People have been envisaging virtual reality (VR) for decades, but 2016 is seen as the big year of all-round affordable and available VR products. These gadgets are more transforming than ever before as they aim to create a whole new, imaginary world. Actually, it may not even be imaginary, it can be based on a real place. You can be living in Berlin and you friend in Tokyo, but you can look them straight in the eyes and offer to go watch a movie in New York City.
Now, we are far away from the Matrix coming to life, but the first VR products are available to the general public. With companies like Google, Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung and HTC working on them, it looks like VR is here to stay. So, let us take a look at what VR has to offer.
Samsung Gear VR Headset Demo at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2016/ © Teletrader
All new VR devices use a head-mounted display (HMD). The idea behind the headset is not to let any light from the real world in, in order to receive only the VR image. Just think of it as a little box you put in front of your eyes, or even better: really bulky sunglasses. However, these are only the first models up for sale to the masses. Remember the first computers or the first cell phones?
“What we want to do is we want to get down to sunglasses.” – Oculus Mobile’s Max Cohen
Anyhow, smaller VR devices are far away from becoming reality (this real reality; they can always make them up in the virtual one, it shouldn’t be too difficult).
Currently, VR equipment is available from a few companies:
HTC and Valve teamed up to create Vive, what HTC calls the first VR headset that allows a 360-degree view of an area. Samsung announced everyone who preorders its Galaxy S7 will get the company’s Gear VR. However, Samsung did not build its own software, but rather teamed up with Oculus. Speaking of which, the Oculus Rift is a VR headset that boasts with having a remote and a game controller to fully experience some imaginary world out there. You can even hold a cup!
Sony’s Playstation VR, developed for Playstation 4 will focus on the console’s games, with Sony promising as many as 50 available from the start. The company also claims that Playstation VR may be available for PC in the future.
Keeping it simple: Google Cardboard
Meanwhile, Google came up with Google Cardboard. So far, it seems like the cheapest and most DIY way of getting a glimpse of the VR world. It can be made just out of cardboard to eliminate all light and you can enjoy VR from your mobile phone.
So, most VR headsets are primarily advertised as perfect for games, but that is not all they are. Facebook is seriously looking into taking social networks to the next level with VR – that is also why they went ahead and bought Oculus, a pioneer in the industry.
VR can also have very important uses in the military or in the field of medicine. For example, military exercises can be carried out in VR and who knows, maybe someday we will even learn to fight wars virtually. The United States army already uses some VR concepts in its work.
A VR parachuting military exercise
VR can be used in medicine to help post-traumatic stress-disorder or patients with phobias. It can also assist the disabled, be used for meditation, help young adults with autism with their social skills and even be used for surgical training.
Meanwhile, interesting apps coming to mobile VR are: Anshar Wars 2, from OZWE Games. Movement in the game is controlled by the head and you can shoot to save the empire with a touchpad. Likewise, an app called Sisters involves a horror story for an individual to be part of.
Moreover, two apps are in charge of social networking in VR: AltspaceVR and vTime. These two enable people to meet up in VR and do all sorts of things together.
The field of VR is ready to develop even further and its uses are many. Some are possibly yet to be discovered. Meanwhile, its dangers can be discussed on another occasion.