Virtual Reality

Virtual reality(VR) is a common occurrence now. You may see far and wide lots of ads about VR headset. Everyone considers, that 2016 is the year of VR. It’s because VR is now possible even in your own home. Virtual reality is more accessible now than it has ever been. So what is it? Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. With the help of a computer, a person finds oneself in the simulated environment. Virtual reality simulates as many senses as possible, so simulated environment substitutes physical world for one. Such senses as hearing, vision, smell and touch.

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Brief history of virtual reality

Getting more in touch with virtual reality history, I want to say that virtual reality history began almost 200 years ago. Virtual reality idea appeared in 1839 and to this day is growing and developing. The first prototype of VR headset was stereoscope. VR headset introduction was in the 1960 year. This VR headset provided users stereoscopic 3D experience with wide vision and stereo sound. Just imagine! 57 years ago VR headsets existed. Then VR headset passes a long way in its development. From the very beginning, VR headsets were used with military applications. The first VR headsets were training equipment to simulate the vehicle. In 1968 Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull created the first VR headset connected to the computer.

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Virtual reality developing lasted and blossom. Some time later around 1991 virtual reality arcade machines appeared in amusement parks and shopping malls, but the idea of having one of these in your home was so far fetched. Soon in 1995 Virtual Boy, the first personal VR headset appeared on the market. Virtual Boy was the complete commercial failure because the world and technology weren’t ready for virtual reality.
But virtual reality revolution was just around the corner and now 20 years later hardware became smaller, displays more vivid and implementation of such technology as virtual reality became currency.

How does virtual reality work?

Virtual reality experience begins from the putting on the VR headset, which is a head-mounted display (HMD). Head-mounted display isolates the physical world and immerses you into simulated environment. Head-mounted display fills the peripheral vision and creates the 3D world. The head-mounted display should demonstrate 360 degrees simulated environment view. Actually, 360 degrees display is not high priority thing because the head-mounted display of 100 or 110 degrees is enough to impress the viewer and fill peripheral vision, while 360 degrees display is expensive and needless. Immersion to the simulated environment is the main function of VR headset. When you put VR headset on, it feels that you’re on the spaceship, because you feel kind of free fall. This is due to isolation from the physical world. While the VR headset is on, you interact with the 3D world when you move your eyes, head or body. There are actually three main constituent parts, which help you to interact with the simulated environment:

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  • Head tracking. It means, that the 3D world shifts when you move your head. When you turn your head right, the picture turns right too.

  • Eye tracking. The same as head tracking. When you look up, the 3D world shifts up too.

  • Motion tracking. It works this way: when you go straight, for instance, the 3D world moves forward too.

So, now you understand that there are 2 main features of virtual reality. There are immersion and interaction.

What are pros and cons?

  • At first, I want to accent that virtual reality may be used in different fields, such as entertainment, military, education, health care, guide etc. This is the very first advantage. So, it’s not just video games. virtual reality may be useful.

  • Get detailed views of different places, such as a new apartment, you want to rent or foreign country you want to visit.

  • Also, everybody experiences exciting feelings during VR immersion. Also, such experience would be fascinating for disabled people, which can not walk.

  • The first disadvantage is high cost. Not all people can afford themselves VR system at home.

  • Some users addict to virtual reality.

In sum

Virtual reality has a very long history. The first prototype of VR headset was stereoscope, which evolved to the modern VR headsets. Virtual reality is the simulated environment. You should put on the VR headset and headphones, connected to the computer or any other device, and run an app to immerse into virtual reality. Enjoy this technical wonder, but be aware of dependence which virtual reality may cause.

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