An Introduction to Virtual Reality

The term is nothing new. We all at some point have come across the name virtual reality. But what is it? A simple definition is the use of computers to experience a world that is not real but virtual, one in which we can immerse ourselves in.

Using software, you are able to experience a 3D world which you can step into and explore. Your mind automatically makes you feel as if you are there.

There are a few factors that need to come into play, seamlessly for the best virtual reality experience. The virtual world needs to be believable. This means it should feel natural and as close to reality as possible.

Second, the experience needs to be interactive.

What does this mean? Simply put as you move, the virtual reality should also change and move as well.

Virtual reality has to be computer generated. You might wonder why, but only the most powerful computers offer the best graphics to create a virtual world that is almost real.

The whole experience should be sizeable enough to allow you to explore different areas. You should also be able to completely immerse yourself in the virtual world. This is a combination of being both explorable and realistic.

While the term virtual reality is very often used in marketing campaigns for video games and 3D movies, these do not really capture the concept of virtual reality mainly because of the limited immersive experience.

Different forms of virtual reality

Some different types of virtual reality include:

1.    Fully immersible virtual reality

In order to completely immerse ourselves in virtual reality, we need a simulation, a virtual world that is highly detailed. We also require a very powerful computer that changes the virtual world as our directions change, and lastly, we also require the correct hardware to allow us to enter into this world.

Often the hardware includes a HMD or head-mounted display unit as well as a couple of sensory gloves.

2.    Non-immersible virtual reality

This could be a good definition for that flight simulator game you have back at home. This is especially the case if it comes with surround sound and a good-sized screen. While it is still a type of virtual reality, you will not be fully immersed in the experience.

3.    Collaborative virtual reality

These are similar to the flight simulator that we mention above. Another excellent example is the Minecraft game. Granted you will not be fully immersed in the experience but it does offer a chance to share the experience with another person which makes it collaborative.

Some advantages of virtual reality

Virtual reality has been used by pilots training to fly and land airplanes.  It has also been used in the medical field by practicing neurosurgeons.

When they do finally step into the real world, they are equipped with the best experience to allow them to handle their respective professions. After all, wouldn’t it be better to be operated on by a surgeon who has practiced the scenario a hundred times compared to one who has only had the experience of watching a senior surgeon perform the task?

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