Ever wondered of the powers of virtual reality? What is it really capable of? I’ll tell you what, it’s more than you could have ever expected.
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality can be regarded as anything projected by a source of media that seems real, but is not physically real. Also known as immersive multimedia, virtual reality more simply defines the simulation of a user’s physical presence in an environment, in a way that the user can interact with it — whether that be with sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste.
It has become a global topic of discussion and hype in the past decade, and after a history of failing, it has eventually failed its way to success. Nowadays, it’s most notable for the virtual reality headsets that are all over the gaming news world., but there is more to virtual reality than meets the eye.
Virtual Reality Headsets
The up-and-coming, but coming-for-a-long-time technology — virtual reality headsets — are seen as the next generation of simulation. These modern stereoscopic displays can project any 3D buildable object or environment to the user, in which they can physically look around and perceive the environment. All without any serious health drawbacks.
Some of the big players in the game are currently battling it out in 2016 to be the top dog — so far, many of them have announced their releases, but have yet to be released.
Here are some of the virtual reality kings:
Also known as the famous virtual reality company that was bought by one Mr Zuckerberg from the well-known Facebook. The Oculus Rift is the virtual reality headset, that can also be pre-ordered with the Oculus Touch, that are two handheld controllers that act as virtual hands.
Oculus have been the most exciting prospect for virtual reality fans for a number of years, as they seemingly led the race to create a commercialised virtual reality headset, that’s readily available to households.
Unfortunately, although the most anticipated, the Oculus Rift has somewhat been pushed off the podium, as Sony’s Project Morpheus was revealed as PlayStation VR and is set to come out in October this year. The pre-order launch sold out on Amazon.
Here is an example of the Oculus Rift in action:
The HTC Vive, in partnership with SteamVR, looks to be one of the most promising headsets being made available. Valve’s Steam client is undoubtedly the most successful online gaming platform, and this partnership is going to see massive benefits.
The PlayStation VR is, as of recently, the more popular headset to the masses, as the recent news of their sold out pre-orders suggests. Maybe they’re the more trusted brand because all PS4 owners with an interest in virtual reality will undoubtedly purchase one — or maybe it’s because it was designed solely for the console (instead of PC).
Not the biggest contender but, closely following some, the Gear VR is owned by Samsung but powered by Oculus, and is optimised for Samsung mobile phones.
Trying something completely different, Microsoft created the HoloLens, once again trying to affirm that they are one of the technological powerhouses of the world. The HoloLens does do something awesomely different to the other headsets, though, instead of putting the user into a first-person perspective, it uses holograms to take them out and allow the user to see the world from a third-person view.
A fantastic demonstration can be seen in the video below:
The company, Virtuix, specialises in its omnidirectional treadmill, which is essentially a treadmill on which you can move in any direction, and that movement will be transferred into the virtual world. Considering this, the Virtuix Omni is awesome, and with its concave platform, support ring, safety harness, and safety shoes, it’s hard not to say that you want one already.
Check out one of its uses below:
A similar product that is ready for preorder is the Cyberith Visualiser, which is distinct for its flat platform, and doesn’t need it’s own shoes — just custom overshoes.
Data gloves are essentially gloves that project your physical hands into the virtual world, just as the headsets do, allowing you to touch and feel (to a certain degree), as well as handle and manipulate virtual objects. As the first consumer virtual reality glove, the Manus VR is certainly an exciting prospect, that is currently up for pre-order.
Now, imagine all of these technologies used at the same time. Imagine all the possibilities that this could mean for technology, and society as a whole. Here is my list of major uses of these virtual reality technologies, and the aspects of society that they will further:
- Gaming, film, music, books, art
- Museums + galleries, theatres, theme parks
- Scientific visualisation and physics
- Vehicle design
- Fashion: 3D fashion design, virtual fashion shows
- Architecture: create virtual buildings and study virtual architecture
- Surgery, dentistry, nursing, therapy, phobia treatment, rehabilitation
- Simulation: flight, battlefield, medical, vehicle, bootcamp
- Training, sporting events (imagine watching a World Cup Final from the other side of the world!)
- For new employees, vehicle driving, machinery operation
- History — imagine walking through Ancient Rome, or the Wild West of the 1800s
- Science — imagine travelling to different planets or solar systems
- Geography — imagine going to places all over the Earth that you can’t easily travel to (imagine walking Google Maps!)
- And unfortunately, pornography.
Feel like a morning stroll? On the moon or underwater? Want to know what Ancient Egypt was like without reading books upon books of history? Maybe you’re bed-ridden with a debilitating condition or paraplegia — why not visit Paris or London and go for a walkabout? This is what amazes me about virtual reality (but misuse also scares me).
What could you imagine using virtual reality technology for?