Virtual reality is the closest thing we have today to teleportation. This technology allows us to make experiences even more real and immersive thanks to special devices. There are many questions about this, what is virtual reality? how does it work? In what fields is it used? we tell you all about it!
What is Virtual Reality?
Let's start at the beginning, Virtual Reality (VR) arises from the creation of a fictitious environment or scenario that simulates a real appearance. This allows people to move to another place or situation and feel that they are really there, even when they have not moved from their place. This is achieved through virtual reality helmets or goggles, which are the ones that help to immerse oneself inside the video games. Thus the player can feel that is living the experience of the character or that is really exploring another world. Other devices such as headsets or simulated laser swords can also be used to get this experience.
This, which may seem extremely futuristic, is not as recent in origin as we might think. Many consider that one of the first Virtual Reality devices was the so-called Sensorama, a machine with a built-in seat that played 3D movies, emanated smells, and generated vibrations to make the experience as vivid as possible. The invention dates back to no less than the mid-1950s. From there, technological and software development in the following years brought with it the relevant evolutions in both devices and interface design.
How does it work?
Well, we have already established that to achieve this experience you need specific devices. Such as helmets or goggles as this is what will create the environment. In addition, you will need another device to create the background, which can be your cell phone or your computer. The goggles will manage to isolate you from everything around you and will widen your field of vision making it look like the screen is all around you, and not just in front of you.
To immerse you in this, it uses two different images in each eye, representing different angles of the same scene. This is what really simulates depth. And that's exactly why without the goggles you see the videos dedicated to this technology as doubles or distinct slices. In addition, it uses specific sensors that detect when we turn to make the space rotate simultaneously.
Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality
Although you may have heard of both, augmented and virtual reality are different concepts. Augmented reality is the one we see in games like Pokemon Go. Since it uses the real scenario by adding certain objects or "characters" through the screen or camera.
This is exactly like the filters people use on Instagram to have animals in their pics or even the famous filter to add cat or dog ears. Or like the Pokemons that appear in the middle of the street. The street is real but that object is created through augmented reality. On the other hand, the virtual one is created 100% through a technology that can be seen on the mobile or the computer. But there's no part of the scenario that is real and another fictitious one because all of it is fictional.
Virtual Reality Uses
Although we haven't yet taken full advantage of virtual reality, it's already being used in many areas. Let's get to know some of them:
Gaming is the area where virtual reality is used the most. This is mostly due to the specific hardware that has been launched by different developers in the last few years. For instance, with PS VR we can play all kinds of games, whether shooting, fighting, racing, zombies, or any other game you know. These are available for computers or consoles that have the hardware compatible with VR technology, as in the case of PlayStation.
Virtual reality technology makes it possible to visit museums remotely, as Google has done with the Frida Kahlo exhibit. Or learn about constellations and planets in an immersive way. In education, virtual reality offers a wide range of possibilities for learners of all ages.
The youngest children may be able to explore any part of the world without having to leave the classroom or university students can delve deeper into their fields of study. Whether they need to learn tourism, medicine, architecture, science, or robotics, everything is possible!
Using virtual reality to teach medicine is one of the most interesting uses at an academic level. Thanks to this, students can get to know the human body without having to wait for real practice. Moreover, thanks to VR technology, students can simulate all kinds of possible causes, diseases, and operations, among others. This can reduce the need to use cadavers or animals, for example, and allow continuous testing at no extra cost.