Imaging wandering around space in an awesome-looking suit looking for the next alien hoard to destroy, when you accidentally bump into your dresser. This is Virtual Reality. In simple terms, Virtual Reality, or VR for short, is equipment, usually a headset and some hand-held remote, which transports the user into a computer simulated universe. The concept of virtual reality has been around for hundreds of years. Panoramic paintings were designed to give viewers a realistic sense of what a scene, a battle for example, was really like. In 1929, the first full-size flight simulator was introduced to the military. Basically, pilot trainees were placed in a capsule that mimicked the controls and atmosphere of an aircraft. This allowed many pilots to be trained without the danger of an airplane crash, yet still learn how to handle themselves and their aircraft in the air. However, most people today think of virtual reality as a form of entertainment. The multi-billion dollar entertainment industry has taken a risk with VR technology, however, these devices have gained immense popularity in our culture. Depth perception is better, objects feel extremely real, and peripheral vision is included. Peripheral vision, the in-distinct colors and rough shapes out of “the corner of your eye,” is an overlooked aspect of human sight, however if it were absent from our lives, we would notice, especially in the various movements of objects around us. So, VR software developers must include it in order to present a realistic game environment.
VR technology could also be used for surgical training. Medical students could use VR to practice real life skills without endangering their patient. More applications would include architecture, interior design, sports, and the arts. These are just the applications around today. Who knows what may come in the future?
VR is a simple idea, yet extremely complex to create. It relies on small TV-like screens to display the image, specially crafted senses to “wrap” the image around the user, and sensors to track human movement and translate it into the virtual world. The lenses of any VR platform are a key component of the system. They make the image on the monitor appear to be a real room, spaceship, or garden. Furthermore, the sensors take human movements of the head, arms, legs, or torso and convert those movements into mathematical formulas which in turn become realistic-looking movements inside the monitor.
Basically, VR is an incredibly complex system which, in some ways, represents the best technology of the twenty-first century. This is just the beginning of this technology, which will no doubt go higher and farther in the future.
Charara, Sophie. “Explained: How Does VR Actually Work?” wareable.com, 26 Dec. 2017,
www.wareable.com/vr/how-does-vr-work-explained. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
TheFreshUK. “History of Virtual Reality.” vrs.org.uk, 2017, www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/
history.html. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
Featured image from bdr.com
Image 1 from twinfinite.net