Virtual Reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. The first reference to this technology dates as far back as the 1860s. Since then more and more additions have been made to virtual reality. Today so much can be said about the evolution of virtual reality as well as the many ways it can now be applied to day-to-day activities.
What Really Is Virtual Reality?
The two types of virtual reality include immersive and test-based networked VR (also known as “Cyberspace”).
The immersive VR switches your view when you move your head. Distance learning is best with Cyberspace.
At the moment, virtual reality systems use either virtual reality headsets or multi-projected environments. This techniques generate realistic images, sounds, and other sensations. These devices simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual environment, although, virtual reality headsets are more utilized. It consists of a head-mounted display that allows the person using it to look around the artificial world, move around it, and interact with virtual features or items.
The headset has a small screen in front of the eyes, but simulation can also be created through specially designed rooms with multiple large screens. Virtual reality easily mixes auditory and video feedback, but may also allow other types of sensory & force feedback via haptic technology.
The Evolution Of Virtual Reality
From the 1400s
Since the mid-1400s, this technology has been in progress and today has more and more applications leading to a realistic success on the path of Virtual Reality. However, to understand where Virtual Reality is going is to equally understand where it is coming from. “Virtual means being something in essence or effect, though not actually in fact”. The term “virtual” then used in the computer sense of “not physically existing but made to appear by software” since 1959.
In 1938, French avant-garde playwright, (rejection of the status quo in favour of unique or original elements, and the idea of deliberately challenging or alienating audiences) Anonin Artaud, described the illusory nature of characters and objects in the theatre as “la realite virtuelle” in a collection of essays, Le theatre et son double.
The English translation of this book, published in 1958 as “The Theater and its Double”, became the earliest published use of the term “virtual reality”. Another term “artificial reality”, created by Myron Krueger adopted since the 1970s. The term became popular in media thanks to Jaron Lanier, who designed some of the first business-grade virtual reality hardware under his firm VPL Research. He created the 1992 film Lawnmower Ma, which featured the use of Virtual reality systems.
Now fast track to the 2000s. This is a period characterised by the public’s interest in using the technology as well as investors weighing their pockets, to see how to benefit from the commercial viability of Virtual Reality technology.
In 2001, SAS Cube (SAS3) became the first PC- based cubic room, developed by Z-A Production (Maurice Benayoun, David Nohan) Barco and Clarte. The room, then installed in Laval, France. Google introduced Street View, a service that shows panoramic views of an increasing number of worldwide positions such as roads, indoor buildings, and rural areas in 2007. It also features a stereoscopic mode, introduced in 2010.
In 2010, Palmer Luckey created the first prototype of the oculus rift, produced on an imitation technology of another virtual reality headset only capable of rotational tracking. His new virtual reality headset amongst other things boasted 90-degree field of vision that had never been seen by the public at that time. It was the invention of that year; never had the consumer market come across a headset so dynamic.
However, the headset had some distortion issues that disrupted usage. John Carmack corrected the mishap with a software he wrote for a version of doom 3.
This correction made the Oculus Rift indispensable and served as a basis for creating other designs. Carmack made the Rift public in 2012 at the E3 video game show. The big news came in 2014 when Facebook paid $2billion to purchase the Virtual Reality Headset but later came out to say the actual price paid for the technology was not $2billion but $3billion.
In 2013, Valve discovered and freely shared the breakthrough of low-persistence displays, which makes lag-free and smear-free display of Virtual Reality content possible. This advancement was put into Oculus, which made the headset even stronger and was once again used to design all future headsets.
In 2014, Sony announced “Project Morpheus” (the code name for PlayStation VR). It was a virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4 video game console.
In 2015 HTC and Valve announced a virtual reality headset, made in partnership and named HTCVive. The set included tracking technology called Lighthouse, which utilized wall-mounted “base stations” for positional tracking. The base stations used infrared light. Google also announced Cardboard, a do-it-yourself stereoscopic viewer. It’s an application where the user places their smartphones in the cardboard holder, which they wear on their head.
Google appointed its first-ever Resident Artist in their new Virtual Reality Division. That was when the campaign for Gloveone, a pair of gloves that provide motion tracking and haptic feedback, began. This project was successfully funded with $150,000. 2015 was a year of many Virtual deals as Razer also unveiled its open-source project OSVR (Open Source Virtual Reality)
By 2016, over 230 companies were developing Virtual Reality-related products. These companies included Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sony & Samsung. By 2017, SONY filed a patent showing that they were developing a similar location tracking technology to that of Vive for PlayStation, which was going to be focused mainly on developing a wireless headset. Oculus later released other versions of the famous headset, naming it Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest.
This headset again beat the others and featured inside-out tracking compared to external outside-in tracking seen in other headsets. In 2020 Oculus then again released Oculus Quest 2 including new features like sharper screens, & reduced price. This oculus had an increased general performance.
According to Grand View Research, the global Virtual Reality Market will grow to $62.1billion in 2027.
Applications of Virtual Reality
Virtual reality appears in,
- Entertainment (Video Games, movies)
- Education (Medical or military training)
- Businesses (Virtual meetings)
Although, this article does not focus on the application of Virtual Reality, it rather shows you where this technology started from. Much avancement sums up the evolution of virtual reality. This is a heads up of one technological trend you should not be sleeping on. Welcome to Virtual Reality.