An Era Of Virtual Reality
“We’re changing the world with technology” - Bill Gates
But the fact is that the limits are pushed beyond and a completely new virtual world is created using this technology!!
Remember that moment when you saw an image or a video of the solar system for the very first time. Many of us naturally tend to develop a fantasy of experiencing space in one way or the other. However, with the advent of virtual reality, this no longer remains an impossible thing.
In recent days, the term Virtual Reality (VR) is commonly used everywhere. Using VR technology we can emerge into a different digital virtual world. Let's dive into the blog to understand what exactly VR is all about and how it is applied to various domains.
INTRODUCTION TO VR
With the definitions of “virtual” meaning near and “reality” as what we experience as humans, Virtual Reality can be considered as feeling the imaginary (virtual) world rather than the real one.
Virtual reality is basically the use of computer technology to create any simulated environment with scenes and objects of our choice. We become a part of it and can feel the experience without actually being located in the real environment. In the 1990s, VR technology was introduced mainly for gaming and arcades. However with the advancements in technology, in the current day, we have high definition 3D content and can simulate experiences very close to real environments.
The basic idea of Virtual Reality must be clear by now. This is exactly what we use to experience the solar system. Computer-generated 3D environments of the solar system including various objects resembling the planets, stars, sun, and a lot more can be made. Some other aspects like sound can be provided allowing us to experience the simulated environment which is very close to the real one.
TYPES OF VR
Based on the experience that users get, systems can be developed into 3 groups :
Fully-Immersive VR - This is where we see the simulated world and perceive it as if we were physically present in it. The above discussion related to the experiencing of the solar system is of this type where we are entirely surrounded by the virtual environment as if we were present there in real life. To experience and interact with fully immersive virtual reality, we need the proper VR glasses or a head mount display (HMD).
Non-Immersive VR - Here the simulated environment is presented on a screen like a monitor instead of us being surrounded by it. This technology allows the user to stay aware of and keep control of their physical environment. A video game is a great example of a non-immersive VR experience. These systems rely on a computer or video game console, display, and input devices like keyboards, mice, and controllers.
Semi-Immersive VR - A partially virtual environment is provided to us in this case. It will still give us the perception of being in a different reality when they focus on the digital image, but also allows users to remain connected to their physical surroundings. This category of VR is used often for educational or training purposes and relies on high-resolution displays, powerful computers, projectors, or hard simulators that partially replicate the design and functionality of functional real-world mechanisms.
We require VR tools for the development of the systems we discussed earlier. Few tools which are available for VR developers to create native application experiences include Unity 3D, Unreal Engine (UE4), Amazon Sumerian, 3ds Max & Maya, SketchUp, Blender, and Oculus Medium.
For experiencing the VR rendering we need to use specific equipment based on the type of the system.
- A head-mounted display (HMD) creates a full immersion in the virtual world. Advanced VR systems, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift can be used with a high-computational computer. Other devices, such as Google Cardboard, may be used with just your smartphone device and downloadable apps.
- The controllers may be used to "touch" and manipulate virtual objects. An example includes Oculus Touch which is the motion control system used by Oculus VR.
- Sensing gloves can be used to capture physical data such as bending of fingers for applications involving hand movements.
APPLICATION OF VR
The initial discussion of experiencing the solar system is an application of Virtual Reality. It can be used for the teaching purpose where topics can be made extremely clear when students actually experience the concepts. Similarly, the simulation through virtual reality currently includes many major domains.
Gaming - This is the field in which VR is majorly used from its origin. Many games have been developed using VR technology to provide a real gaming experience.
Healthcare - This domain finds VR its use in various aspects like surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery, and general skills training.
Architecture and design - Virtual reality gives a better understanding of designs like building plans, car architecture, and many more. It also helps in incorporating changes to design wherever necessary.
Education and training - Virtual environments can be used for training simulators in domains such as flight simulation, and simulations of other processes in different fields.
Business - VR can be used for organizing virtual tours of business environments and also to have a 360 view of the products. It can be used to train new employees as well.
Therefore by simulating the real environments, a computer is transformed into a gatekeeper to a new world with the only limits to a VR experience being the availability of content and computing power. However, with continuous advancements in technology, it might be possible someday in the future to achieve extremely natural simulations in every possible domain around mankind!!Written by Krishna Poojitha Vantakula
on May 19th, 2021