There remains a significant amount of confusion about the differences between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. (Check out our exhaustive primers on Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality for an in-depth look at the differences.) The public seems to think that AR is a phone experience, while only VR requires an HMD. Mixed Reality devices like the Microsoft Hololens use a headset to overlay 3D imagery on top of the real world. Very cool, but not Virtual Reality. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYoKN0FOSrHo1qf4ZqlM2CA
Google and Samsung still offer phone-based VR headsets in the form of the Daydream View and the Gear VR, and even Nintendo has gotten into the game with its Labo VR Kit for the Nintendo Switch. However, these shell-like headsets, which require a phone or some other device physically inserted into them, feel like novelties next to more powerful headsets that can provide more immersive experiences.
Morton Heilig wrote in the 1950s of an "Experience Theatre" that could encompass all the senses in an effective manner, thus drawing the viewer into the onscreen activity. He built a prototype of his vision dubbed the Sensorama in 1962, along with five short films to be displayed in it while engaging multiple senses (sight, sound, smell, and touch). Predating digital computing, the Sensorama was a mechanical device. Heilig also developed what he referred to as the "Telesphere Mask" (patented in 1960). The patent application described the device as "a telescopic television apparatus for individual use...The spectator is given a complete sensation of reality, i.e. moving three dimensional images which may be in colour, with 100% peripheral vision, binaural sound, scents and air breezes." https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Hot-Cold-Shoe-and-YS-Arm-Adapter-360-Degree-Turnable-For-Underwater-Photography-Housing-Arm-Light/32863005192.html
The Oculus Touch controllers have made a world of difference since their arrival. Compared to the other headsets' controllers, they're our favourite – they conform to your hand and allow for some finger recognition, like a thumbs-up. Not just that, but when it comes to games Oculus has come on leaps and bounds. That's been largely helped by some developer cash injections from Facebook, giving us quality, polished titles like Lone Echo and Robo Recall. Room-scale support has been added too, though you'll need to purchase at least one additional sensor to get it to Vive-level tracking, and even then the Vive tracking experience is a little better in our experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdNHr_lWIOo&t=1s
Augmented reality (AR) is a type of virtual reality technology that blends what the user sees in their real surroundings with digital content generated by computer software. The additional software-generated images with the virtual scene typically enhance how the real surroundings look in some way. AR systems layer virtual information over a camera live feed into a headset or smartglasses or through a mobile device giving the user the ability to view three-dimensional images. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiBC1oH6gWQ&t=1s
After doing this over and over, revision after revision, eventually I have a final draft to export. In the export window, it is important that I ensure the “VR” is still enabled. What this does is put that specification in the metadata file so that sites like YouTube and Vimeo know to play it as 360° VR footage. Then I can upload it and ensure the playback is the way I want it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkIg-SxPzTA&t=1s
Virtual reality is most commonly used in entertainment applications such as video gaming and 3D cinema. Consumer virtual reality headsets were first released by video game companies in the early-mid 1990s. Beginning in the 2010s, next-generation commercial tethered headsets were released by Oculus (Rift), HTC (Vive) and Sony (PlayStation VR), setting off a new wave of application development. 3D cinema has been used for sporting events, pornography, fine art, music videos and short films. Since 2015, roller coasters and theme parks have incorporated virtual reality to match visual effects with haptic feedback. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FyjEnoIgTM&t=1s
In 1991, Sega announced the Sega VR headset for arcade games and the Mega Drive console. It used LCD screens in the visor, stereo headphones, and inertial sensors that allowed the system to track and react to the movements of the user's head. In the same year, Virtuality launched and went on to become the first mass-produced, networked, multiplayer VR entertainment system that was released in many countries, including a dedicated VR arcade at Embarcadero Center. Costing up to $73,000 per multi-pod Virtuality system, they featured headsets and exoskeleton gloves that gave one of the first "immersive" VR experiences.
Tethered headsets like the Oculus Rift S, the HTC Vive, and the PlayStation VR are physically connected to PCs (or in the case of the PS VR, a PlayStation 4). The cable makes them a bit unwieldy, but putting all of the actual video processing in a box you don't need to directly strap to your face means your VR experience can be a lot more complex. The use of a dedicated display in the headset instead of your smartphone drastically improves image fidelity, and either external sensors or outward-facing cameras on the headset provide full 6DOF movement tracking. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Drifter-For-Insta360-ONE-X/32947447669.html
One of the cool things about VR and 360 video is that it can put you in an experience you wouldn't be able to get before. In the case of this video from MythBusters, that's a couple yards away from a postal van filled with explosives. Not only do you get to experience the explosion from the safety of your own home, the video guides you through the explosion frame by frame, millisecond by millisecond.
Vive's Tracker might not look like much, but stick it on something and that "thing" becomes a controller. Yes, HTC is redefining how we think of mixed reality with this accessory, and now anyone can buy one. Developers have been busily finding exciting and unique ways to use the Tracker in games, which will require mounts for certain props, like guns and baseball bats. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Insta360-ONE-X-360-Camera-panoramic-Camera-5-7K-Video-VR-360-For-iPhone-and-Android/32970842572.html
The PlayStation VR is compelling thanks to Sony backing development for it and the affordability and availability of the PlayStation 4 compared with gaming PCs. All you need is the headset, a PlayStation 4, and a PlayStation Camera (now included with most PlayStation VR bundles). There are some excellent games on PS VR like Moss, Rez Infinite, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, with Sony and other developers working on several more (including Five Nights at Freddy's VR). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ieIar09dRk&t=1s
The PlayStation VR is compelling thanks to Sony backing development for it and the affordability and availability of the PlayStation 4 compared with gaming PCs. All you need is the headset, a PlayStation 4, and a PlayStation Camera (now included with most PlayStation VR bundles). There are some excellent games on PS VR like Moss, Rez Infinite, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, with Sony and other developers working on several more (including Five Nights at Freddy's VR).
The more powerful Vive Pro offers a higher-resolution display, outward-facing cameras, and a handful of other enhanced features, but it isn't nearly as compelling as the regular Vive; it costs $300 more, and doesn't include the base stations and motion controllers needed to work, so you effectively need to already have a Vive or spend even more money to get set up with it. If that isn't enough power, the Vive Pro Eye adds built-in eye-tracking to the already advanced headset.
Oculus has both tethered and standalone headsets from the Go, to the Quest, to the Rift S. HTC has the Steam-friendly Vive and the developer-focused Vive Pro. Sony has the PS 4-focused PlayStation VR (that will apparently work with the PlayStation 5 if and when that system comes out), and Microsoft is supporting its Windows Mixed Reality platform with a variety of headsets from different manufacturers. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Gyros-360-Degree-Metal-Finger-Ring-Holder-for-IPhone-7-6-Samsung-Tablet-Hand-Spinner-Mobile/32816976160.html
This may seems like a lot of effort, and it is! What makes the development of virtual reality worthwhile? The potential entertainment value is clear. Immersive films and video games are good examples. The entertainment industry is after all a multi-billion dollar one and consumers are always keen on novelty. Virtual reality has many other, more serious, applications as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwJXDrBik4I&t=1s
In social sciences and psychology, virtual reality offers a cost-effective tool to study and replicate interactions in a controlled environment. It can be used as a form of therapeutic intervention. For instance, there is the case of the virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), a form of exposure therapy for treating anxiety disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_nGLw1ceV8&t=1s
According to CEO Stanislas Chesnais, the 3DRudder was designed for "existing games where two hands aren't enough [for] VR, where you don't actually have any solutions today to move in a nice way while sitting." A circular device that you control with both feet by tilting in the direction you want to move, the 3DRudder's latency-free design means that response to your movements is instant and requires little thought. "It's like in real life," says Chesnais. "When you do something [like] set the table… you don't think about your feet moving around. Your hands are what matter." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNOT_feL27Y&t=1s
In 2016, HTC shipped its first units of the HTC Vive SteamVR headset. This marked the first major commercial release of sensor-based tracking, allowing for free movement of users within a defined space. A patent filed by Sony in 2017 showed they were developing a similar location tracking technology to the Vive for PlayStation VR, with the potential for the development of a wireless headset. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/VR-360-HD-Security-Camera-wireless-WIFI-panoramic-Home-Security-Surveillance-System-960P-IP-Camera-Panorama/32859898895.html
Microsoft HoloLens is shaping up to be another formidable competitor in the HMD market. Unlike VR tech, Microsoft based their display on holographic technology. The original Hololens was more proof of concept than consumer device, and the recently announced Hololens 2 is again eschewing the public in favor of enterprise/government uses. The Hololens 2 will feature upgraded visuals, including a much-expanded field of view — music to fans of the original device, who settled on the limited FOV as the main drawback of the device. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpVm7bg6pXKo1Pr6k5kxG9A
No conversation about Mixed Reality HMDs is ever complete until someone brings up Apple. Yes, the company has no available or announced devices in this space — but there isn’t a soul following technology trends that doesn’t believe the Cupertino giant isn’t a) working on some kind of AR glasses, b) acquiring companies that make lenses and materials that are perfect for some kind of AR glasses, and c) talking about AR as a transformational technology every time a microphone appears. The rumor mill says Apple’s glasses could appear in 2019, but we have our money on a 2020 launch, alongside a newly redesigned and reimagined iPhone that moves away from the “iPhone X design” for the first time since it launched. Stay tuned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vluoggq_3WU&t=1s
^ Bukhari, Hatim; Andreatta, Pamela; Goldiez, Brian; Rabelo, Luis (2017-01-01). "A Framework for Determining the Return on Investment of Simulation-Based Training in Health Care". INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing. 54: 0046958016687176. doi:10.1177/0046958016687176. ISSN 0046-9580. PMC 5798742. PMID 28133988. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/360-SQUIRT-1-2-BGA-support-CORONA-4GB-for-xbox360-10pcs-lot/1695670160.html
Originally funded as a Kickstarter project in 2012, and engineered with the help of John Carmack (founder of Id Software, of Doom and Quake fame), Oculus became the early leader in Virtual Reality hardware for video games. Facebook bought Oculus in 2014, and brought the company’s high-end VR HMD to market for consumers. More recently, Oculus has seen success with the lower-price, lower-powered Oculus Go, and 2019 will see the release of multiple new iterations on the hardware, including the tethered Rift S and the stand-alone Oculus Quest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDBUkX6JQ-0&t=1s
Tethered headsets like the Oculus Rift S, the HTC Vive, and the PlayStation VR are physically connected to PCs (or in the case of the PS VR, a PlayStation 4). The cable makes them a bit unwieldy, but putting all of the actual video processing in a box you don't need to directly strap to your face means your VR experience can be a lot more complex. The use of a dedicated display in the headset instead of your smartphone drastically improves image fidelity, and either external sensors or outward-facing cameras on the headset provide full 6DOF movement tracking. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Lazy-Bracket-Universal-360-Degree-Rotation-Flexible-Phone-Selfie-Holder-Snake-like-Neck-Bed-Mount-Anti/32851857878.html
In 2016, HTC shipped its first units of the HTC Vive SteamVR headset. This marked the first major commercial release of sensor-based tracking, allowing for free movement of users within a defined space. A patent filed by Sony in 2017 showed they were developing a similar location tracking technology to the Vive for PlayStation VR, with the potential for the development of a wireless headset.
In 1992, Nicole Stenger created Angels, the first real-time interactive immersive movie where the interaction was facilitated with a dataglove and high-resolution goggles. That same year, Louis Rosenberg created the virtual fixtures system at the U.S. Air Force's Armstrong Labs using a full upper-body exoskeleton, enabling a physically realistic mixed reality in 3D. The system enabled the overlay of physically real 3D virtual objects registered with a user's direct view of the real world, producing the first true augmented reality experience enabling sight, sound, and touch.
Google and Samsung still offer phone-based VR headsets in the form of the Daydream View and the Gear VR, and even Nintendo has gotten into the game with its Labo VR Kit for the Nintendo Switch. However, these shell-like headsets, which require a phone or some other device physically inserted into them, feel like novelties next to more powerful headsets that can provide more immersive experiences. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAzHtLXxQsM&t=1s