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Virtual reality (VR) is the use of computer modelling and simulation to allow an individual to communicate directly with an artificial three-dimensional (3-D) visual or other sensory environment. VR applications plunge the user in a computer-generated environment that simulates reality by the use of interactive devices that send and receive information and are worn as goggles, headsets, gloves, or body suits. In a classic VR format, a user wears a helmet with a three dimensional screen and views moving images of a simulated world. The impression of “being there” (telepresence) is created by motion sensors that detect the user’s motions and adapt the view on the screen accordingly, typically in real time (the instinctive reflex the user’s movement occurs). As a result, a user can walk through a simulated set of rooms, experiencing changing points of view that are compellingly relevant to his own head turnings and moves. Wearing data gloves installed with force-feedback devices that will provide the sensation of touch, the user could even pick up and interact with objects in the virtual environment.
Jaron Lanier coined the term virtual reality in 1987, and his research and engineering made a significant contribution to the nascent VR industry with a number of products. The role of the federal government, specifically the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was a common thread connecting early VR research and technology development in the United States (NASA). Projects funded by these organizations and carried out at university-based research laboratories resulted in a large pool of talented personnel in fields such as computer graphics, simulation, and networked environments, as well as the establishment of links between academic, military, and commercial work.
VR software development has emerged as a new method of producing media and entertainment. It is also used for purposes other than game development. VR technology is being used in industries such as automotive, virtual production, and many others to simulate environments in order to improve people and test products in real time.
What is Virtual Reality All About?
Virtual reality (VR) is the experience of things that do not exist in the real world through our computers. The concept does not appear to be particularly novel based on that simple definition. When you look at an amazing Canaletto painting, for instance, you are experiencing the sights and sounds of Italy around 250 years ago—a kind of virtual reality. Similarly, if you keep your eyes closed and listen to atmospheric instrumental or classical music, do you start dreaming about things? Is it not an example of virtual reality—an interaction of a world that does not really even exist? Imagine getting lost in a book or a movie. Wouldn’t that be also a form of virtual reality? To fully comprehend why books, movies, paintings, and pieces of music are not the same as virtual reality, we need to define VR fairly clearly. For the specific purpose of this simple, introductory article, it would be defined as a believable, interactive 3D computer-created world that you can explore so that you feel physically and mentally as if you are there. To put it in other words, virtual reality in essence is:
- Convincing – You must truly believe that you are in your virtual world (on Mars, for example) and maintain that belief, or the perception of virtual reality will fade.
- Engaging – The VR world must move with you as you move around. You can watch a 3D movie and be flown to the Moon or the seafloor, but it is not interactive in any way.
- Computer-generated – The fact that they are computer-generated is significant because only powerful machines with realistic 3D computer graphics are fast enough to create believable, interactive, alternate worlds that make a difference in real-time as we keep moving around them.
- An Open World – A VR world should be large and detailed enough to allow you to explore it. A painting, no matter how realistic it appears, depicts only one scene from a single point of view. A book can describe a massive and diverse “virtual world,” but it can only be explored in a single direction, exactly as the author describes it.
- Immersive – VR must engage both the user’s body and mind in order to be both convincing and interactive. Paintings by war artists can provide sneak peek of dispute, and they can also never entirely express the direct view, noise, smell, flavors, and feel of battle. You can play a flight simulator game on your home PC for hours and lose yourself in a very realistic, interactive experience (the landscape will constantly change as your plane flies through it), but it isn’t the same as using a real flight simulator (in which users sit in a hydraulic cylinders mockup of a real flight deck and feel real forces as it tips and tilts), and even less like flying a plane.
This explains why reading a book, viewing works of art, listening to a classical music, or watching a film do not meet the criteria as virtual reality. They all provide sneak peeks of some other reality, but none of it is engaging, explorable, or completely convincing. If you are sitting in a movie theatre with a giant picture of Mars on the screen and you turn your head too far, you will realize and recall that you are actually on Earth, and the illusion will vanish. If you see something interesting on the screen, you probably wouldn’t be able to reach out and touch it or walk towards it since the illusion will simply vanish. As a result, these types of entertainment are mainly passive: they do not actually involve you in any way, no matter how believable they may be. Virtual reality is a unique experience. It gives the impression that you are actually living in a completely believable virtual world (one in which, to use the technical jargon, you are partly or fully immersed). It is two-way interactive: as you react to what you are seeing, what you see reacts to you: as you turn your head, what you can see or hear in VR changes to reflect your new perspective.
So to summarize it, the use of computer technologies to build a simulated environment is referred to as virtual reality (VR). In the case of VR, with the exception of traditional user interfaces, the user is immersed in the experience. So rather than viewing the screen in front of them, users are immersed and can interact with 3D environments. Virtual reality stimulates the senses of smell, vision, touch, and hearing. The computer in virtual reality employs sensors and math. Instead of placing a real camera in a physical environment, the user’s eyes are placed in the simulated environment. The graphics react in response to the user’s head movements. Rather than combining a real scene and virtual objects, VR technology creates an interactive and convincing world for the user.
The Three Types of Virtual Reality
Extended reality refers to all three types of virtual reality, whether non-immersive, semi-immersive, fully immersive, or a combination of the three (XR). Different levels of computer-generated simulation are provided by three types of virtual reality experiences. The three primary VR categories are as follows:
- Non-Immersive Virtual Reality – Because it is just so common, this category is frequently overlooked as VR. Non-immersive VR technology employs a computer-generated simulated reality in which the user is both aware of and held in check by their physical surroundings. Video games are a prime example of non-immersive VR.
- Semi-Immersive Virtual Reality – This category of VR provides an experience that is partly based in a virtual environment. With graphical computing and large projector systems, this form of VR makes perfect sense for educational and training purposes, such as flight simulators for pilot trainees.
- Fully Immersive Virtual Reality – There are currently no fully immersive VR technologies, but recent advancements are so rapid that they may be just around the corner. This type of VR creates the most realistic simulation experience in the field, from field of vision to sound and, in some cases, even odor sensations. Auto racing games are an excellent demonstration of immersive virtual reality that provide the user with the sensory experience of speed and driving skills. VR has been created for playing games and other forms of entertainment, but its application in other fields is increasing at a rate.
Specific shared characteristics are included in the definition of virtual technology. They are not only immersive, but also computer-generated, realistic as multidimensional experiences, and engaging.
What Is the Distinction Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is an all-encompassing synthetic and completely immersive experience that covers up the natural world. Augmented reality (AR) augments users’ actual views with digital overlays that include artificial objects. VR generates artificial environments using sensory stimulation. Users’ actions have an impact on what happens in the computer-generated environment, at least in part. Digital environments are representations of real-world locations that exist independently of current physical reality. In augmented reality, the real world is viewed directly or through a device such as a camera to generate a visual, which is then supplemented with computer-generated input variables such as still graphics, audio, or video. AR differs from VR in that it enhances the real life experience instead of attempting to create a new one from scratch.
What Is the Process of Virtual Reality Technology?
The VR process combines software and hardware to produce immersive environments and experiences that “trick” the eye and brain. The hardware reinforces sensory stimulation and simulation, such as noises, contact, smell, or heat intensity, while the software renders the virtual environment. The process of creating immersive experiences is similar to how the eye and brain create visuals. Human eyes are about three inches apart, resulting in two slightly different perspectives. The brain combines these views to produce a sense of depth or a stereoscopic display. VR applications simulate this phenomenon by using two identical images from two different perspectives. Instead of displaying a single image that spans the entire screen, it displays two identical images that have been offset to provide a different perspective for each eye. VR technology tricks the viewer’s brain into perceiving depth and accepting the illusion of a three-dimensional image.
How to Start a Career in Virtual Reality (VR) Development
To be able to create 3D environments alone will not suffice to become a good virtual reality developer. Companies and businesses looking to recruit virtual reality developers will look for a mix of skills such as software programming, 3D design, game development, video or sound production, and UI/UX. Depending on what the employer is looking for, there may be a slight or moderate difference in these. A career in AR/VR can be very financially rewarding, with average annual salaries of around $180,000. However, if you are considering a career change or are a college student, you may be wondering what skills you will need to acquire. Here are seven qualities that most hiring managers look for in individuals seeking to begin a career in AR/VR:
- A Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or a Related Field – While it is not absolutely required, a degree in computer science or a related field can help you enhance your resume and stand out from the crowd. It should be noted that a degree alone may not be sufficient. However, while a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient, pursuing a master’s or Ph.D. will improve your chances.
- Building Solutions Expertise – Whether you have a degree in computer science or have learned to code on your own through online learning platforms, it is critical that you gain experience with software development by working on a project or two. Building a portfolio of projects will help you improve your understanding of key industry concepts while also demonstrating what you have to offer to potential recruiters. You may decide to start small with simple projects, but don’t be afraid to try more difficult projects as you progress. Platforms such as GitHub can be extremely beneficial in terms of developing your portfolio.
- A Fundamental Understanding of Extended Reality – Extended Reality, also known as XR, encompasses all real-and-virtual world environments generated by computer graphics. It is also a catch-all term for augmented reality and virtual reality. Because the industry is governed by XR, it may be beneficial to have a basic understanding of the concepts and terminologies so that you can find ways to contribute.
- Understanding the Importance of a Positive User Experience Design – AR/VR environments frequently necessitate good design and usability solutions in order to be fully appreciated. Time and effort are required in the design process to ensure that users have a positive experience. A proper understanding of UI/UX, also known as User Interface and User Experience, can be very useful in designing efficient and comfortable AR/VR headsets for users to enjoy. As a result, factors such as usability, accessibility, and interactions should be prioritized.
- 3D Animation and Modeling Skills – Blender, Unity, and Unreal Engine are just a few examples of 3D software solutions that can be used to create Augmented and Virtual reality environments. You can use this software to create prototypes to show to potential employers or clients—this is very useful because some design concepts can be difficult to explain with just words or drawings.
- A Constantly Updating Perspective on Trends – It can be very beneficial to stay up to date on recent trends, regardless of the field you find yourself in. This can assist you in determining what is rapidly becoming obsolete as well as skills you may want to learn now or in the near future. Social media is a simple way to accomplish this. Users on platforms such as Twitter provide updates in fields such as augmented reality and virtual reality. By liking, commenting on, and sharing tweets about AR/VR, the algorithm that is designed to show you content that you prefer will most likely begin to display more information about AR/VR. Attending webinars may also be beneficial for gaining a more academic perspective on trends.