What is Virtual Reality? Examples and How Does it Work

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a technology used by people of all ages and profession.  From entertainment to research, it has made a strong impact on all minds.

So, it is very important to understand what is virtual reality and how it can change your life or I must say how will it make your life easy.

Below are the lists of topics which we will cover to understand and deep dive into the world of Virtual Reality.
  1. What is Virtual Reality and how does it work?
  2. How Virtual Reality is changing the World
  3. Real World Examples of Virtual Reality
  4. What can happen to you if you’re into Virtual World for long (Don’t Miss #3)

What is Virtual Reality and How Does it Work?

Before going deep into the concept we will understand what virtual means and what it has to do with reality.

Virtual means something which doesn’t have physical existence but is made to appear so by software.
VR is an artificial environment created with the help of software and it is presented in such a way that user accept it as a real environment.

The simplest example of virtual reality is 3-D image that can be explored on a personal computer. On system, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two of the five senses: sight and sound.

In technical terms we can define Virtual reality as:
The computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.
So now you know what VR is, but you must be curious to know the working behind this technology.

Put your seat belt on, I will take you through this.

Virtual reality simulation requires two main components: source of content and user device.

The 3-D view in VR depends on measurements like: 
  1. Image resolution
  2. Field of view
  3. Refresh rate
  4. Motion delay
  5.  Pixel persistence
  6. Audio/video synchronization
This is more difficult than it sounds, since other players involved in the whole process are our senses and brains that work together to give finely synchronized and mediated experience.

The only goal of VR systems is to convenience our brain that we are at some other place. Part of the brain that perceives motion, senses and vision, plays role in achieving VR.

Meet the key player of VR system - Head Mounted Display (HMD)

Virtual Reality Device
Head Mounted Display

When we talk about VR the very first thing that comes to our mind is Head Mounted Display (HMD), and this is true. It is the most significant part of any VR system.

Our eyes capture 2D images and our brain tricks them by processing it into 3D architecture with the principle of stereoscopic vision to simulate the perception of depth and 3D structures.

To achieve this, VR system throws two different image towards us with one slightly offset from the other, to simulate parallax like the diagram below.

Stereoscopic Vision
Stereoscopic Vision

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Working of Virtual Reality Technology (Tough job for VR system)

Display: The VR system renders a stereoscopic image on the display of HMD and this has to be with a minimum frame rate of 60 frames per second, to avoid any perceived lag that might break the illusion.

Optics: Now we will see why we need lenses in HMD. So if we ever try to hold a stereoscopic image close to your eyes (typically at the distance HMDs keep the screen), you won't be able to make out what you are seeing, as you will get blur image. This is because your eyes won't be able to converge them on the same plane. This is why the HMD also includes a pair of lenses that augments our eyes to converge the images for proper vision.

Image displayed in Virtual Reality System

Virtual Reality
lenses converges and corrects distortions

Motion Tracking: After display the next important trick to make brain believe is motion tracking. It tracks movement of head and update the rendered scene without any lag. The VR system has to do this within 16.67ms to maintain 60 frames per second. This metric is known as Motion to Photon (MTP) latency.
Motion Tracking Virtual Reality
Motion Tracking

Computing platforms: last but not the least computing platform is the one which has to do all the heavy processing. VR system usually uses PC/Console or smartphones as computing platform.

How Virtual Reality is changing the World

Virtualization is changing the world like we have never thought before. Below we will see some areas where VR has the never lasting and ever growing impact.
  1. VR will increase the ease of conceptualization, it means you can now visualize 2D images into 3D architecture and this will be very helpful for buyers who are looking for home but can’t visit the place.
  2. If you're planning to tour a college campus such as Harvard University, you can now do that, walking amidst a fray of students, touring classrooms and halls, checking out dorms and even possibly experiencing a lecture or two. It can also be used as a virtual classroom for surgical students
  3. VR has a lot to offer for potential buyers. Imagine you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home and you are able to make financial decisions based on the sales pitch given by agent you sitting abroad.
  4. VR is strengthening our military as it offers training for sharpshooting, parachuting, diving, and many other situations.
  5. VR technology can be used to remotely manage unmanned spaceship on dangerous mission to Mars or any other planet. 

Real World Examples of Virtual Reality
  1. Google offers their VR headsets to schools for educational field trips and this is for free.
  2. Torbay Hospital uses Virtual Reality for medical purpose to improve doctor empathy.
  3. Nokia uses virtual reality to simulate public speaking.
  4. The largest bank of Australia allows applicants to explore their potential working environment through VR.
  5. Microsoft uses virtual reality to immerse players into the Minecraft metaverse.
  6. The US Military uses VR to train soldiers, which also helps minimizing training expenses and improves learning.
  7. Siemens and other companies from oil and gas, chemical, metallurgy and other high-risk industries also benefit from providing such employee training simulations which is benefits employee in longer run.
  8. NASA uses VR for preparing astronauts for upcoming missions and this prepares them mentally.
  9. The Virtual Reality Medical Center uses virtual reality therapy to treat phobias.
  10. CITEC took a step ahead and uses virtual reality to simulate a gym, complete with personal trainer.

What can happen to you if you’re into Virtual World for long

In 2018 we can expect an increase in use of VR gadgets and as we know advantages and disadvantages goes in hand.

There are some surprising side effects of Virtual Reality which one need to know before using VR gadgets.
  1. Eyestrain: VR gadgets can cause eye strain or an eye-focusing problem that arises because VR headsets create 3D images by showing your left and right eyes images that are slightly offset. Though this effect is temporary, its long last request is still worth monitoring for.
  2. Nausea or Virtual reality Sickness:  Nausea can be a major problem with VR Gadget users. Jack Nicas and Deepa Seetharaman from The Wall Street Journal say nausea, dizziness, and imbalance are known side effects of using a virtual reality headset. When users move their heads and the virtual images don’t keep up, that is the reported cause of Nausea.
  3.  Virtual Reality
    Injuries in Real World due to VR Device
  4. Injuries in Real World: Real-world injuries may be less a side effect and more a hazard associated with virtual reality gadgets, so it is important to mention the same. As per Scott Stein reports for CNET, virtual reality headsets block both vision and sound and make it difficult to stay aware of the people, objects, and architecture around you.
  5. Psychological Impact: As VR plays with your brain so there are chances of Psychological consequences such as feeling on unreality, lessens people’s sense of presence, light-headed and in a dream-like state.
  6. Game Transfer Phenomena: GTP is restricted to gaming community. Ortiz de Gortari explains the use of virtual reality will likely cause our brains to confuse virtual and physical events. Some of the consequences are, seeing objects turn into clusters of pixels, hearing sounds from games when you’re falling asleep.

So here we have seen a detailed analysis of what is virtual reality, its examples and how does it work on HMD. Let me know in the comment section, if you have any question or information to share with the readers.


What is Virtual Reality? Examples and How Does it Work What is Virtual Reality? Examples and How Does it Work Reviewed by Teach Anthem Admin on April 06, 2020 Rating: 5

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