Virtual reality is a completely immersive experience that is generated by a computer; a virtual reality set up takes you into a whole new world simulated by the computer. Virtual realities make you oblivious of the world around you and make you conscious of the simulated setup.
It is a simulated reality that is generated by codes written in software, which when presented to a user makes them completely believe they are in a new world and experiencing different things.
VR for short, the whole experience is modulated primarily by 2 of the 5 human senses, hearing and vision. It allows us to experience things that we would not normally be able to experience in the real world or perhaps do the things we would want to do in the real world.
Imagine being able to ride a dragon or perhaps a unicorn? Maybe you have fantasized about experiencing World War 2 or even taking a trip to the far ends of our solar system; with advances in VR, all of these fantasies can be experienced.
VR takes you out of the real world and plunges you straight into that fantasy world you have been dreaming of. The best thing about VR is that what happens in VR, stays in VR, cool right?
Virtual reality glasses or headsets are the new cool in VR and are becoming increasingly popular ahead of the head-mounted display. VR glasses work like 3D goggles, they display two different images, one for each eye, through polarised lenses and allow the user to feel the illusion of the depth of the image and make it appear in 3D virtual reality.
Gamers and Entertainers prefer the use of these 3D glasses as they are lighter and more comfortable to wear than the standard head-mounted display.
Popular examples of VR headsets
These are examples of some VR devices developed by various companies, Oculus rift is considered the most popular of them all and is currently owned by Facebook.
- Oculus Rift
- HTC vive
- Sony’s PlayStation VR
- Samsung Gear VR
- Immersive presence
- Google Cardboard.
Does VR really work?
VR has a way of convincing the brain that you are in a completely different environment, I mean, let’s face it; one may think it is completely absurd that placing a screen on your face alone would make you feel like you are in a new world entirely.
The trick is to tell your brain that the 2-dimensional image or environment in your face is actually 3-dimensional and you are currently inside of this new world and experiencing it.
How does VR work?
VR is experienced through screens called virtual reality glasses, placed on your face to display computer-generated images of a new environment. The screen completely blocks off the real world and displays the new imaginary world in its place
The most important tool for experiencing VR is the headsets, these VR glasses are what display computer-generated images of an imaginary world.
These high-quality headsets make use of your peripheral vision to give images of a full 3D experience of a brand new world.
What are the gadgets used to experience VR?
You may be wondering how it is possible to make movements in the imaginary world or even do anything in there.
Asides the headset/VR glasses, controllers are available to help you navigate your way through the VR world, also certain body movements are simulated in the imaginary world as well. If an individual moves their head sideways, the scenery in the VR world is also adjusted to accommodate for this body movement.
As technology progresses, new improvements are being made to VR software every day to allow for an improved immersive experience.
How does sound come in?
Binaural audio is the new wave in VR sound, it allows the user to hear two different sounds on both ears. This generates the acoustic effect a person would feel when they hear the sound around them normally.
With our sense of hearing, we can become fully immersed in the world of VR.
Did you say smell?
You are probably wondering if it is even possible to use your sense of smell in VR, imagine being in VR and you not only get to see or hear what is going on in this completely different reality, but you also get to actually use your sense of smell.
Maybe you want to smell the wet green grass or a beautiful flower in this new world. Researchers are currently working on a way to improve the sense of smell in VR so as to further immerse users more into this imaginary reality.
Some researchers have gone ahead to make “olfactory packs” to improve the sense of smell in VR. These packs contain a certain amount of scents that are released in tiny bursts around the user’s nose, just about enough to make them experience the sense of smell and get even further immersed.
What about taste?!
Yes, science was made to push boundaries, to test our imaginations and bring them to reality, in VR, it is no different. Our sense of smell is known to very well affect our sense of taste, and hence researchers have found a way to incorporate this phenomenon into VR.
Users can now have an idea of what taste is like in VR based on their sense of smell.
Finally, some decades ago, no one ever thought anything like VR would ever exist or anyone would be able to experience a world different from our own. But with advances in science and technology, boundaries are constantly being broken and new landmarks are reached.
In the next few years, we can expect to see more breakthroughs to allow for an even more immersive experience, maybe in the future people would even prefer to experience most of their lives in a simulated world.