What is Virtual Reality?
What is reality? Is the reality we know the only reality? Or are there parallel universes with multiple realities? Is there a reality where Hitler is still living or where India was never colonized? We don’t have answers to these questions and all we have are theories. Amidst all these ponderings we have not been shy in using technology to make the only reality apart from ours that we conclusively know of, Virtual Reality.
Virtual Reality in its most simple sense refers to a computer stimulated environment where a person gets to interact with simulated elements. The simulation is so good that one ends up perceiving it to be the environment he/she is presently in. The technology commonly referred to as VR uses VR Headsets and Visors in combination with physical environment to generate and give the perception of reality along with other sounds and sensations.
These sensations simulate the user’s physical presence in the projected world making it seemingly feel like it’s the real world. The system uses transmissions of vibrations and other sensations to the user through a connected device called Haptic Systems. The concept of Virtual Reality has a very long history stretching back to many decades. Virtual Reality (VR) in the modern world of ours is a technology that is constantly talked about and discussed.
Features of Virtual Reality Systems
All Virtual Reality scenarios are simulated using computers. The computer simulation determines the environment that the person using the device will be present in and determines the various features of such environment. The illusion of reality is created with computer software concerned with the device.
A virtual reality system is highly interactive. It allows the user to interact with the various elements involved in the virtual world. This interactive aspect of virtual reality plays a very important role in the gaming and other industry which has undergone a revolution after the innovation of VR. VR is so interactive that a person can play tennis in the comfort of his living room as if he is playing Wimbledon.
Application of Human Senses
Virtual environment like the real world requires a real application of human senses. A person in a virtual environment is expected to and has to apply his sense as and when the virtual situation requires it to. Explaining it in the context of games for more clarity, while playing Tennis it is expected for the player to use his sight to determine the side to which the ball is being hit and to intercept and hit the ball back. As a result virtual reality requires the proper application of human senses.
Virtual Reality functions in 3- Dimension. The person using the device will perceive the world in high detail with 3-D functionality.
Capable of Manipulation
The Virtual Environment is capable of human manipulation through interaction with the various elements present in the virtual world. Interaction with different elements leads to different implications in the simulated world.
How Virtual Reality Works?
The working of Virtual Reality devices is not a simple process. This is particularly so because we have a even more stronger processor (our brain) which is very good at what it does, which is perceiving its surroundings and communicating what is reality. Hence the task of fooling a strong processor requires an integrated working of multiple elements to the device itself.
The major element to the system of any VR gadget is the HMD which is the Head Mounted Device. It is a hardware that creates life size 3D virtual environments without the boundary restrictions that TVs and Computers have. A HDMI cable is used to send the video from the concerned processing device to the HDM. The HDMs uses lenses to give 2D images its 3D effect and as a result are called Goggles.
These lenses are placed between the pixels and the eyes. A usual frame rate of above 60 fps is used to prevent discomfort to the user. There are now devices they go well beyond this minimum benchmark. The device is capable of tracking your head movements and according to such tracking it displays images accordingly.
6DoF which stands for Six Degrees of Freedom which is integrated into the Headset ensures that the movement of the head is plotted according to X,Y and Z axis and the movements in common terminology are either Pitch, Yaw and Roll. Many other aspects apart from these basic elements may be added to increase the level of immersion.
Motion Tracking becomes the next important element of VR systems. Motion tracking is done across different companies and products in different manners. While some companies use controllers to let you determine movement, others use technical laser guided positional tracking systems that comprehend movement. There is also a company that uses a omni directional treadmill to account for the movement.
Eye Tracking is the last element involved in some VR systems. Eye Tracking as a component of VR systems increases the level of detail and immersion by making sure that the environment adapts to eye movement and focus on different aspect similar to the real world. In VR when eye tracking is not applied the details and objects are always sharp and focused which is not the case in the real world where once you look at objects closer to you the background blurs and so on. This leads to a situation where our brain starts understanding something is fishy causing simulation sickness.
Applications of Virtual Reality
The application of Virtual Reality are many. The fact that it can simulate life like environment and scenarios allows for the simulation of multiple scenarios in which a person’s adaptability and application of mind can be tested. The following are the major applications of VR :
Military application of VR is astounding. It allows for a military establishment to simulate multiple scenarios including aerial, land and naval combat, the system to provide medical aid, training etc. Such VR application exposes a soldier to the risks and strategies associated with a real combat experience without exposing him to life threatening situations. Such exposure allows for a soldier to behave appropriately when the situation similar to that materialises in the real world.
Gaming is a field that has been extensively improved with the advent of VR. The application of VR in this field provides a gamer with a all round immersive experience of the game and its environment. It gives the gamer a sense of being the character or player to such a extent that the other gaming modes are incapable of doing.
It would be in fact a splendid experience if a student were to roam around with Dinosaurs in the wild when studying about them. Virtual Reality makes it a reality to allow a person to roam around the subject matter of their study and observe what their subject matter and how it adapts and behaves. Such a system of education would facilitate a higher level of learning and better comprehension of topics making students better learners.
The field of business has also been considerably affected by VR. VR allows for businesses to train their employees in different work conditions including crisis situations and other emergencies. This allows for employees to be prepared for the different situations that may arise.
A very complex surgical procedure and a doctor who has never performed it and only knows the theoretical aspect of it. A patient would be inherently discouraged to consent. But VR helps resolve this problem as well to a certain extent. A doctor like other healthcare professionals doing different complicated procedure will be able to practice and perform complex procedures without exposing the patients to undue risks due to their lack of experience or practice.
Virtual Reality similarly has multiple applications and this innovation has played a key role in transforming multiple industries such as Entertainment, Sports, Media where it has been effectively applied. Virtual Reality thus constitutes a landmark in human technological development.