Everything You Wanted to Know About VR
Updated: June 07,2022
Virtual reality has been the topic of science fiction works for several decades. With recent advances in technology, VR is more realistic than ever before, not to mention more affordable. Advancement has led to a resurgence in interest in VR, with many people wondering how it works and what its potential applications are.
This article will answer some of the most common questions about VR. We’ll also look at some of the different headsets available today.
What Is VR?
Virtual reality is a computer-generated virtual environment that allows you to experience something in a completely immersive way. Most VR experiences are created using special headsets that provide stereoscopic visuals and spatial audio, making it feel like you’re genuinely inside the digital world. To interact with those worlds, you use specialized controllers equipped with motion sensors and haptic feedback, so your actions are not only replicated in the virtual world, but you can “feel” that world, too.
While VR has been around in some form for decades, it’s only recently that the technology has become good enough to create truly believable environments. As a result, VR is now being used for everything from video games and movies to education and training. With new haptic feedback and eye-tracking developments, the possibilities are only increasing. So if you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about VR, now you know: it’s simply the most realistic way to experience a computer-generated environment.
Terminology and Basics of VR
When it comes to virtual reality technology, there are a lot of terms and concepts that can be confusing. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the basic VR jargon:
Virtual reality (VR): This umbrella term refers to all forms of immersive, computer-generated experiences. The “virtual reality” is more often abbreviated as just VR.
Head-mounted display (HMD): This is the device that you wear on your head to view virtual reality content. It typically includes a display, lenses, and sensors for tracking head movement.
Hand tracking: This refers to tracking hand and finger movement in VR. A user can do this with special gloves or controllers, and it’s how VR works out what the player is doing in the virtual space.
Positional tracking: This technology tracks your physical location in 3D space and translates it into the virtual world.
Render: This term refers to creating the images that VR will display.
Degrees of freedom (DoF): This refers to the number of ways you can move in VR. For example, 3DoF means that you can move your head and hands in VR, but not your body. 6DoF means that you can move freely in all directions.
Field of view (FOV): This is the size of the virtual world that you can see while wearing an HMD. It’s typically measured in degrees. The higher this number is, the better.
Frames per second (FPS): This measures how smoothly VR content is rendered. A higher FPS means that the content will appear smoother and more realistic. Typically, screens in VR headsets run at a 90 or 120 Hz refresh rate, so it’s ideal if the games match this number in frames per second.
Interpupillary distance (IPD): This is the distance between your eyes. It’s used to calibrate the headsets so that the lenses provide a clear image for each eye.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to VR than just strapping on a headset and checking out a digital world. But once you understand the basics, VR can be a hugely immersive and exciting experience. Let’s see, then, how it all works.
How Does VR Work?
Now that we’ve answered the question of “what is VR,” let’s talk about the inner workings of VR systems. VR kits work by displaying two separate images, one for each eye. The brain then combines these images to create the illusion of depth and 3D space. It gives you the feeling that you are actually inside the virtual world.
What Can You Do in VR?
The possibilities for VR are virtually (no pun intended) endless. Some of the most popular virtual reality applications include gaming, education, training, and entertainment.
VR can create realistic simulations for training purposes. Some examples of VR usage can be remote surgeries, training soldiers for combat, or helping first responders in emergencies. It can also teach people to operate heavy machinery or drive a car.
VR is also being used more and more for entertainment purposes. There are now many VR-compatible video games available and virtual reality experiences that allow you to explore exotic locations or go on thrilling roller coaster rides. There are also many VR movies and TV shows being produced.
Where to Start With VR
If you’re interested in exploring VR, there are a few things you’ll need to get started. First, you’ll need a virtual reality headset. There are a few different virtual reality devices available, so you’ll need to decide which one is right for you.
If you want the most immersive experience possible, you’ll want to get a tethered headset. Today, the two most popular tethered headsets are the HTC Vive and the Valve Index. Both virtual reality systems are equally capable, so it really comes down to personal preference, but you’ll need a powerful graphics card to take full advantage of a tethered device. For consoles, the only choice is PlayStation VR, which is compatible with PlayStation 4 and 5.
If you’re looking for a less expensive option, you may want to consider a wireless headset. These virtual reality headsets run on a mobile chipset. They produce lower fidelity images but are highly portable, often allowing augmented reality features and generating the mixed reality combination of virtual objects in real space. The most popular mobile headset is Oculus Quest 2. Some headsets connect to your smartphone, but these do not create convincing virtual environments nor support any of the most popular games.
Once you have a VR system, you’ll need to download some apps or games to get started. Using a tethered headset, you can find VR apps on Steam or other gaming platforms. If you have a mobile VR headset, the App Store, Google Play Store, or the manufacturer’s store should be able to offer suitable VR apps.
Finally, you’ll need a way to control your VR environment. Most VR headsets come with a controller, but you can also use your smartphone or a computer keyboard and mouse. You can use specialized PC controllers like steering wheels and joysticks if you’re playing on a PC.
With all of that said, VR can be a bit daunting at first. But once you understand the basics, it’s easy to get started and have fun.
The Future of Virtual Reality
The future of VR is looking very bright. With the release of new and improved computer technology and the development of new applications for VR and more immersive virtual worlds, we’ll likely see even more widespread adoption of VR technology in the years to come.
It’s worth noting that VR is not just for entertainment and gaming, with many businesses using VR for training and employee development purposes. As the technology becomes more realistic and less expensive, we’re likely to see more companies adopting VR for various applications.
So there you have it! Everything you wanted to know about virtual reality. Are you ready to jump into the world of VR?
Frequently Asked Questions
VR stands for virtual reality.
The main purpose of VR is to provide an immersive experience applicable to entertainment, gaming, training, or other purposes.
As explained in our guide to VR, the three types of VR are tethered, wireless, and mobile. These denote what kind of VR kit you use - either connected to a computer/console, a fully standalone one, or the one that uses the processing power of a small smartphone to generate a VR world.
To use VR, you’ll need a headset and a controller. You may also need a computer or console if you’re using a tethered headset.
The price of VR highly varies. It can cost anywhere from $99 to $999, depending on features and how these VR devices generate the image.
VR is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly natural or physical way by a person using specialized equipment - a headset and a set of controllers.
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With a degree in humanities and a knack for the history of tech, Jovan was always interested in how technology shapes both us as human beings and our social landscapes. When he isn't binging on news and trying to predict the latest tech fads, you may find him trapped within the covers of a generic 80s cyberpunk thriller.