VR - What It Is And Where it Is Going
Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that merges the real world and digital content to create an immersive experience. Early examples of virtual reality can be traced back to the late 19th century, but it wasn’t until the 1940s and 1950s that VR became widely known about.
The first virtual reality headsets appeared in the early 1960s, but these were bulky and hardly portable. In the mid-1990s, head-mounted displays such as Google Cardboard and dork helmets became accessible to most people at low costs. Since then, interest in VR has only grown. With different software developments like ARKit, industry trends like mixed reality, and new hardware designs such as headsets like Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap One, virtual reality continues to grow stronger than ever before.
VR headsets, also known as goggles or stereoscopic head-mounted displays, are used to create VR experiences. The content created in VR can include:
Manipulating objects in the virtual world. For example, you can pick up an object or manipulate a 3D model of a building in the virtual world to see the changes you make in real time.
Viewing a VR experience in a first person perspective, like being inside the virtual world. This is known as VR immersion.
Viewing the virtual world from a bird’s-eye perspective, like looking down on the virtual world. This is known as VR aerial view.
Interacting with the virtual world, such as physically walking through it or interacting with objects in the virtual world.
How Virtual Reality with Headsets Began: The History
The first headsets capable of reproducing three-dimensional images were developed in the early 1960s. In 1962, Dutch inventor Anton Keller filed for a patent for a device called the “Picture To Be Analysed”. The headset had a small camera that was able to take images of whatever the person looked at. The images were then displayed to the person through a screen placed in front of the camera. Although this device was never commercially produced or sold, it was an important first step towards the development of virtual reality headsets.
The next step in the evolution of virtual reality headsets came with the invention of systems developed by companies like NTT DoCoMo, who began to introduce VR devices to Japanese universities in the early 2000s. One of the most notable VR devices of this time was the “VR HeadSet for DoCoMo”, a system developed by NTT DoCoMo that could display 3D images to the user’s eyes, but also allow them to interact with the virtual environment by moving their head. By allowing users to move their head around to interact with the virtual world, VR headsets of the 2000s began to show significant promise.
VR in the Media and Games Industries
VR has seen growing interest in the media and gaming industries in recent years, with some notable examples including:
VR is being used to promote tourism destinations like the Egyptian pyramids. Visitors are put inside the pyramids and able to walk around and explore the spaces. VR is also being used to promote famous landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower.
VR films are increasingly being produced and released, with some notable examples including:
“The Polarbear Adventure” is a VR film created by the Dutch government. In the film, the viewer walks through the streets of Amsterdam and visits Dutch landmarks, like the Anne Frank House. This film was created as part of Netherlands’ New Amsterdam campaign to promote the Dutch city among tourists and foreign visitors.
“Lost in Space” is a VR film that takes place in the future. The film follows the crew of the Space Shuttle who land on a planet where a group of aliens are waiting for them. When the viewer puts on a VR headset and looks around, they see the same view as the people in the film.
VR also has the potential to be used to support therapy and healthcare applications. For example, people with anxiety disorders may benefit from VR-enabled group therapy sessions that help the person feel less anxious when they are with other people.
Why is VR So Important?
Virtual reality headsets are exciting because they offer a new immersive and interactive way to experience the world. VR is growing in popularity and is expected to become more accessible as prices decrease and quality improves. This will allow more people to experience VR and make the technology more relevant to communication, education, and training. VR will also likely be incorporated into future medical procedures and therapies, like virtual reality for anxiety disorders and virtual reality for physical therapy.
Pros and Cons of Virtual Reality with Headsets
Virtual reality with headsets is a promising technology that is growing in popularity among consumers. VR with headsets offers a high degree of immersion and interactivity with virtual environments. However, headsets can be expensive and require powerful computers to run the glasses, which can be costly and require upgrading frequently. Some headsets are also hampered by a lack of content, high costs of access, and a limited range of experiences. With the growth of smartphone computing, virtual reality will likely experience further growth in popularity, but it may take some time before VR headsets are affordable enough for the general public to purchase and experience.
Future of Virtual Reality with Headsets
Virtual reality headsets will likely move beyond today’s mobile and tethered devices to connected glasses, earbuds, and headphones. The growth of virtual reality will likely continue as more affordable and convenient devices are released. Along with hardware improvements, software will continue to improve and expand in both quality and quantity of experiences. More robust hardware and software will be required to create high-quality virtual experiences with the latest headsets and will likely be accompanied by powerful computers and gaming consoles.
Virtual reality has experienced tremendous growth in the last few years and will only continue to grow in popularity as new and more accessible devices are released. VR headsets are still expensive and not available to the general public, but once they become more accessible they will likely be used by millions of people.