Most of the times we heard about technology in 2017 was in relation to the methods that had social networks and reprogramming over the society that we have. Although we should not look at the issues that were causing things to be unreasonable and understandable and also direct attention to other technologies that make you say “that’s great”. It is easy to expect to see something so amazing and ambitious that the fact is that it appears to be an incredible one.
In our view, virtual reality (VR) consists of sensory immersion in a new world, based on real or not, that has been generated artificially, and that we can perceive thanks to virtual reality glasses and their accessories ( audio headphones, gloves, etc … ). The objective of this technology is to create a fictitious world that you can be part of and even be the protagonist: seeing a car in a virtual dealership, being the protagonist of a video game or practicing how to do an open-heart operation.
As happened with mobile phones or the internet, the emergence of virtual reality is one of the most important technological changes of recent times. Although we are still not too aware, due to the lack of means to prove it and also due to the current shortage of developed applications (which are increasingly numerous and more complex), virtual reality and its adaptation at the user level will mean a before and after then in the way we consume multimedia content: video games, movies, sporting events, concerts, documentaries, etc …
Many say that virtual reality is the new 3D, but they are wrong. Unlike this, with the virtual reality helmets, the user transports his mind to other places, to the point of being able to “feel” that he is there. Such is the deception towards our brain that if we play a game of terror the heart rate will speed up and if we ride a roller coaster, we will feel dizziness or vertigo similar to the real one. With the main glasses on the market, users now ask themselves two questions: is it the future? And what is the difference between all the devices?
Reinventing an old idea
For four or five years the term virtual reality has been sounding more than ever among consumers, but its origin is more than fifty years old. In the 1950s, director of photography had a kind of cabin that stimulated numerous senses (it had fans, the chair vibrated, smelled and had up to 3D). A few years later, in 1960, Heilig invented the first helmet of “virtual reality” or HMD.
What mechanisms intervene in virtual reality?
To define the mechanisms on which virtual reality is based, five factors are usually named:
Three-dimensional graphics that allow us to have a real perception of what we see through virtual reality glasses.
This type of techniques is what allows us to give depth and realism to three-dimensional images, not to be confused with any programming or hardware, but it is an effect that we can achieve with two parallel images, “cheating” the mind so that these overlap and create the feeling of depth.
The movements that a character will follow are not predefined but are improvised and have multiple variables, so they are constantly evolving.
Easy to navigate
For mobility when managing our “avatar”, we no longer have a single device as a command, but our vision is merged with the application on which we are interacting, only worrying about managing certain control to perform a certain action. Therefore, the controls will be so intuitive that it will be very easy to develop in these worlds since we will develop natural movements.
Techniques for total immersion
Virtual reality glasses have something very curious and necessary, as is the isolation of the real world. So, the feeling of immersion and the parallel reality that you live is as complete as possible. Being the ear and the sight the senses that more stimuli receive.
What uses can virtual reality have?
Although video games have become the most striking at the consumer level, especially because players can have the feeling of being in fantasy or real worlds from the living room of their home, this technology offers great uses at a professional level. Thanks to it, pilots, astronauts or military can make flight simulations without endangering human lives and without generating additional costs. In the case of medicine, students or professionals can perform virtual operations to be more secure or to know possible complications.
There are museums and places of interest that can be visited in virtual reality and thus know them even if the user is thousands of kilometres from the place. In terms of design, buyers of a house, for example, can visit the pilot floor without it having been built, reducing costs and time. Other interesting uses are the treatment of phobias or disorders. The Malaga company HoloVR teaches courses to children with autism so they can interact with everyday situations in a virtual world and thus make them safe without danger.
Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality
With the rise of this technology, terms have emerged that for those not accustomed to it can be complicated.
Virtual reality: the user has before his eyes a 360º environment through which he can move. That is, if you are in a room, you can walk around it and if you are inside a plane, you could look around. The ‘absolute positioning’ means that if the user comes close to an object, note that feeling, deceiving the brain even more.
Augmented reality: this technology is based on creating 3D objects in the real world to see them through special glasses or thanks to the mobile camera. The best-known example would be the video game ‘Pokémon Go’ that made characters appear around us.
Mixed reality: they are a type of glasses that “mix” both realities (virtual and augmented) to create a total interaction between worlds. For example, to detect our position and appear a TV in the living room or a shopping list in the fridge, always staying in that position while interacting with it.
The three great obstacles to virtual reality
Virtual reality faces three major problems that are causing its beginnings to take a slow pace. The first is the lack of knowledge of what it can offer. For many videos that you see on YouTube, the user who has not tried this technology cannot get an idea of what it feels like to put them on. Just like the video of a cake cannot replace the pleasure of eating it, you can not feel the immersion that this technology offers a conventional video. Likewise, virtual reality games that come out for mobile phones cannot be compared at the moment with the experience offered by their older sisters, which causes some users to have a preconceived misconception.
The second point is motion sickness. Many people get dizzy when going by boat or car because of the lack of balance and the loss of spatial control, that is, their eyes perceive that they are moving but their body does not feel the same. Virtual reality does that with the brain. It makes him believe that we move, but he detects that we are not doing it. This “conflict” causes many people to get dizzy and nauseous when trying them. To alleviate this problem, it is advisable to start with games or programs with a more leisurely movement. Thus, the brain will get used to it and little by little it will be lost that initial feeling of discomfort suffered by some users.
The last problem is the high cost. When HTC Vive came out, its price was around € 900 and also required a PC with high performance to fully enjoy them. But the arrival of the PlayStation VR for € 399 made the record move to the competition, which has been lowering the price to be much more competitive. The new glasses that foresee their exit in the short term, like the Asus, will have a much lower price: 449 €.
Where is virtual reality headed?
Apple and Google have joined this technology and have just released tools so that developers can fully squeeze this technology into their mobile devices. For now, the future of virtual reality facing the consumer is mostly focused on video games, offering increasingly better experiences (‘Resident Evil 7’ or ‘Farpoint’ are an example of this). The creator of Facebook, in about 9 years we will have changed some real objects of our houses, like television, for applications of 1 dollar that will make us see that it is there. Like so many other technologies, what was once a product of science fiction is now a reality? Many of the companies are making their own virtual reality glasses to the market, marking the beginning of the virtual era both in video games and in other aspects where this technology will have application.
Tom Sanders from doit4state.com received his Bachelors in Education from Harbors University in Queens. He writes about the products, people, and ideas that are revolutionizing business with technology.