What is Virtual Reality?
A site called explainthatstuff.com says that real reality is the world we live in.
Virtual reality then, is a world that we immerse ourselves in, with the use of technology. It is a collaborative, 3 dimensional world that is generated by technology but is one where you truly feel like you are experiencing everything around you. It feels real, but actually you are wearing a headset and maybe some gloves and are in a room, either precariously balancing on a beam or on a rollercoaster or something like that! Check out this video to see what we mean.
Credit: 360 VR Video
This requires hardware and software. The hardware you wear is a wraparound headset – it blocks out the real world completely – and a set of gloves. You also need a computer.
Some of the biggest headset makers: Oculus Rift (owned by Facebook), Morpheus VR (Sony Playstation), HTC Vive, and Google Cardboard.
The software creates the many worlds that are computer generated and can give you so many different experiences. The software interacts with the hardware and sensors so that you feel like you are actually flying or falling and completely experience the world that you are meant to be in.
How big is the market for VR? A report by Zion Market Research says that it was $2.62 billion in 2016 and that it will become close to $27 billion in 2022! Other reports have other numbers. It doesn’t really matter – the point is that people think it is going to be HUGE!
So what can we use this for?
Gaming: Of course it will be amazing to play games in Virtual Reality. Imagine being immersed in your Minecraft world, on the soccer field with Ronaldo, or battling Darth Vader and flying the Millenium Falcon! While gaming is one big application of VR, there are others that are very promising.
Training: to fly aircraft, drive race cars, and develop other skills that require training
Education: Why go to school or college? You can take lessons in VR! Of course you will miss out on hanging out with your friends and break time, so maybe just reserve it for those times you want to take a class that is offered in another country but you can’t make it all the way there?
Defense: simulating scenarios and training troops and machines on what to do in various circumstances.
Medicine: There are some very cool applications in the field of medicine. And this is supposed to become a big growth area for VR. Here are some of the things that VR companies are focusing on in medicine:
Surgery: there are companies that have designed software suites that allow doctors to put CT scans, X rays, and other images into the computer and then the software creates a 3D rendering of the body. For tricky procedures, the surgeons can then go ‘inside’ the body and decide what the best way to help the patient might be. They can then figure out a surgical path that has the least chance of harm and the best chance of care.
Medical students can also use this for training for difficult procedures.
There are also companies that have created software that can help patients to ease their pain. Burn victims or other people who are badly hurt can put these on while the doctors are tending to them, and be immersed in a world that distracts them from the pain. Experiencing something called SnowWorld which is set in ice, has been shown to dramatically reduce the amount of pain the patients are feeling!
Most of these applications are early in development and entrepreneurs are working closely with doctors to try and design the best solutions for patients.
Write to us and let us know what you think of all this and watch this space for more on VR.
Written by: Sunaina Murthy