Virtual Reality (VR) is an artificial environment which is created by the new computer technology. ‘Virtual’ means nearly real and ‘reality’ is what humans can experience in our daily life (Virtual Reality Society, 2020). VR world can be nearly like or entirely different from the real world and it can make you believe that you are somewhere else.
The most common way to dive into a VR world is by using Virtual Reality Headset. VR Headsets give users a new experience by immersing themselves in a virtual environment through a first-person perspective (Bhanji, 2018). It also uses Head Tracking and Motion Tracking to let users interact with the VR world. Users can actually throw and pick up items like in real life when using the VR system.
VR uses widely. VR is applied in many different fields such as entertainment, medical, sport, art. According to Hill (2016, p.3), VR can help medical trainees to enhance surgical skills and give them other benefits like time, money, and the safety of patients. It allows us to make mistakes in the virtual world and we can gain more experience from those mistakes. This technology is getting cheaper and more popular day by day.
VR uses immersive technology. Immersive technology is a technology that uses 360 space to expand reality or set up for a new reality (Covarrubias, 2020). When experience VR, users have a feeling like they are blocked out from the outside world and dive into the content of the VR world.
There are four major parts of a VR system:
- A stereoscopic display is a display that gives you a depth perception of the VR world. The device such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headset that gives you the display to send the images to your retina.
- Motion tracking is sophisticated hardware in your headset that can track the movement of your head and body. There are two kinds of position tracking in VR headsets and input devices: 3 degrees-of-freedom and 6 degrees-of-freedom ( Google VR, 2020). Degrees of freedom are the number of fundamental ways of an object that can move in 3D space.
- Input devices can give us interaction with the VR world. There are some devices like game controllers, hand-tracking motion sensors, and body tracking sensors that can give you the interaction that you want in the VR environment.
- 3D VR Software is the software that needed to install to process data into the VR headset.
There are a lot of debates about the origins of the VR concept. If we go back to 1957, there was actually a functional VR machine and it was called Sensorama. Sensorama was developed by Morton Heilig who was a cinematographer and a filmmaker. Sensorama was like an arcade theatre machine that would give users an experience of a simulated street when sitting in an imaginary motorcycle. It gave users a feeling like when they were in a real street by having winds that are generated by fans, simulated noises, and the smell of the city.
However, the word “virtual reality” was only popular by the 1980s thanks to Jaron Lanier-the pioneer of this field (Chan, 2018, p.30). Jaron Lanier was the founder of VPL Research which is one of the first companies that produce VR products. Although the company went bankrupt in 1999 it was still one of the major milestones in the VR field.
In 1991, Sega is one of the first companies that announced the VR headset for arcade games and their video game consoles. However, it was never released because of its safety.
Almost 20 years later, in 2010, the first prototype of the Oculus Rift was created. Oculus Rift is one of the most famous VR headsets right now. In 2014, Facebook bought this company with 2 billion dollars.
IMPACT OF THIS TECHNOLOGY
Since the first prototype of the Oculus Rift was made in 2010, VR becomes more and more widely used and affordable. Currently, this technology is used in a lot of different areas like military, education, health, video gaming, etc. In the military field, VR can increase soldiers’ safety when they are in training. In addition, medical trainees can improve their skills through a simulated surgery and they can learn from their mistakes in the simulated surgery to make a real surgery less dangerous. VR can also be used in business. Staff training in different fields like real estate, construction, and architecture can apply VR to improve their work.
In my opinion, VR can have an impact on the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the lockdown, a lot of people cannot hang out with their friends and families. They can only talk with each other through a phone or a video call. With the help of VR, people can play with their friends and families through a simulated world. They can actually talk and interact with each other during this COVID-19 pandemic. It can help people to feel less depressed during these hard times.
Bhanji, Z 2018, ‘ A New Reality: How VR Actually Works’, Predict, 2 October, retrieved 9 May 2020, < https://medium.com/predict/a-new-reality-how-vr-actually-works-663210bdff72>.
Chan, M 2018, Virtual reality: representations in contemporary media, Bloomsbury Publishing, retrieved 9 May 2020, <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00097a&AN=deakin.b3947297&site=eds-live&scope=site>.
Covarrubias, C 2020, ‘ What is Immersive Technology?’, Advrtas, retrieved 9 May 2020,< https://advrtas.com/immersive-technology/>
Google VR, 2020, ‘Degrees of freedom’, , retrieved 9 May 2020, <https://developers.google.com/vr/discover/degrees-of-freedom>.
Hill, ZB 2016, Virtual reality: advances in research and applications, Computer science, Technology and applications, Nova Science Publisher’s, Inc., retrieved 9 May 2020, <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00097a&AN=deakin.b3784127&authtype=sso&custid=deakin&site=eds-live&scope=site>.
Virtual Reality Society, 2020, ‘ What is Virtual Reality?’, retrieved 9 May 2020, < https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/what-is-virtual-reality.html>.