Virtual Reality or VR used to be a concept that was only available in sci-fi movies. And although this type of technology seemed distant not so long ago, it is finally here. But what is Virtual Reality? Why do we need it? And how does it differ from augmented reality? Let’s find out.
The Definition of Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality or VR is an environment with computer-generated images that are made to imitate real life in the best possible way. The user of VR needs to have a realistic feeling of being completely immersed in that virtual surroundings.
Depending on the level of interaction that the user has with the virtual environment, we have 5 different types of VR. There is the Non-Immersive, Fully Immersive, Semi Immersive, Augmented Reality, and Collaborative VR.
Also, the VR experience depends greatly on the equipment that is used. In most cases, a VR experience includes a headset or helmet. Other pieces of equipment include gloves and motion detectors. In a non-immersive VR experience like a video game, all you need is a computer, laptop, or gaming console.
The entire concept of VR can seem futuristic, but when we look back in time we can see that there were some traces of the first attempts at virtual reality decades ago. In 1962, Morton Heilig invented Sensorama, a multi-sensory machine that provided the spectator with a fully immersive experience.
VR vs AR
Both VR and AR have been around for some time, but there are still some people who don’t know the difference between the two. While VR uses completely computer-generated images to create a “new reality”, AR uses our own reality that we can “alter” with different virtual elements. So, for the VR experience, you will need a headset and other equipment, so you will be able to see the new environment and in some cases interact with it. And with AR, you can use the screen of your mobile phone or tablet, to see the world around you but enhanced with computer-generated elements. The best example of an AR is the game Pokemon Go, where the players used the screens on their smartphones to find Pokemon in the real world.
Why Do We Need VR?
There are many applications of VR in today’s world. To begin with, it can be used in education. Children can be taken on a virtual tour of a museum at any time. Also, other subjects like geography, history, and even foreign language can become more engaging and interesting with the use of VR. Moreover, architects can use VR technology to better plan their next project and at the same time have the perfect presentation for their investors.