VR is fast becoming a gamechanger in the entertainment industry, with millions of video games, movies, and educational tools now being experienced through the medium.
The VR gaming revenue currently sits at $1.1 billion and this is still rapidly growing. It is taking over the world – there are over 171 million VR users worldwide. But, what does VR actually stand for?
The short answer is VR stands for Virtual Reality. However, this won’t make much sense until you understand what VR is and how it is used. Virtual Reality could mean anything! So here is a quick guide to what VR actually is, and what the name truly stands for.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality is, essentially, a reality emulation. This means that it is trying to reproduce a type of reality for people to experience. It does this through a 3D computer-generated environment that someone can explore and become immersed in.
How Does Virtual Reality Work?
Virtual Reality takes over your senses. When you wear an HMD (Head Mounted Display), it consumes your sight and sound. You combine this with a connecting input, such as controllers, hand tracking, or head tracking, so the software will be able to sync up your movements with the Virtual Reality experience.
This then makes you entirely in control of what happens with physical movements, rather than just buttons on a keyboard.
There are two main forms of HMD. Products like the Oculus Rift and the PlayStation VR connect to an HDMI cable in a console, such as a PlayStation or a computer, and the video is sent through this.
Another form of VR is through placing a smartphone in an HMD so the video is already there. This is the case with the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream.
Who Can Use It?
Almost everyone can use Virtual Reality environments if they have access to the products. Because VR is used for so many different purposes, including the military, sport, and medical training, it has a huge target audience and there are very few limitations to it.
However, VR companies will discourage children from using it, particularly if they are under the age of 13.
This is because the 3D environment can potentially cause eyes to focus in a manner that causes strain, which could then lead to eye damage later on.
But if children are using VR, then doctors recommend that they take a 10-minute break every hour.
Another thing that should be taken into consideration is conditions such as epilepsy or sensitivity to rapidly changing light.
Certain programs in VR have been known to trigger seizures because of special effects, so it is best to avoid Virtual Reality altogether if this affects you.
What Is Virtual Reality Used For?
The initial, and most popular, use of virtual reality is for games.
With certain elements of VR, such as bio-sensing (a way of detecting a person’s presence in a game), a VR user is able to make body movements for a character in a 3D environment by making those body movements in real life.
For example, with Arizona Sunshine (a 2016 first-person zombie survival game), you can play it through a variety of VR software, including Oculus Quest, where you can attack zombies by actually moving your hands.
You can reload and change your weapons by physically reaching for your ‘ammo belt’, and you can also hold two things at the same time which is a newer feature for video games.
We all know the struggle of going to a cinema and not being able to concentrate on a film because someone is eating popcorn loudly next to you, or there is a light flickering by the screen.
VR helps you to fully immerse yourself into a blissful viewing experience with no sensory interruptions.
One of the best apps for this is Bigscreen, where you can purchase a ticket for a film that is currently screening and watch it in a virtual cinema. Other people will be watching it at the same time and you can interact with them if you wish.
Virtual Reality is being used for a variety of medicinal purposes. One of these is for medical training, so medical or dental students can practice surgeries or procedures in a consequence-free environment.
This means that if they do happen to make a mistake, no one will actually be hurt. As well as this, VR is used for mental health therapy.
For example, those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are able to go through exposure therapy in a virtual environment where they can come to terms with what they experienced and heal from it.
VR is now being used as a form of training in the army, navy, air force, marines, and coast guard.
It has been vital because it allows the military to ‘transport’ a trainee into a variety of situations they may face in real life, such as a battlefield or flight simulation, without putting them in any harm. VR technology provides a huge reduction in costs for military training.
Students are able to go on virtual field trips through VR. This could be wandering around a museum, traveling to the Victoria era, or spending time with dinosaurs.
This helps them to understand why, and how, certain events happened but in a way that has never been possible before.
Is There A Specific Type Of VR Headset You Should Use?
This depends on what you are using the virtual reality headset for. Most users will look for a headset that has a high resolution, especially if they are using it for gaming and watching films.
The tethered headset (connected to a console by a wire) is sought after because it tends to be more compatible with different types of software, but the standalone headset (wireless) can be easier to use for more physical VR experiences, such as a sports video game.
So, now that we’ve gone through what VR actually is and how it can be used, it is fairly self-explanatory. VR stands for Virtual Reality, an environment that you can place yourself into and interact with, without actually being there.
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