Virtual reality (VR) is a fully immersive, computer-simulated environment that gives you the feeling of being in that environment instead of the one you’re actually in. It is a computer-generated technology that creates a three-dimensional simulated environment. VR operates on the premise that we are virtual creatures, so the model creates visual experiences through scenes, objects, and videos that mimic real life. VR’s most significant gadget is the head-mounted display (HMD). The headsets have lenses and controllers with sensors which explains why users get immersed in the experience.
The gaming industry is the most known consumer of VR technology. Many video games place the user in an interactive world, like a battlefield or in the driver’s seat of a car. So, while playing, you’re also living the experience. It’s important to note that in VR, your perception of reality isn’t altered−you’re simply a spectator overseeing the events happening in that world.
How Does Virtual Reality Work?
For your brain to perceive the virtual environment, the key factor that is vital for creating an immersive experience is controlling your eye and head movements. The eyes and brain function in tandem to perceive and interpret images. The VR is programmed to mimic these two organs by creating a stereoscopic display, accepting the illusion of multi-dimensional images.
Types of Virtual Reality
VR technology has come a long way in its attempt to create a fully immersive illusion. The VR systems vary depending on the technology used in their development and their intended purpose.
The three main categories are:
- Non-immersive. Here, you can only access the VR environment through a computer screen. The amount of control you have over the VR environment is limited to a keyboard, mouse, and other computer devices. In this setting, there is no direct interaction between the virtual environment and the user. A good example is a computer video game.
- Semi-immersive. This virtual experience is also accessed through a computer screen or a headset. The main focus is on the VR’s 3D aspect, not the user’s physical movements. It’s mainly used for learning, like in aviation, where flight simulators are used to train pilots.
- Fully immersive. It’s the highest level of VR, where you get completely engrossed in the simulated space. It involves sensory senses like sound, sight, and sometimes, touch. Further, you’ll have to wear special garments like helmets and gloves to enable you to fully be in the simulated environment.
At this advanced level, the physical environment can even involve real things like a bicycle and riding it with the headset on enables you to move through the 3D space. It’s still not fully developed, but the gaming and healthcare industries have embraced it so far.
The Evolution of Virtual Reality
The history of VR dates back to a time when the concept had not been formally coined. Its pioneering era, the 19th C, was more of an evolving technology than a clear-cut concept. Generally, it is safe to say that the evolution of computers through time is the precursor to VR tech.
The field didn’t find a home until the 1980s when the founder of Visual Programming Lab Research, Jason Lanier, used the term “virtual reality” for the first time. He also began developing goggles, gloves, and other gear currently used in VR. This isn’t to discredit the technologists who had developed simulated environments earlier.
A case in point is the Sensorama experience of 1956. Morton Heilig, through Hollywood, developed motion pictures. He wanted people not just to watch movies but to feel like they were “in” it. The Sensorama experience simulated the natural environment, where you could feel vibrations, see the road, and even hear engine sounds.
Other inventors also made significant contributions to VR tech, like Ivan Sutherland. In 1965, he invented a head-mounted device named “the Ultimate Display.” The device was a window into the virtual world.
Here is a breakdown of some of the historical progress that VR has conquered:
- 360° Panoramic Paintings
- Stereoscopic 2D photos
- Google-based VR simulations using holographic
- First head-mounted VR device
- The term Virtual Reality was coined
- 3D graphics on Nintendo games
- VR went mainstream through the movie The Matrix, which depicted characters in a simulated world.
- More advancements in 3D graphics
- Lightweight, more accessible, and practical VR, especially in the gaming industry
- Motion controllers, cameras with deep senses and resolution, and advanced human-computer connections
- VR chat rooms on Facebook
- VR applications for both commercials and non-commercials
- Lastly, wireless headsets
Why Is Virtual Reality Important in the Present Society?
1. Satisfying the Human Experience
VR helps create new social experiences. This enables people to rekindle personal connections with loved ones even when they’re miles apart.
For example, the Facebook chat room enables you to create and maintain connections even when you’re physically separated.
2. Refining Quality of Life
With VR, we have no excuse for not exploring the world. It gives us the freedom to explore and create new experiences even without being physically present. Even if you’re housebound, you still have the chance to live outside your house.
The Virtual Dream Project, for example, is a VR program that enables oncology patients to live outside their reality.
3. Bringing Together VR Experts
VR developers organize conferences like the VR Good Summit. Through these meetups, they can discuss technological advancements in all sectors and how VR can help make things easier.
It allows innovations to occur because that’s what happens when problem solvers and technologists meet.
If the VR world fascinates you, then it’s a field you need to explore. As much as it feels like so much has been done, technology keeps evolving. What has been covered through the centuries is barely a scratch. You can learn the skills to work in tech through an apprenticeship, involving pre-training and opportunity placement to kickstart your career in tech.
Apprentice Now is here to help connect you with an employer when you’re ready to begin the journey and new career. With many different opportunities to match with, you can start your journey to a career in tech today!