Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. By simulating as many senses as possible, such as vision, hearing, touch, even smell, the computer is transformed into a gatekeeper to this artificial world. The only limits to near-real VR experiences are the availability of content and cheap computing power. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDkC1eebWbU&t=1s
Wherever it is too dangerous, expensive or impractical to do something in reality, virtual reality is the answer. From trainee fighter pilots to medical applications trainee surgeons, virtual reality allows us to take virtual risks in order to gain real world experience. As the cost of virtual reality goes down and it becomes more mainstream you can expect more serious uses, such as education or productivity applications, to come to the fore. Virtual reality and its cousin augmented reality could substantively change the way we interface with our digital technologies. Continuing the trend of humanising our technology. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVQi3UNfKF0&t=1s
From the different headsets we've tested, the hardware is sound and the setup is simple, but position tracking isn't as accurate as tethered headsets with external sensors or the Rift S' new outward-facing tracking cameras. Also, the Windows Mixed Reality store doesn't have as many compelling VR experiences as the Rift and SteamVR stores, though you can use SteamVR games on Windows Mixed Reality headsets, again with some software wrestling. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/AMK100S-360-Degree-Video-Camera-All-View-1440P-30FPS-HD-WiFi-Sport-Camera-Sweep-Panoramic-Camera/32689963090.html
The HTC Vive has been one of the best VR HMDs on the market since its consumer release back in 2016. Manufactured by HTC, the Vive was the first VR HMD to support SteamVR. The Vive has been locked in fierce competition with the Oculus Rift since release, as both headsets aimed at the same top end of the VR enthusiast market. The Vive has proven itself a durable workhorse for enterprise solutions, while also delivering one of the best consumer VR experiences available. The Vive was first released back in 2016, and has gone through several iterations, with the addition of a wireless module. The Vive Pro came out in 2018 and the Vive Pro Eye and the HTC Vive Cosmos are both slated for release in the second half of 2019. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Insta360-Air-360-Degree-Dual-3K-lens-VR-Video-Camera-Real-Time-Seamless-Stitching-for-Android/32816542852.html
The Vive Pro sports a 2,880 x 1,600 resolution on a dual-OLED display, up from the Vive's 2,160 x 1,200 resolution. There's also dual cameras on the front that'll help track your hands and a 90Hz refresh rate with 70 sensors, giving you 360-degree head-tracking. It's not a leap to say that the Vive Pro is a monster. This is easily the most advanced VR headset out there, but it's also incredibly expensive, sitting at £799. If you don't need that added clarity, the Vive has all the same tricks.
There are few worse feelings than putting on a VR headset and having someone else's sweat drip down your face. That's why, if you're likely to be sharing your headset with others, we'd recommend some sort of cover. The company VR Cover does exactly what it suggests, selling covers for the Rift, Vive, Gear VR and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. You can get a couple of machine-washable covers or, if you prefer, some cheaper disposable ones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4oKi1vNIEo&t=1s
Despite being one of the big three in high-end VR, the PS VR is a noticeable step down from the Rift and Vive. It's got a 120Hz refresh rate, which is higher than the others, but it's not as crisp with its 1920 x 1080 resolution, which means things are a little more blurry. Plus, its PS Move controllers feel very long in the tooth; they're repurposed motion controllers from the days when the Nintendo Wii was popular, and feel very outdated when compared to the Rift's Touch controllers. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/NEW-Amkov-VR-360-Handheld-4K-WiFi-360-Degrees-Panoramic-Camera-Dual-HD-Wide-Angle-Fisheye/32960301048.html
Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as a virtual reality. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/OSSC-HDMI-Converter-Kit-for-Retro-Game-Console-PlayStation-1-2-Xbox-one-360-Atari-Series/32969633292.html
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/Global-PROTRULY-V10S-Smartphone-360-Degree-26MP-3D-VR-Full-View-Android-7-1-Snapdrago
Windows Mixed Reality is aimed at creating a more affordable version of high-end VR, and many of the headsets are built to run in two modes: one for PCs with dedicated graphics cards and one for PCs with integrated graphics. Many of these headsets start around $300, but at the top of the pile is the Samsung Odyssey. It has built-in spatial headphones from AKG, two 1400 X 1600 AMOLED displays, and a 110-degree field of view. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nORNftIHSAo&t=1s
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.aliexpress.com/item/Customize-360-Lace-Frontal-Body-Wave-Brazilian-Virgin-Hair-Lace-Frontal-Natural-Hairline-Lace-Size-22/32683532855.html
In 2010, Palmer Luckey designed the first prototype of the Oculus Rift. This prototype, built on a shell of another virtual reality headset, was only capable of rotational tracking. However, it boasted a 90-degree field of vision that was previously unseen in the consumer market at the time. Distortion issues arising from the lens used to create the field of vision were corrected for by software written by John Carmack for a version of Doom 3. This initial design would later serve as a basis from which the later designs came. In 2012, the Rift is presented for the first time at the E3 gaming trade show by Carmack. In 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR for what at the time was stated as $2 billion but later revealed that the more accurate figure was $3 billion. This purchase occurred after the first development kits ordered through Oculus' 2012 Kickstarter had shipped in 2013 but before the shipping of their second development kits in 2014. Zenimax, Carmack's former employer, sued Oculus and Facebook for taking company secrets to Facebook; the verdict was in favour of Zenimax, settled out of court later. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/GKK-Case-for-Xiaomi-Redmi-Note-5-Plus-Mi-8-Lite-9-SE-Note-7-Pro/32857636521.html
The Labo VR Kit has you building a mobile VR headset out of cardboard, like the older Google Cardboard headsets, which you insert the Nintendo Switch into. You then build other controllers, like a camera or a blaster, and attach them to the headset to play games. It's fun and engaging, but even with an impressive game development kit in the software, it's ultimately just a novelty. The Labo VR Kit mostly provides 3DOF motion control, even if it uses the Joy-Cons' motion sensors in some very clever ways (one controller creates a triangulated 6DOF motion control system using both Joy-Cons in tandem), and the Switch's 720p screen offers some of the simplest and grainiest VR graphics we've seen in years. It scores so highly with us because as its own product, a crafts kit for kids who want to learn about VR and game development, it's excellent. It just isn't a feasible VR platform like the other systems discussed here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBGpU3Wo0zs&t=1s
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.
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.youtube.com/watch?v=pFSuajyJcwY&t=1s
Nintendo's Labo series of games/arts-and-crafts sets for the Nintendo Switch have interested us since the first Labo Variety Kit came out. You build your own controllers with cardboard and play games using the Switch and motion-sensing Joy-Con controllers. Now Nintendo has returned to VR (a field it hasn't set foot in since the ill-fated Virtual Boy) with its fourth Labo package, the Labo VR Kit. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Suntrsi-USB-Flash-Drive-64GB-Metal-Steel-Pen-Drive-High-Speed-Pendrive-Key-Chain-USB-Stick/32398155049.html
Virtual reality sickness (also known as cybersickness) occurs when a person's exposure to a virtual environment causes symptoms that are similar to motion sickness symptoms. Women are significantly more affected than men by headset-induced symptoms, at rates of around 77% and 33% respectively. The most common symptoms are general discomfort, headache, stomach awareness, nausea, vomiting, pallor, sweating, fatigue, drowsiness, disorientation, and apathy. For example, Nintendo's Virtual Boy received much criticism for its negative physical effects, including "dizziness, nausea, and headaches". These motion sickness symptoms are caused by a disconnect between what is being seen and what the rest of the body perceives. When the vestibular system, the body's internal balancing system, does not experience the motion that it expects from visual input through the eyes, the user may experience VR sickness. This can also happen if the VR system does not have a high enough frame rate, or if there is a lag between the body's movement and the onscreen visual reaction to it. Because approximately 25–40% of people experience some kind of VR sickness when using VR machines, companies are actively looking for ways to reduce VR sickness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwGfeMrPYmw&t=1s
A virtual environment should provide the appropriate responses – in real time- as the person explores their surroundings. The problems arise when there is a delay between the person’s actions and system response or latency which then disrupts their experience. The person becomes aware that they are in an artificial environment and adjusts their behaviour accordingly which results in a stilted, mechanical form of interaction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMmOLN5zBLY&t=1s
Many other companies are developing Virtual Reality headsets and other peripherals. Upcoming hardware includes the GenBasic Quad HD, StarVR StarOne, Vrgineers XTAL and Pansonite VR Headset. As more and better hardware hits the market, it will continue to power a growing ecosystem of hardware manufacturers, software developers, and content providers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6SsB3JYqQg&t=1s
It's not without issues though. We've already discussed VR exercise equipment as a promising concept let down by being such an expensive, bulky and sweaty process. But if you really want to "get in" the game, and you have space, hopping into an Omni could be pretty neat. We've tried it since its early days at CES and it's been able to stick it out through the years, improving the base, harness and shoes to ensure the best possible experience.
David Em became the first artist to produce navigable virtual worlds at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) from 1977 to 1984. The Aspen Movie Map, a crude virtual tour in which users could wander the streets of Aspen in one of the three modes (summer, winter, and polygons), was created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1978.
Speaking of medicine, the treatment of mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder, stands to benefit from the application of Virtual Reality technology to ongoing therapy programs. Whether it’s allowing veterans to confront challenges in a controlled environment, or overcoming phobias in combination with behavioral therapy, VR has a potential beyond gaming, industrial and marketing applications to help people heal from, reconcile and understand real-world experiences.
To create a feeling of immersion, special output devices are needed to display virtual worlds. Well-known formats include head-mounted displays or the CAVE. In order to convey a spatial impression, two images are generated and displayed from different perspectives (stereo projection). There are different technologies available to bring the respective image to the right eye. A distinction is made between active (e.g. shutter glasses) and passive technologies (e.g. polarizing filters or Infitec). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slQwVCm0XTc&t=1s
Virtual Reality’s most immediately-recognizable component is the head-mounted display (HMD). Human beings are visual creatures, and display technology is often the single biggest difference between immersive Virtual Reality systems and traditional user interfaces. For instance, CAVE automatic virtual environments actively display virtual content onto room-sized screens. While they are fun for people in universities and big labs, consumer and industrial wearables are the wild west. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86tl7K_MAmM&t=1s