What Does VR Stand For? And Why You Should Care
What in the world is VR?
Technology is rapidly improving. The concept of accelerating change shows us that each generation improves on the tech of the previous gen at a very fast rate. It doesn’t feel too long ago when we all just started playing video games through a monitor screen. Now, we can feel like we’re in a video game.
This is the new world of VR.
If you’re wondering what this new technological advancement is, and you’ve muttered, “What does VR stand for?” a few times already, this article will try to help you make sense of it all. We’ll tackle V/R meaning, how it works, and what it can do for the future. Strap in as we step into the world of VR.
So what does VR stand for? In its essence, VR means Virtual Reality. With the use of advanced computer technology, you can now experience simulated environments or virtual worlds.
With three-dimensional graphics, these simulations can make you interact with objects in this 3D world. So instead of viewing something through a screen in front of you, you get to turn around and flap your actual arms in this simulation. It makes you feel like you are in it. Cool, right?
But how does Virtual Reality work?
With the combination of VR software and hardware, simulation can become possible. Software for VR renders the virtual space and environment. Through VR hardware like VR headsets and controllers, you view and move in this 3D reality, and it tricks your eye and brain to feel like you’re in it.
Since our eyes are separate from each other, each eye actually sees different views. They are only ever so slightly different, since our eyes are three inches apart, but these views are still dissimilar. It is up to our brains to fuse these two slightly different images, make it make sense, and combine it to provide a sense of depth, also known as stereoscopic display.
Current VR technology tries to copy this. In VR headsets, instead of one image or view in a single screen, it gives you two slightly different perspectives, one for each eye. Your brain will then fuse these perspectives and make you see it with a sense of depth.
Every turn of your eyes and every movement you make will feel real if both the VR hardware and software are in harmony. The computer is now a medium to teleport you to different worlds.
While visuals are highly important in VR, audio is equally needed to sell the simulation. With proper binaural or spatial audio, a VR simulation can emulate how we experience our environment through audio. Sounds can come from different distances and sources, and can move from one position to another like in a three-dimensional space.
Apparently, we’re only scratching the surface with VR tech. There are actually three kinds of VR that show the vast potential of this new technology. They all provide different experiences at different levels of computer technology. Here are the three VR types:
Non-Immersive Virtual Reality
This is the most common form of VR at the moment. If you’ve seen video games utilize VR technology, you can categorize those as Non-Immersive VR. With this type, you are aware of the simulation and the physical environment you’re in. As such, your immersion is limited and the restrictions of your physical environment affect the simulation. Non-immersive Virtual Reality will need a console, like a computer or a video game device, a controller, and input devices like keyboards and mice.
Semi-Immersive Virtual Reality
This type of VR lets you experience a virtual environment, making you focus on the digital graphics and feeling like you’re in a different reality, while still being connected to your physical environment. With this VR, you experience realism through very convincing 3D graphics, also known as vertical reality depth.
What separates this from Non-Immersive Virtual Reality is that Semi-Immersive really needs more detailed graphics with functional mechanisms based on reality for improved immersion. This is an important aspect of it because this type of VR is often used for training or educational purposes, like how flight simulators can train student pilots.
Fully Immersive Virtual Reality
This level of Virtual Reality aims to make the simulation experience as realistic as possible. All of your senses, not just sight and sound, will be fully immersed. Its goal is to be the most realistic VR experience out of the three.
At the moment, our technology isn’t so advanced yet to make this possible. The technology isn’t there yet to make us fully immersed and make the simulation as believable as possible. For now, car racing games are going in the right direction for this kind of VR setup, since it can already provide the player the sensation of driving and at varying speeds.
But what will VR bring to our future?
If you’re impressed by what this technology can do now, wait till we’ve unlocked its full potential. With the pandemic, VR tech has helped keep certain social interactions alive in the digital world.
Currently, VR tech is highly connected to gaming. You can now simulate fighting with swords, mining ores, and even driving a spaceship.
For other sectors, VR shows promise. In education and training, VR is already used to train pilots through flight simulators. It can also be used in medic training, virtual boot camp in the military, and replicate other highly dangerous situations in a safe way. In classrooms, teachers can use it for virtual field trips and museum tours.
In businesses, stores can provide a VR catalog for their customers. Hotels can showcase their rooms for potential guests. Real estate agents can show you homes at the comfort of your own home.
A Reminder about Virtual Reality
With all the good that it brings, that doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides. Health problems and addiction from overusing VR can arise. As such, a sense of responsibility and moderation should be practiced.
Now knowing all the benefits we can get from VR, it’s understandable to be excited for this new tech. As long as we retain a sense of responsibility when using and developing it, this technology will propel our future into new heights.