The new Lion King remake, employee training, and PTSD therapy…what do these have in common? VR!
Are you interested in knowing how virtual reality works? What can VR be used for? What are the differences between the many headsets currently available?
Keep reading to find the answers to these questions and more!
How does virtual reality work?
VR reproduces a ‘real’ environment using software, it does this by tricking the visual cortex and parts of the brain that perceive motion using stereoscopic displays (Head Mounted Displays or HMDs) and motion tracking. Images are made 3D by stereoscopic lenses, a 2D image in angled twice for each eye creating the illusion of depth. In some HMDs, barrel distortion mimics the spherical shape of the eye to create this illusion. Both are not available in all HMDs. VR can generate sound, images, and interact with other senses depending on the model and game to create an immersive experience.
There are three technical elements that make VR work:
- Tracking: measures body movements
- Rendering: inputs the proper sights, sounds, touch, other sensations into a 3D model
- Display: Replaces the physical senses with digital information
For an immersive experience a minimum frame of 60 fps is required but most top of the line equipment can produce 90-120 fps. It is important to block out all outside stimuli for greater effect. Lag time or latency should be < 50 milliseconds otherwise quality decreases and nausea can occur.
The type of headset dictates what hardware is required. Both tethered and mobile headsets require additional hardware to run VR software.
- Input Device: This is how your movements are tracked while using a VR headset.
- Head Tracking: Plots head movements into x,y,z axes (pitch, yaw, and roll)
- Motion Tracking: Uses infrared sensors or a controller to detect hand movements
- Eye-tracking: uses the movement of your eyes to track movements.
- Haptic Tracking: smartphones, controllers, and even gloves are used to track movements.
Types of HMDs
- Mobile Headsets: Uses your smartphone such as Google Daydream View or Google Cardboard.
- Stand-alone Headsets: everything is built in to the headset such as Oculus Go.
- Tethered Headsets: requires a PC such as Oculus Rift, Vive, or Playstation VR.
Who is VR for?
Everyone! How you want to use VR will dictate the optimal headset for your purposes.
Google Cardboard is best for beginners or those who are curious about VR but not looking to invest heavily.
Playstation VR and Vive are optimized for gaming and playing VR games.
Other uses are listed below.
What can VR be used for?
VR is mostly associated with playing video games but it has many uses in a wide variety of fields! Listed below are just a few uses for VR outside of gaming.
- VR Training in Sports
- PTSD Therapy
- Medical residents to experience surgery
- Design and prototyping in Engineering
- Virtual Exhibits at Museums
- VR rides at theme parks and other entertainment parks
- Heritage Sites
- Virtual Tours and walkthroughs of monuments, historical buildings, old towns & villages, archaeological digs
- Visualization/ Models/Simulations in Science disciplines
- Flight, battlefield, and vehicle simulations for the military
- Medic training
- Learning Bedside manner for doctors
- Solutions for dealing with phobias
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Training Employees
- Helping students learn by presenting complex data that would otherwise be inaccessible (like showing the solar system or night sky)
Where can I buy a headset?
These are the major headsets but there are many more available to purchase!
|Name||Type||Available to Purchase||Where to get Software|
|Google Daydream View||Mobile Headset||Google Store|
Apple App Store
|Samsung Gear VR||Mobile Headset||Best Buy|| Google Playstore |
Apple App Store
|Google Cardboard||Mobile Headset|| Google Store|
Apple App Store
|Oculus Go||Standalone|| Oculus.com|
|Lenovo Mirage||Standalone||Amazon||Google Playstore|
|Samsung HMD Odyssey+||Tethered|| B&H|
Virtual Reality for Beginners by Murray Ramirez
Learning Virtual Reality by Tony Parisi
Experience on Demand : What Virtual Reality is, How it Works, and What it Can Do / by Jeremy Bailenson
CNET- Best VR Sets for 2019
Virtual Reality Society- Applications of VR