WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY?
Virtual Reality is the computer generated three dimensional simulations of reality that is convincing to the user. Virtual reality companies and developers achieve this by stimulating one or more of the user’s senses. Users can then interact with the digital environment in the same way they would the real world.
Creating a realistic virtual environment requires an immersive experience. VR equipment must convince the user to naturally interact with the virtual space. This is, in practice, extremely difficult since the brain has evolved to interpret our senses with perfect accuracy. Even a minor alteration from reality disrupts the immersiveness of the VR production. This also means the virtual environment should eliminate real world stimuli as much as it should mimic it.
How it all started?
Computer scientist Ivan Sutherland created the first actual VR head-mounted display (HMD) in 1968. Sutherland was one of the most significant figures in the history of computer graphics. He was the one who developed the revolutionary “Sketchpad” software that swathe the way for tools like Computer-Aided Design (CAD).
Virtual Reality initialized its development in 1800’s and began to speed its progress in around 1900’s with the invention of stereoscope and view-master. Virtual Reality came into existence in its full form at around 1980’s when the famous Jaron Lanier, founder of VPL Research developed all the sources of Virtual Reality like the VR gears and gloves. Ivan Sutherland proposed a head mounted device-“The Ultimate Display” that provided a glimpse in the world of Virtual Reality. The Virtual Interface Environment Workstation (VIEW) system first developed the gloves along with the head gear to enable a more personal experience and human-computer interaction in the outside world through the virtual world. This was projected in the 1980’2 at NASA Ames Research Center. Today the main aim of the scientists and technological masters is to create high quality VR devices that could be available at low costs and easily accessible.
Tools for VR: Consumption and Production
To create VR videos that are realistic and immersive requires specialized tools which are designed to stimulate certain senses. VR production requires tools including headsets, headphones, and haptic systems. These tools stimulate our visual, auditory, and tactile senses, respectively.
In addition to rendering realistic experiences, VR equipment must respond to the user. Headsets, for example, may track the user’s head and eye positions in order to allow them to “look around” a 360 degree space. Audio systems track the user within the virtual space and alters playback in accordance to the user’s position. These tools imitate reality and invite the user to interact with the virtual environment. As VR companies improve production and technology develops, VR tools will become more immersive and realistic.
To produce VR content and create 360 degree video also require specialized equipment. VR developers use sophisticated software to help create convincing digital environments. For recorded VR experiences, such as 360 degree VR video, special cameras and microphones are constantly being invented to enhance the virtual experience. For example, GoPro’s Omni captures 360 degree video using up to 6 cameras, while Jaunt VR will soon release a VR recording system with 24 cameras. Specialized surround sound microphones allow for more versatile audio for 360 degree recordings. As this technology develops, VR video production costs will decrease as accessibility and quality increases.
Applications for VR
VR has numerous applications. In addition to entertainment, it is currently being used in myriad of disciplines, including medicine, design, and education. Using VR allows for the alleviation of real world risks. The Department of Defense uses VR tech to train fighter pilots. In medicine, surgeons can learn and practice new techniques as well as remotely perform surgery, reducing the chance of human error. In art, artists such as Bjork push the boundaries in fine art by holding exhibitions completely in VR. And of course, entertainment, from video games and cinema to news coverage, VR video makers now produce in 360 degree video. VR production companies recognize the need for diverse VR experiences. Virtual reality companies such as Hello World produce content for many customers. Examples include Recording Orchestras at Carnegie Hall and producing a 360 degree horror video.
How is VR different from AR?
Augmented reality (AR) enhances the experience with the help of some digital elements to a live view often by using the camera or a smart phone while Virtual reality (VR) combines a whole captivating experience that shuts out the physical world.
The amalgamation of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is Mixed Reality (MR). The interaction of these two worlds creates a whole new world that propagates and reflects certain elements of both the worlds. For example, there is the union of AR and VR in the field of medicine where operations are performed in reality with the introduction of certain virtual elements as well making it a Mixed Reality experience.
Industries that could benefit from Virtual Reality
(1) Engineering and Design
This industry being the most dominant in the creative as well as the business field provides a great platform for the VR to exist in the long run. The VR devices could project the new and latest designs for residential and commercial purposes, materials to be used in the project and the architectural advancements and the updated plans that could be showcased in front of the potential clients providing them with every minute detail and an extraordinary picture of their dream project.
Similar to the Engineering and design but a one step ahead in its features, the real estate agents could efficiently make use of the VR products in construction, property maintenance and surveillance of the entirety. The creations could be experienced even before they are built by the manufacturers, builders and engineers.
(3) Army and Police Services
The nations can greatly benefit with the help of VR to provide vigorous training to the young men and women who be interested in joining the police or army forces. VR could make it possible to offer combat training, sky diving or undergoing serious physical or mental pressure; something that no real institute could offer. The physical strength, perseverance, mental potency and handling circumstances could be well judged and analyzed with the help of the Virtual Reality gadgets. For example, the British army had put the use of VR as one of its tools in recruiting the military and armed forces that could expose the young blood with a direct real-like experience.
(4) Corporate World
Future offices can create a new cool workstation where the office employees could travel across different locations and different time periods sitting just at their boring office desks. The meetings and the conferences could be held irrespective of geographical boundaries and appointment scheduling limitations, anywhere in different virtual environments with a more private occurrence. Job can be fun too with VR when you can get the work experience anywhere, be it the mountains, beaches or even space.
(5) Travel & Tourism
Tourism is one of those industries that do not get affected due to inflation, recession or fluctuations in the rates and revenue in general. People have always and would always find travelling one of the most favorite hobbies of killing leisure time or spending their discretionary income. Travel industry has never gone out of fashion; in fact the industry has been noted to have advanced significantly in terms of its multiplicity and reliability. Tourists are always on the look of something unique and creative that could enhance their total experience and make them aware of things they do not have known otherwise. VR could definitely encourage virtual tours like adventure sports, helicopter rides, exploring nature and the sea world and getting a good knowledge of the very famous historical places and monuments. This industry surely has a lot to offer in the virtual world to the tourists across the globe.
Virtual Reality can create a revolution in the E-Commerce sector. It can provide a real and live shopping experience to the customers who struggle hard to go and shop on their own. How is it different from online shopping? Well online shopping limits to only displaying the items on your phone or laptop where you can also place an order, VR can help setup an in-store experience where the customer could feel as if he or she is shopping right in the store or the mall. VR could bridge the gaps between the buyer and the seller where the sale is almost direct and the impact greater, enabling the producers or the sellers to come in direct contact with the buyers delivering catalogues and providing with an enriching individual store experience. VR is indeed the next greatest implicit shopping mall in the coming years.
Virtual Reality & its Misuse
It is rightly said that excess use of something is always dangerous, be it mobiles, computers or in this case even VR. Virtual Reality is surely here to stay to bring a revolutionary change in the tech sector. But too much reliance on the VR could also be hampering, not just to the person’s health but also to his capabilities in doing other things and the result driven forces.
(1) Ineffective interpersonal relationship
VR does help in effective virtual education and also overcoming the language barriers, but people who get too dependent on Virtual Reality on every small little thing may find it hard to communicate with real people and establish relationships with them. Virtual Reality certainly spoils you when you are too indulgent in it. It takes you to a completely different world of beliefs and imaginations which might not exist in the real world. By providing an interesting and entertaining experience, people often forget that they also need some interpersonal communication to enhance their social skills. The users of VR should always remember that it’s just a gadget to improve one’s lifestyle and not something to replace human relations.
(2) Socially unacceptable behavior
Societal norms and laws push people to bide to them and not engage themselves in immoral and unlawful practices. Communal pressure and a sense of fear from people sometimes is necessary to always alert us not to fall for wrong things that could be harmful to us as well as to the society. But the virtual world does not work that way. People could develop addiction and this addiction could be to such a great extent that things that are not acceptable in the real world might begin to feel right all of a sudden. Many individuals could misuse the freedom that VR provides them and they could take charge of a lot of wrong and misleading things that they would in real life might not even think about. For example, doing mass murders, taking drugs or robbing a bank. This could be in the form of a game but could be really hampering for a child’s future eventually creating mental imbalance.
(3) Cognitive Overload
Too much information and too many tasks to perform could result into confusion and disorientation resulting in failure to process the information. Language processing units are affected due to the complexity of the physical stimuli and the person could get lost in the overpowering images and delusional entities. Mind is a wandering soul and too much propagation of ideas could hamper a person’s mindset and his social and cognitive skills.
In conclusion, VR digitally replicate reality by stimulating the user’s senses and allows them to interact with the virtual environment as they would in the real world. Specialized equipment is used in both to create VR video, and these technologies are constantly being improved upon. Finally, VR has many real world applications beyond entertainment. Looking into the future, virtual reality content creation will continue to improve as technology becomes ever more responsive to how the user interacts with the digital environment. Virtual Reality one of the greatest boons in Science and Technology is here to improve the quality of life, educational value and creating interest among the users through its impressive apparition and an eye for distinguishing unique content and progressive visualization.
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