It must have probably been every child’s and a star wars fan’s dream to go to space. Although this was considered to be a mere fantasy, tech geeks thought otherwise. If it was not possible for everyone to go to space, then why not bring it here? Right into our living rooms!! This is exactly what Virtual Reality tries to achieve.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a simulation of an environment that employs cutting-edge technology to give it life-like visuals. Although VR is still in it’s infancy, it has undergone a lot of significant developments since the 90s. In those days VRs were the size of an arcade machine. Their shot at VR was to display 3D images. Although this was a very basic version of VR which may not have been very appealing, it was commendable. Some may say that that was what gave birth to the VR as we know it today. A well known example being, “The Sensorama”.
A VR gear usually consists of a Head Mounted Display(HMD), VR gloves and other requisite sensors. A head mounted display consists of an HD screen, generally made of OLED panels, which delivers crystal clear and crisp images of the simulation.
Headsets: Our human eye perceives depth by comparing two slightly distinct images. A HMD uses the same concept and displays two slightly different images on the screen to produce a 3-D effect.
Gloves: A VR glove on the other hand works on the principle of optical fibers. Strands of optical fibres run through the gloves and light is passed through them which is sensed by a detector. Any twitch in our fingers produces a kink in the optical fiber which results in a decrease in the signal output. This is readily sensed by the detector and is fed to an external computer that adds an appropriate change to the simulation.
In some cases other sensory devices, such as a joystick, are used for optimizing the experience. For example, an infrared LED is used to track the position of a person in order to depict a corresponding change in the simulation.
A company by the name OCULUS is considered to be the torchbearer of VR technology today. This company’s most popular VR gadget named Oculus Rift is the most advanced VR gear until date. This company was bought by Facebook in 2014 for a whooping $2 billion. Numerous games are being developed based on this technology, which has increased it’s demand in the entertainment sector.
VR has had exponential growth in the recent times and it’s reach has gone beyond the entertainment sector. It’s roots have spread far and wide, finding applications in vaious professions. In the medical sector, it’s being used for pain and anxiety treatment. In the military, it is used to provide training and assistance.
A lot of investments have been made into this industry and a plethora of start-ups have emerged. Few decades ago, the idea of being able to shop for groceries and looking for maps on a handy device was absurd. Similarly VR may be a breakthrough for computer technology and it may happen even before we realize it. Virtual Reality may change the real world as we know it!!