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A Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer simulation which a user interacts with in a way that gives the sensation of physical presence in a virtual world.
Virtual realities (VR) are displayed either on a computer screen or a specially-designed headset. VRs are navigated and manipulated using a computer keyboard and mouse, game system controller, or with purpose-built exoskeleton gloves which may even be designed to simulate the sensation of touch. Many virtual realities are augmented by audio input from speakers or headphones, and some early VR systems even included smells, though no current VR systems integrate smell.
Virtual reality is used for a range of purposes including:
- Training: The most common use of VR for training is by military organizations who use VR for combat training and as a flight simulation platform for pilot training. However, there are other applications of VR for training including emergency responder driving training, < a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1422600/" target="_blank">medical training, and to train children in road-crossing skills.
- Video games: VR has found a home in the video game industry since the 1990s, and VR is expected to explode in growth within this industry over the coming years.
- Artistic expression: There have been several instances of virtual reality being used as a medium by artist to create virtual worlds for artistic expression. Examples of this application of VR date back to the 1970s and continued up through the 1990s. More recently, computer artists have found homes in other media industries including video games and cinematography.
- Virtual tourism: Google Street View allows users to virtually experience travel through cities around the world, and even includes walk-throughs of major attractions such as the White House in Washington, D.C., USA.
- Urban design: VR is used to present a 3D rendering of proposed development and urban renewal projects.
- Therapy: VR is used as a theraputic treatment for a variety of phobias, anxiety disorders, and for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any concerns with the increased use of virtual reality?
There are three types of issues associated with virtual reality that need to be considered:
- Physical issues: In some people use of VR can cause motion sickness and create balance issues. In addition, in the case of immersive VR systems, there is the potential for injury as users are not aware of their physical surroundings.
- Technical challenges: VR systems are often expensive and complicated. A certain degree of technical competence is needed to set up and operate a VR system, and technical training may be needed in some cases.
- Psychological dangers: VR presents a richer media experience than other forms of media. Since internet, video game, and other media addictions are already present without VR, it is anticipated that these disorders will become more pronounced as they are experienced in an augmented VR setting.
What are the most recent developments in VR?
There are two major VR technology trends that will shape VR for the coming years. First, many VR headsets are available today that enable a user to convert a smartphone in a VR system. Some of these headsets cost less than $20. Second, the most anticipated VR headset of all time, the Oculus Rift, will be released in 2016, and will be the first professional-grade VR headset for the consumer market.
The ability to use a modern smartphone as a VR system, and the availability of professional-grade VR headsets for the consumer market are expected to drive massive growth in the VR industry in the coming years.