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What Is Virtual Reality and How Does It Work?

Surjeet Thakur - Google Adwords Expert Chandigarh India

Surjeet Thakur

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Virtual Reality  – the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

How VR will be used, and the changes that the technology will make to the day-to-day lives of regular people is still a matter of speculation.

Gamers are warming up their trigger fingers for a new level of immersive gaming, and the field of entertainment will be transformed by the changes. But use cases in other industries could be just as transformative.

Virtual Reality – First talk about what is Virtual Reality? Virtual reality is an artificail environment or scene that are created by using hardware devices and software of a computer.

This artificial scene or environment is presented in such a manner that it look and appears 3-D and we feel like a 3-D world.

To experience a vitual reality scene or environment, a user requires a head- mounted display (HMD) and special types of gloves which receives input from the computer. A HMD keeps a track on how eyes move and responds by sending a new input video.

Also a user require the data gloves which sensor the movement of hand and interface those movement by a computer. The most important element requied for virtual reality is the software to give a real experience which feels like a real world.

Note that a virtual environment reprsents a 3-D world thta it look either real or abstract.

It includes real system like buildings, lanscapes, spacecraft, trees, human anatomy, sculptures, crime scene, solar system and many more. these virtual environment are animated and can be reprents like a real world.

What Is Virtual Reality and How Does It Work?

Indeed, some amazing and inventive new ways to use VR technology are already appearing that could dramatically impact people in their daily lives.

History Of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has beginnings that preceded the time that the concept was coined and formalised. In this detailed history of virtual reality we look at how technology has evolved and how key pioneers have paved the path for virtual reality as we know it today.

Facebook works for VR

While Facebook’s recent $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality hardware company Oculus VR might seem like the future of communication technology, virtual reality is so much more than a better way to kill zombies and Skype into your little brother’s birthday party.

In fact, VR has been a technological do-gooder for years, managing to do everything from curing amputees’ phantom pains to getting young people to save more for retirement.

The definition of virtual reality comes, naturally, from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. This could, of course, mean anything but it usually refers to a specific type of reality emulation.

We know the world through our senses and perception systems. In school we all learned that we have five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. These are however only our most obvious sense organs. The truth is that humans have many more senses than this, such as a sense of balance for example. These other sensory inputs, plus some special processing of sensory information by our brains ensures that we have a rich flow of information from the environment to our minds.

Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as a virtual reality.

So, in summary, virtual reality entails presenting our senses with a computer generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion.

 

In technical terms…

Answering “what is virtual reality” in technical terms is straight-forward. Virtual reality is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.

How is virtual reality achieved?

Although we talk about a few historical early forms of virtual reality elsewhere on the site, today virtual reality is usually implemented using computer technology. There are a range of systems that are used for this purpose, such as headsets, omni-directional treadmills and special gloves. These are used to actually stimulate our senses together in order to create the illusion of reality.

This is more difficult than it sounds, since our senses and brains are evolved to provide us with a finely synchronized and mediated experience. If anything is even a little off we can usually tell. This is where you’ll hear terms such asimmersiveness  and realism enter the conversation. These issues that divide convincing or enjoyable virtual reality experiences from jarring or unpleasant ones are partly technical and partly conceptual. Virtual reality technology needs to take our physiology into account. For example, the human visual field does not look like a video frame. We have (more or less) 180 degrees of vision and although you are not always consciously aware of your peripheral vision, if it were gone you’d notice. Similarly when what your eyes and the vestibular system in your ears tell you are in conflict it can cause motion sickness. Which is what happens to some people on boats or when they read while in a car.

If an implementation of virtual reality manages to get the combination of hardware, software and sensory synchronicity just right it achieves something known as a sense of presence. Where the subject really feels like they are present in that environment.

Why have virtual reality?

This may seems like a lot of effort, and it is! What makes the development of virtual reality worthwhile? The potential entertainment value is clear. Immersive films and video games are good examples. The entertainment industry is after all a multi-billion dollar one and consumers are always keen on novelty. Virtual reality has many other, more serious, applications as well.

There are a wide variety of applications for virtual reality which include:

  • Architecture
  • Sport
  • Medicine
  • The Arts
  • Entertainment

Virtual reality can lead to new and exciting discoveries in these areas which impact upon our day to day lives.

Wherever it is too dangerous, expensive or impractical to do something in reality, virtual reality is the answer. From trainee fighter pilots to medical applications trainee surgeons, virtual reality allows us to take virtual risks in order to gain real world experience. As the cost of virtual reality goes down and it becomes more mainstream you can expect more serious uses, such as education or productivity applications, to come to the fore. Virtual reality and its cousin augmented reality could substantively change the way we interface with our digital technologies. Continuing the trend of humanising our technology.

Features of virtual reality systems

There are many different types of virtual reality systems but they all share the same characteristics such as the ability to allow the person to view three-dimensional images. These images appear life-sized to the person.

Plus they change as the person moves around their environment which corresponds with the change in their field of vision. The aim is for a seamless join between the person’s head and eye movements and the appropriate response, e.g. change in perception. This ensures that the virtual environment is both realistic and enjoyable.

A virtual environment should provide the appropriate responses – in real time- as the person explores their surroundings. The problems arise when there is a delay between the person’s actions and system response or latency which then disrupts their experience. The person becomes aware that they are in an artificial environment and adjusts their behaviour accordingly which results in a stilted, mechanical form of interaction.

Virtual Reality can be applied in many areas:

1) It can be used in medical studies to enable students to know the human body structure.

2) It can be used in scientific research laboratories so that scientist can easily research on a specific topic.

3) It can be used in entertaiment like in games and movies to make the gaming experience more real and to allow individual to experience adventures under extreme conditions.

4) It can be used in driving schools as it give a real look of roads and traffic.

5) It can be used in military training for the soldiers to get familiar with different areas in the battlefield.

These are the thing about virtual reality. Now i am going to talk about its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Virtual Reality:

1) Virtual reality creates a realistic world
2) It enables user to explore places.
3) Through Virtual Reality user can experiment with an artificial environment.
4) Virtual Reality make the education more easily and comfort.

Disadvantages of Virtual Reality

1) The quipments used in virtual reality are very expensive.
2) It consists of complex technology.
3) In virtual reality environment we cant move by our own like in the real world.

 

Virtual Reality Concepts

The concepts behind virtual reality are based upon theories about a long held human desire to escape the boundaries of the ‘real world’ by embracing cyberspace. Once there we can interact with this virtual environment in a more naturalistic manner which will generate new forms of human-machine interaction (HMI).

Beyond the keyboard and mouse

The aim is to move beyond standard forms of interaction such as the keyboard and mouse which most people work with on a daily basis. This is seen as an unnatural way of working which forces people to adapt to the demands of the technology rather than the other way around.

But a virtual environment does the opposite. It allows someone to fully immerse themselves in a highly visual world which they explore by means of their senses. This natural form of interaction within this world often results in new forms of communication and understanding.

Freedom within the 3D virtual environment

The experience of a virtual world mimics that of a real world scenario but often without many of its constraints. Virtual reality enables allows someone to do the following:

  • Walk around a three-dimensional building
  • Perform a virtual operation
  • Play a multi-user game
  • Take part in a theatre of war
  • Interact with an artwork, e.g. installation

Plus the fact that they can do this in a 3D environment means that they replicate an experience similar to that in the real world but without many of the dangers.

This is preferable to trying to simulate these experiences in a two-dimensional setting, e.g. a computer desktop.

Find out more about these and other applications in the how virtual reality is used article.

Problem solving with virtual reality

Virtual reality also acts as a problem solving device in that it enables us to explore various options as a means of finding an answer to a problem.

For example, an engineering company will use virtual reality to produce a prototype which is then tested and the results fed back to the design team. The advantage of this is that it enables the designers to make alterations to their design but at far less time and cost.

This is a preferred option to building a physical prototype which is expensive to build and make changes to: especially if it undergoes several alterations as part of the design process.

Developments In Virtual Reality

NASA, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation funded much of the research and development for virtual reality projects. $80,000 was contributed by the CIA for research purpose to Sutherland.

After that in 1984, Michael McGreevy, a computer scientist started to experiment with VR technology as a path to advance human-computer interface (HCI) designs. HCI still is a domination factor in VR research. It further led to the media picking up on the idea of VR within a couple of years.

Latest Developments in Virtual Reality

Virtual reality development has really slowed in recent years and recent progress is not exactly recent. This is more than likely due to public disappointment, further due to the high expectations created by media sensationalisation.

Thankfully, virtual reality lives on in popular culture as a heavy influence on many consumer products that are in use today. These range from games to revolutionary input devices.

Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds combine the power of 3D graphics and the internet, giving users the ability to create new versions of themselves literally within a virtual world.

Second Life, arguably the most popular of these games, has seen massive successes, which includes creating millionaires out of some of their long-time and most dedicated players. This is made possible by their own currency and exchange rates.

Virtual worlds have become so popular, laws have been extended to include property acquired on them.

Input Devices

In a similar thread of thought, modern input devices have been massively influenced by virtual reality and may become the corner stone of further virtual reality developments. Some of these include:

  • Microsoft’s Kinect – This device uses a camera to track a player’s movements, which are then reflected in-game.
  • Wii Controls – The Wii, mostly due to its controls, took the world by storm. Using a controller, which can be latched to the hand, movement becomes a form of input.
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