What is Virtual Reality?

“Why shouldn’t people be able to teleport wherever they want” – Palmer Luckey

Virtual Reality (VR) is the greatest performance of illusion known to man. Knowing the science behind it takes nothing from the enjoyment of it’s magic. Transported into a digital world that you can physically interact with, the only limit to what can be done is imagination. Jaron Lanier, one of the early pioneers of VR said “VR is a cross between cinema, jazz and programming”. It is easy to see how the form of VR entertainment and art can excites it’s users in a radical way.

Father of Virtual Reality,
Jaron Lanier
Virtual Reality Hardware

Virtual reality is experienced through a headset, in a way we perceive as natural. Images are shown stereoscopically to each eye through lens. The lens are adjusted for the individual user, before the computer processes the images separately for each eye. The end result leaves us standing in a digital recreation of times square, or on the ocean floor.

Early VR,
3D Viewmaster

Virtual Interaction

 The 3D viewmasters of old projected a fixed image. The way we interact with VR is a huge part of what makes it so special. VR uses your own moving gaze to change what you can see. Since these persistent environments mimic the way we see the physical world, we believe in VR more deeply. Holding a connection with your audience is nothing new, game or movie directors strive for this already, but VR offers the most gripping stage to do that from. For more on this read our Q & A with our head of new technologies, Peter Caddock.

Our sense of touch has merged with technology in recent years. It’s use within VR is a core sense that weaves the experience. Wireless controllers track hand positioning, motion and offer button interfaces. Most experiences and games allow you to reach out and interact with the world to make physical changes. Although not a consumer norm yet the use of a haptic glove matching the movements of the human hand identically is already in development.

Virtual Reality Haptics,
Finch Haptic Gloves
The Future of VR

Virtual Reality is developing fast in the areas relating to the human experience. You can already see products appearing, some even for the consumer market. These include smell, motion mapping, taste, audio and even refinements like depth perception and eye tracking. While sense driven technology shapes the way we interact with the digital world, the future will seem ever closer.

Technology, humanity and Virtual Reality are a powerful combination. In conclusion we are on the verge of a social and technological revolution, something that may be akin to the internet, computers or the mobile.

By Joe Turner-McMullan