on your device. Haptic controllers convert human touch to messages that computers interpret as instructions. People can use the controllers to interact with virtual objects, moving them around or controlling actions with the help of these controllers.

Virtual Reality Headset Types

There are two main types of virtual reality headsets: tethered and untethered. The tethered VR experience is attached to a computing device via wires that run between the headset and the device, which limits freedom of movement. Uncontrolled movement could potentially cause damage to the user or loss of data. The untethered VR headset is connected directly to a computing device, but without wires.

Game Engines for Virtual Reality

Game engines are used as the foundation of video games development. Developers use game engines to create characters, buildings, props, and items that make up the game. These are high-powered applications that provide a framework for game development and can make complex tasks easier.

Game engines have become commonplace in all forms of gaming; however, virtual reality has changed things in a big way. Developers are creating new interfaces to accommodate the use of virtual reality headsets and controllers so they can be used in non-VR games with VR capabilities.

Unity3D

Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies. The company was established in May 2003 and the first public release was in 2005. Unity 3D is a comprehensive, freely licensed 3D development tool that has been used in over 6,000 published titles on nearly every major platform including Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PS4, Nintendo Wii U and smart TVs. Unity supports third party tools like Nvidia’s GameWorks which enables developers to access more than 600 effects or features, enhancing their games with dynamic water surface simulations and physics-based special effects such as smoke and fire.

Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine is a suite of applications for crafting high-quality games across platforms (PC/Mac, consoles and mobile) as well as interactive cinematic experiences. It was developed by Epic Games, and made commercially available in mid 90s.

Lumberyard

Lumberyard is an upcoming game engine developed by Amazon based on CryEngine, created to power games for both console and the web. The engine is designed to integrate with Amazon’s existing infrastructure of cloud services, including AWS and Twitch Prime. The preview release has been announced in 2020.

Popular Virtual Reality Games

In VR, there are three main types of games: First person shooter (FPS), vehicles, and puzzle. One is able to interact with objects in the game by using controllers and will be able to explore an environment or world that they are in. There have been many popular video games using virtual reality such as ‘Minecraft’, ‘Robo Recall’, and ‘Pokémon Go’ which has had a popular following worldwide.

If you would like to commute to school while playing these games during your free time, go ahead and try it out in an arcade. You can also check out the ‘Google Daydream View’ which is a set of goggles that you can strap on your head using lightweight technology. Some people who have bought the Google Daydream View are able to experience the game ‘Dragon Front’ which is designed for console systems such as PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Other VR applications

Virtual Reality can also be used for medical purposes which includes training. A clinical trial used virtual reality to train doctors and nurses how to examine areas of the human body they have never been to before. Virtual reality is also useful in training soldiers how to take care of their soldiers and military equipment such as tanks, planes, and submarines.

One study has shown that 48% of patients would talk about a virtual reality experience if it was just an option for entertainment.

Virtual reality has made it possible for patients to experience the feeling of being in a hospital that they never have before. Patients who are experiencing any kind of surgery can be given sensory input that can let them know what is going on around them and if they are able to feel anything. Virtual reality is also used for special needs education where children who are unable to attend school due to safety reasons, can learn about their environment by using virtual reality.

Companies for VR

In August 2017, Skydance Media and Google announced a partnership to create a $50 million virtual reality fund. The money will be used to produce new VR projects from Skydance Interactive that will be released through the company’s own VR subscription service, Skydance VR.

In September 2017, Oculus Studios and Facebook launched Oculus Launch Pad, an initiative aimed at supporting and developing ideas from top creative minds around the world. In just two weeks, the launch pad has already seen the submission of 40+ projects, and in 10 days will be accepting new submissions. The selected projects will then be incubated at Oculus Studios, where they have access to resources to integrate Oculus Rift into their VR Stories or create full-fledged experiential games and experiences alongside Oculus VR.

Conclusion

Virtual Reality is a new kind of entertainment that is being introduced to the world. It is a 3D system produced by the use of an AR or VR headset and it can be used for playing games, watching movies and accessing different applications on your smartphone through your phone’s screen.

One major advantage that Virtual Reality has over other kinds of entertainment is that it can be done anywhere, anytime you want. You don’t need to wait for the limited opening hours of a movie theater or have to carry your heavy laptop with you in order to watch movies or play games. All you need is a good pair of quality VR/AR glasses and a smartphone with an application that supports the Virtual Reality system.

Virtual Reality is not just limited to entertainment purposes. It has many potential applications in education, science, healthcare and mobile technology.

For more interesting and useful articles, please read PC Ocular magazine.

Benkő Attila is a Hungarian senior software developer, independent researcher and author of many computer science related papers.

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