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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.
Currently standard virtual reality systems use either virtual reality headsets or multi-projected environments to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user's physical presence in a virtual environment. A person using virtual reality equipment is able to look around the artificial world, move around in it, and interact with virtual features or items. The effect is commonly created by VR headsets consisting of a head-mounted display with a small screen in front of the eyes, but can also be created through specially designed rooms with multiple large screens. Virtual reality typically incorporates auditory and video feedback, but may also allow other types of sensory and force feedback through haptic technology.

Desktop-based virtual reality involves displaying a 3D virtual world on a regular desktop display without use of any specialized positional tracking equipment. Many modern first-person video games can be used as an example, using various triggers, responsive characters, and other such interactive devices to make the user feel as though they are in a virtual world. A common criticism of this form of immersion is that there is no sense of peripheral vision, limiting the user's ability to know what is happening around them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ6a-pCgDH0&t=1s
Google and Samsung were the biggest names in mobile VR, with Google Cardboard and the Daydream View, and Samsung's line of Gear VR headsets. They respectively worked with Google's and Samsung's flagship phones, like the Pixel 3 and the Galaxy S9. However, both companies have been very quiet over the last year or so about the category, and we've yet to see a Gear VR headset compatible with the Galaxy S10 series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vgBDiDpLmU&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).
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. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/OHCOMICS-Harri-Potter-HP-Harry-HP-Hogwarts-Gryffindor-360-Degrees-Square-Ring-Stand-Mount-Holder-Mobile/32930948974.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/watch?v=FNq-8bWfAwQ&t=1s
Virtual reality, or VR, is a technology that lets you figuratively step inside a computer-generated 3D world. You can explore and sometimes even manipulate objects in that world. Imagine virtually stepping inside a video game, where the game world feels as real as the non-game world. In fact, video games are one of the most exciting and engaging ways to enjoy VR today.
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. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Insta360-Nano-S-4K-360-VR-Video-Panoramic-Camera-20MP-photos-for-iphone-X-iPhone-8/32968666887.html
Bees are, like, super important to how our ecologies work. You probably learned all of this in elementary school, but have you ever seen the process, from beginning to end? The National Honey Board wants to show you, in 360. You'll be a bee flying from flower to flower, then going back into the hive with the queen bee. After that, you'll take a look at how they get the honey out of the honeycombs and onto your table. Warning: Tons of buzzing. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/-/32760462949.html

HTC's Vive is a comprehensive package that includes a headset, two motion controllers, and two base stations for defining a "whole-room" VR area. It's technically impressive, and can track your movements in a 10-foot cube instead of just from your seat. It also includes a set of motion controllers more advanced than the PlayStation Move. PC-tethered VR systems like the Vive need plenty of power, with HTC recommending at least an Intel Core i5-4590 CPU and a GeForce GTX 970 GPU. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmCYZZwO3hg&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.youtube.com/watch?v=xRi-SvU7imU&t=1s

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That same year, Carolina Cruz-Neira, Daniel J. Sandin and Thomas A. DeFanti from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory created the first cubic immersive room, the Cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE). Developed as Cruz-Neira's PhD thesis, it involved a multi-projected environment, similar to the holodeck, allowing people to see their own bodies in relation to others in the room.[13][14] Antonio Medina, a MIT graduate and NASA scientist, designed a virtual reality system to "drive" Mars rovers from Earth in apparent real time despite the substantial delay of Mars-Earth-Mars signals.[15]
While audio-visual information is most easily replicated in Virtual Reality, active research and development efforts are still being conducted into the other senses. Tactile inputs such as omnidirectional treadmills allow users to feel as though they’re actually walking through a simulation, rather than sitting in a chair or on a couch. Haptic technologies, also known as kinesthetic or touch feedback tech, have progressed from simple spinning-weight “rumble” motors to futuristic ultrasound technology. It is now possible to hear and feel true-to-life sensations along with visual VR experiences.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a VR experience that's closer to the Rift and the Vive without the big price tag and the setup, this is the one you want. The room tracking is fantastic, the controllers are the best we've used and while it won't play all of the top end Rift games, there's a good collection of games and experiences to try out already that will hopefully grow over the coming months. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/360-Action-Camera-Panoramic-Ultra-HD-360-Camara-Deportiva-Wifi-Sport-Cam-Driving-VR-Camera/32773401861.html

Although we talk about a few historical early forms of virtual reality elsewhere on the site, today virtual reality is usually implemented using computer technology. There are a range of systems that are used for this purpose, such as headsets, omni-directional treadmills and special gloves. These are used to actually stimulate our senses together in order to create the illusion of reality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnbS8L2m49g&t=1s

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
In 1938, French avant-garde playwright Antonin Artaud described the illusory nature of characters and objects in the theatre as "la réalité virtuelle" in a collection of essays, Le Théâtre et son double. The English translation of this book, published in 1958 as The Theater and its Double,[2] is the earliest published use of the term "virtual reality". The term "artificial reality", coined by Myron Krueger, has been in use since the 1970s. The term "virtual reality" was first used in a science fiction context in The Judas Mandala, a 1982 novel by Damien Broderick. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Insta360-ONE-X-Sports-Action-Camera-Insta-360-One-X-5-7K-VR-Video-Panoramic-Camera/32954757912.html
That same year, Carolina Cruz-Neira, Daniel J. Sandin and Thomas A. DeFanti from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory created the first cubic immersive room, the Cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE). Developed as Cruz-Neira's PhD thesis, it involved a multi-projected environment, similar to the holodeck, allowing people to see their own bodies in relation to others in the room.[13][14] Antonio Medina, a MIT graduate and NASA scientist, designed a virtual reality system to "drive" Mars rovers from Earth in apparent real time despite the substantial delay of Mars-Earth-Mars signals.[15]
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."[6]
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=SpHQ-iu5EGs&t=1s
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.
Beyond video games, there are several other exciting ways to experience VR. College students can use VR technology to learn complex, dangerous tasks — like piloting an airplane or performing surgery — in a safe environment. Architects and engineers can incorporate VR technology to see their works rendered in 3D before a single brick is laid or a screw is turned. Real estate agents can give virtual tours of buildings for sale, even if the potential buyer is hundreds of miles away, using VR technology. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/hot-item-furniture-home-balck-square-swivel-plate-turntable-360-degree-rotating-lazy-susan-swivel-3inch/32612125481.html
Special input devices are required for interaction with the virtual world. These include the 3D mouse, the wired glove, motion controllers, and optical tracking sensors. Controllers typically use optical tracking systems (primarily infrared cameras) for location and navigation, so that the user can move freely without wiring. Some input devices provide the user with force feedback to the hands or other parts of the body, so that the human being can orientate himself in the three-dimensional world through haptics and sensor technology as a further sensory sensation and carry out realistic simulations. Additional haptic feedback can be obtained from omnidirectional treadmills (with which walking in virtual space is controlled by real walking movements) and vibration gloves and suits. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MeqUPkVg2U&t=1s
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.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ0hN4ITvWg&t=1s