Virtual reality or VR has been around for a long time. It was a much anticipated technology when it was first introduced to the consumer in the early 1990’s. Unfortunately it was just too expensive to gain a foothold in the market at that time. Now here we are over 20 years later and the excitement is starting to build again. The benefit of having better software and faster computer processing speeds is helping VR to reach its full potential this time around.
So what is Virtual Reality or VR? Virtual reality is a three dimensional computer-generated artificial environment. The most basic form of VR involves the use of a headset (head mounted display or HMD) that fully covers the eyes of the user and allows them to view the artificial environment. In addition to displaying the VR environment to the user, the headset also monitors eye and head movements and responds accordingly by displaying new imagery. Other hardware including headphones and speakers are often utilized to help the user feel like they are truly inside the computer-generated environment they are viewing.
It is also common for the user to engage additional devices such as handheld controllers and data gloves to explore and even manipulate the virtual world they are immersed in. Separate motion tracking cameras can be employed to capture the users body movements and haptic devices are an enhancement that allow the user to “touch” and feel the simulated objects they interact with.
To summarize, virtual reality replicates an environment that simulates physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds and lets the user interact in that world. VR artificially creates sensory experiences, which can include sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.