What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Find out more about how VR simulates a real world within a virtual space.

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The virtual reality (VR) is the name coined for any system that aims to allow a user to feel as if he were living a particular experience through the use of special devices that change the perception.

In other words, virtual reality is an illusion of reality, which exists within a software-based virtual world.

When connected to a VR system, the user may be able to move his head in a 360 ° movement to see everything around. Some VR environments use portable tools and special plans that can make the user feel as if he could walk and interact with virtual objects.

There are different types of VR systems; some use your existing smartphone or computer but others need to connect to a game console to work. A user can wear a head-mounted display that connects directly to the device so he can watch movies, play video games, explore fantasy worlds or real-life locations, play high-risk sports, learn to fly an airplane or perform an operation surgical, and more.

The augmented reality (AR) is a form of virtual reality with one big difference: instead of virtualizing the whole experience as virtual reality, virtual elements are superimposed on the real ones so that the user can see them both at the same time, united in one experience.

How virtual reality works

The goal of virtual reality is to simulate an experience and create what is called a "sense of presence". To do this, it is necessary to use instruments capable of imitating sight, sound, touch or any of the other senses.

The main hardware used to simulate a virtual environment is a display. This could be achieved through the use of strategically placed monitors or a normal TV, but generally, it is done through a display mounted on the head that covers both eyes so that all the vision is blocked except for all that is fed through the VR system.

The user may feel immersed in the game, in the film, etc. Because all other distractions in the physical room are blocked. When the user looks up, he can see everything that is presented above them in the VR software, like the sky or the ground when he looks down.

Most VR headsets have built-in headphones that offer a surround sound similar to that experienced in the real world. For example, when a sound comes from the left in the virtual reality scene, the user can experience the same sound through the left side of the headphones.

Special objects or gloves could also be used to create tactile feedback linked to VR software so that when the user collects something in the world of virtual reality, he can experience that same feeling in the real world.

A similar tactile system can be seen in game controllers that vibrate when something happens on the screen. Similarly, a controller or VR object could shake or provide physical feedback to a virtual stimulus.

Very often reserved for video games, some VR systems could include a treadmill that simulates walking or running. When the user runs faster in the real world, his avatar can equal the same speed in the virtual world. When the user stops moving, the character in the game will also stop moving.

A full-fledged VR system could include all the tools mentioned above to create the most realistic scenario, but some include only one or two but therefore provide compatibility for devices made by other developers.

Smartphones, for example, already include a display, audio support and motion sensors, which is why they can be used to create portable VR instruments and augmented reality systems.

Virtual reality applications

Although virtual reality is often seen only as a way to build engaging gaming experiences or passively sit in a virtual cinema, in reality there are many other real-world applications.

TRAINING AND EDUCATION

The next best thing for practical learning is practical learning in VR. If an experience can be simulated fairly well, the user can apply real-world actions to real-world scenarios... but without any of the real-world risks.

Consider flying a plane. In fact, a completely inexperienced user would have no authority to fly hundreds of passengers at 600 km / h.

However, if it is possible to combine the minimum details necessary for such an enterprise and combine the controls in a VR system, the user can stop the aircraft as many times as necessary before becoming an expert.

The same applies to learning how to use a parachute, performing complex surgical procedures, driving a vehicle, overcoming anxieties, etc.

When it comes to education in particular, a student may not be able to do it in the classroom due to bad weather or simply distance, but with virtual reality set up in class, anyone can attend the lesson from the comfort of home.

What makes virtual reality different from just working at home is that the user can actually feel like he's in class with other students and listen to and watch the teacher instead of simply learning concepts from a textbook with all the others distractions at home.

MARKETING

Similar to how virtual reality can make you take risks in real life without its repercussions, it can also be used to "buy" things without wasting money. Retailers can offer their customers a way to get a virtual model of a real object before making the purchase.

An advantage to this can be seen when discovering a new vehicle. The customer may be able to sit in the front or rear of the vehicle to see how it "feels" before deciding whether to examine it further. A VR system can also be used to simulate driving the new car so that customers can make even faster decisions on their purchases.

The same idea can be experienced when buying furniture in an augmented reality configuration, in which the user can overlay the object directly in their living room to see exactly what that new sofa would look like if it existed in your room right now.

Real estate is another area where virtual reality can improve the experience of the potential buyer and save time and money from the owner's point of view. If customers can take a virtual representation of a house whenever they wish, it can make buying or renting much easier than booking a time for a detailed procedure.

ENGINEERING AND DESIGN

One of the most difficult things to do when building 3D models is to visualize how it looks in the real world. Like the marketing advantages of VR explained above, designers and engineers can look much better at their models when they can see them from every possible perspective.

Examining a prototype created by a virtual design is the next logical step before the implementation process. Virtual reality is part of the design process by providing engineers with a way to examine a model in a realistic scenario before having to spend money to produce the object in the real world.

When an architect or engineer designs a bridge, a skyscraper, a house, a vehicle, etc., Virtual reality allows them to turn the object upside down, zoom in to see any defects, examine the details of each minute in a 360 view ° and perhaps even apply real physical life to models to see how they respond to wind, water or other elements that normally interact with these structures.

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