What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality is the next big thing. It is a technology on which companies like Facebook, Google, and Samsung, are betting big. These companies are so much excited about it, that they have invested billions into it.
What is VR really?
Virtual Reality is the computer simulation of a virtual three-dimensional environment, which a person interacts with. This is done by employing the use of high-definition displays, along with a good processor. The high definition displays and processors may be of the smartphone itself. The processor processes the video, and relay it to the display. All of them are assembled in a way, that the person interacting with the virtual reality does not feels his real environment. The user thinks that he is in a different environment, or reality, hence the term virtual reality.
To make the user feel that he is actually in the virtual environment, view of the real environment must be blocked. This is achieved by allowing only the virtual environment to be seen by the user, and blocking the view of his real surroundings.
Is Virtual Reality a new thing?
Virtual reality is not a new thing and people have been trying to make virtual reality devices as early as 1939 with products such as View-Master. View-Master consisted of thin cardboard disks, containing seven stereoscopic 3-D pairs of small photographs on film. Although View-Master of 1939, is nothing compared to present day virtual reality devices such as Oculus, they are working constantly, and their latest version is based on the Google Cardboard.
Present day VR devices look better than their older counterparts and are much more sophisticated. Virtual reality helmets have been in military use for a long time, but their civilian siblings came into mass attention only after Oculus VR. Oculus created a stir in the market when it attracted $2,437,429 on Kickstarter, even when the amount intended to raise was a mere $250,000. On March 25, 2014, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion.
Even before the arrival of Oculus, there were many companies working on VR devices but didn’t get mass attention. One of them being Virtual Boy by Nintendo. Soon after Oculus’s successful Kickstarter campaign got worldwide attention, many companies followed forayed into VR. Sony announced their PlayStation VR, HTC their HTC Vive and recently Google their Cardboard.
Some Popular VR Devices
Oculus Rift is the ultimate show-stopper, not only because it is the most technologically sophisticated, but because it started the buzz around VR devices. Rift works only after being connected with a Windows Computer. It has two OLED screens i.e. one for each eye. It has a range of sensors which help in position tracking. The integrated earpiece provides 3D audio effect. You can check whether your Windows computer is compatible with Oculus Rift using this software.
Sony PlayStation VR is specifically designed for use with PS4. It has a single 5.7 inch OLED screen. It also is equipped with a range of sensors to help in position tracking, but you still need the PlayStation camera for it to work. PlayStation VR does not have any integrated earpiece, so that needs to be plugged in separately.
HTC Vive is a product of a partnership between Valve Corporation and HTC. It has two inbuilt screens. HTC Vive has 32 sensors embedded on the headset for tracking. It requires being connected to a computer in order to work. HTC is working on a new VR headset which would not need a computer to work.
Samsung Gear VR is a product of the partnership between Oculus and Samsung. It does not feature its own display, rather it uses the display of the smartphone it is connected with. It is compatible with Samsung Galaxy S6 and upper models, and Galaxy Note 5.
Google Daydream is the latest in all the VR devices mentioned here. It needs to be connected with a Daydream ready smartphone to work. Here is a list of Daydream ready smartphones.
Google Cardboard is a framework developed by Google, which surely needs a mention here. It states some guidelines and specifications, using which a VR viewer can be made. They also provide a downloadable kit, which anyone can download, print and cut, to get an affordable VR experience. Otherwise, ready made Google Cardboard is also available for sale here.
All of these VR devices have additional accessories, which can be used in conjunction to further augment the VR experience.
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