What is Virtual Reality

Apr 24, 2015 | 1 Votes by Aethyna 9 rate Your vote
With all the hype over "virtual reality", we decide that it is high time we explore what "virtual reality" or VR truly is and why people, in particular gamers, are so excited with it! WWGDB - What is Virtual Reality

To understand what “virtual reality” is, let’s take a closer look at what the term actually meant. The word ‘virtual’, an adjective means not physically existing and the word ‘reality’ is the state of things as they actually exist and what we experience as humans. So, although both words kind of contradict each other, but when combined, they meant something different – something that is the future of gaming!

The term “virtual reality” basically means “something or some experience that is near to the real thing”. This could mean anything that is just an emulation or simulation of the real thing and that simulation can be generated using computer, 3D graphics, internet and other special electronic equipment, such as goggles, helmet and sensors-laden gloves. A person wearing a head-mounted display unit or HMD, which can display 3D images of a scene, is said to be experiencing virtual reality.

By wearing the HMD, the person can explore and also interact with any other virtual persons or things located in the virtual environment that he/she is in. How real the virtual environment will be to the wearer will depend on the quality of the images in that environment. The better the quality, the deeper the immersion. This is also why high-quality games have this addictive immersion effect on its players.

Sony's Project Morpheus

Of course, this virtual world cannot be a silent world or it won’t be “virtual” enough. It should be filled with various sounds to cater for the aural sense. The addition of audio and video input into will greatly contribute to the overall VR experience. With the advancement of technology, virtual reality environments nowadays also include tactile perception. Touching something in a virtual world by using a special haptic device, such as a data glove, will send a feedback that recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the wearer of the special glove. This device will also enhance the person’s experience in the virtual world. Therefore, a good basic virtual reality environment should be as multi-sensory in nature as possible. It should be supplemented with sound, video, touch and images.

Something’s missing though – if you know about the humans’ 5 senses, the only other logical sense, besides taste, that should be covered in any virtual reality world is smell. This proves to be a difficult task for experts in this field, but they are not giving up on this notion as of yet as they wanted to be able to create a virtual environment that is truly multi-sensory.

As much funds and efforts has been put into the development of virtual reality for gaming, there are many fields in which this technology can be applied. The application of virtual reality can also include the field of architecture, sports, healthcare, arts, entertainment, engineering, education and military. For example, in the medical field, virtual reality can be used in the training of surgeons. Trainee surgeons who have gone through virtual surgical procedures may have the extra hands-on skills necessary to become very capable surgeons in the future!

If you haven’t heard, Google has come up with something a few years ago that truly sparked a new way of using virtual reality – Google Street View. Recently, Google has added a new location to its reservoir of locations to allow people who may never be able afford or have the endurance to climb Mount Everest to have a chance to view it as though they were there themselves as much as possible through the screen of a computer. However, with virtual reality gear strapped on and the compatibility for the Google Street View program to run on a virtual reality system is provided, Google Street View can be something so much more significant and revolutionary! This exciting possibility resulted in the term “virtual tourism” to be coined!

Virtuix Omni

Since games basically consist of virtual worlds, how awesome will it be to be able to live and breathe as your character yourself. This definitely brings the term “first-person” in gaming to a whole new level! Players will be free to roam a virtual world and not fettered by the game controller, keyboard or mouse. Role players will also be able to be even more immersed in their characters and for other common gamers, their gaming experience will, without doubt, double or triple in its immersion, that’s for sure! Due to the immense potential of virtual reality in gaming, companies are now racing against each other to produce virtual reality hardware and software they hope will let them breakthrough into this very lucrative new market! However, as of now it is still in its infancy stage. More research and development will probably be needed for virtual apps to reach its full potential.

There are so many companies banging heads together to try to make virtual reality a reality for gamers and other users alike! In fact, a team from South Carolina University is currently working on a much advanced system to create a fully immersive virtual reality experience, called “Project Holodeck” that will give users the impression of being in a complete virtual world. Fingers crossed that they succeed, right? In short though, what is certain is that virtual reality is here to stay and it will only get better and more advanced. One day, virtual reality will truly become an integral part of gaming and of our lives. The prospect of virtual reality is truly remarkable and exciting!

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