Virtual Reality Technology

Virtual reality (VR) proves to be one of the fastest-growing technological trends of the modern era.

And for good reason. From retail to gaming, virtual reality technology has changed the outlook for several businesses across a variety of industries. Additionally, as virtual reality continues to grow more advanced, researchers are beginning to incorporate it into other fields—such as education and training.

Below, we’ll take a look at the gripping history of VR, as well as see how modern-day innovations have made it a powerful force in the global market.

Best VR Headsets - Experience Virtual Reality Headsets

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VR Examples for Consumer Games

With the advent of more developed and realistic virtual reality systems, the demand for more immersive virtual reality gaming has risen. Virtual reality gaming began in the early 1990s—to what many industry critics have noted was quite the rough start.

After the flop of SEGA’s highly-touted VR glasses in 1993—a product that could never seem to get off the ground—Nintendo watched its own Virtual Boy console fall widely short of expected demand. In part, both products failed because they lacked true VR capabilities. These setbacks seemed to write a clear message: the public was not yet sold on the feasibility of VR gaming.

It would take another two decades before VR gaming saw its renaissance. Today, many bill VR gaming as the “next generation” of the gaming experience. Products such as the has become a popular tool in therapy, the HTC Vive, and the Sony PlayStation VR have come to dominate the VR gaming market.

In general, VR gaming follows along two lines: mobile and tethered. The least expensive of the two options, mobile sets allow consumers to turn their phones into VR gaming devices with the use of special lenses.

VR Headsets - Virtual Reality Technology
VR Headsets

While these devices are relatively cheap and mark a significant improvement over many traditional VR gaming systems, they generally lack the image quality and depth of tethered VR devices. These devices use headsets that can be connected to consumers’ PCs via cable and are generally considered more high-end options.

But what’s the future of VR gaming? According to VP of research at the Consumer Technology Association Steve Koenig, VR systems may soon become so powerful that consumers could choose simulated virtual realities over their current physical ones. With the next cycle of VR gaming set to start, it’s interesting to mark how far VR gaming has come—and how far it could go in the very near future.

Virtual Reality Technology History

As the Franklin Institute notes, the pioneering concepts of VR can be traced as far back as the 1800s. However, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that VR as we think of it today came into existence.

It was then that Morton Heilig designed the Sensorama. This 1956 device allowed users to feel as though they were riding a bicycle through an urban cityscape. Using the skills he had learned in the movie industry, Heilig designed the device so that users could experience a variety of different senses—including sight, sound, and even touch.

Though revolutionary for its time, the Sensorama pales in comparison to the VR technology of today. These rapid technological developments may be traced back to the 1980s, when the term “virtual reality” was first coined and popularized.

With NASA entering the VR-development foray in the 1980s, the field saw a technological explosion. Now, VR technology has become so advanced that it has found uses in fields from business to education and even to healthcare.

Virtual Reality Technology

So, how advanced is VR technology? Can it really make you feel as if you’re in a different world?

Yes and no.

Though there’s no denying the popularity of current Virtual Reality headsets—such as the Oculus Quest—the technology hasn’t yet entered a stage of photorealism.

This didn’t stop Virtual Reality headset companies from selling nearly 1 billion devices in 2016, however. Additionally, as reported by The Sun, some of the developers behind these amazing VR headsets believe that humans will soon live in a VR world.

That’s right—as reported, Roy Tayler, Vice President of AMD stated his belief that VR will soon be so advanced that humans will choose to live in a virtual world. AMD currently makes chips that run both popular PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

Currently, VR technology has become so advanced that humans can now interact with virtual worlds. This technology can be classified under three main categories:

  • Neural Direct
  • Non-Immersive
  • Sensory-Immersive

It’s perhaps the case that when most individuals imagine VR, they’re thinking of sensory-immersive technology. This technology uses computer-simulated worlds to create a virtual illusion that appeals to one or more of a person’s senses. As VR technology advances, it’s also likely that sensory-immersive VR will receive the most attention, as researchers look to capitalize on its benefits to a variety of different markets.

As we’ll see, VR technology has already become an integral part to several different markets. With the use of VR technology on the rise, consistent research and development may soon make it more advanced that most consumers realize.

Virtual Reality Applications

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the many different applications of VR. Keep in mind that this list is neither exhaustive nor static. Indeed, as VR technology continues to grow, it’s likely the case that it will continue to have a growing number of applications across a widening range of industries and fields.

For now, the main applications of VR can be classified into the following categories below.

  • Gaming

Perhaps most notably, VR has become widespread in gaming, and gaming accessories.

VR devices have become commonplace and can be bought at retailers across the country—including local Walmart Supercenters.

Notably, however, not all VR is created the same.

High-end consoles such as the Oculus Rift provide a powerful 3D immersive experience for users. Of course, these consoles come at quite the hefty price. Those willing to pay it are introduced into several different virtual worlds and games that offer players a full VR experience.

These immersive games are responsive to players’ feedback, making them entirely interactive. With giants like Microsoft, HTC, and Samsung also competing in the VR market, the field of VR gaming looks to see an explosion over the coming decade.

  • Robotics

Both VR and augmented reality have become a large part of the robotics industry.

VR, in particular, has become a common way to improve robot control, allowing humans to better handle drones and other devices. This has important applications in a variety of fields, most notably for military uses.

Through the use of VR, drone operators can now use devices with greater precision, making military schemes both more humane and effective.

  • Therapy

Importantly, VR has become a popular tool in therapy.

Used properly, VR can safely expose patients to triggers and other negative stimuli. This often proves one of the most powerful treatment methods for some conditions. Now, this treatment can be safely carried out in front of a trained medical professional.

This provides for safer and more effective treatment alternatives. By being able to address their fears and triggers in real time with a medical professional, patients can receive powerful boosts to their mental health.

  • Medical Training

Finally, VR has become a popular tool in education—though some of its best educational uses have been in the medical field.

Some have even called the incorporation of VR into medical training a revolution. One of the major ways that VR has changed the face of medical training is that it’s providing safer avenues for students to practice and carry out medical procedures.

And not only that. This technology also gives them the ability to practice with more confidence, allowing them to better develop the skills needed to perform on human patients.

Of course, VR training doesn’t replace more traditional methods, but the continued use of innovative VR techniques in the healthcare field may lead to better-trained professionals.

Currently, this VR medical training covers a variety of fields from surgery to dentistry. As it continues to grow and develop, students can expect to see an even bigger shift in medical training methods.

VR Examples for Business

Virtual reality offers many benefits for businesses in a variety of industries. As VR technology continues to develop, businesses are increasingly turning to VR systems to not only provide customers with a more interactive experience, but also to streamline design and manufacturing processes while increasing efficiency and turning more profits. Other businesses have turned to virtual reality to develop effective marketing schemes that target wider demographics and generate higher sales. Knowing this, let’s take a look at some of the specific business fields that employ VR.

  • Retail

Over the last decade, retailers have turned to virtual reality to offer a more positive consumer experience and to increase customer sales. Of note, retail giant IKEA launched its own virtual reality app in 2016. Dubbed the Virtual Reality Kitchen Experience, the tool allows consumers to virtually walk through kitchens to find the one they want for their homes.

Virtual reality offers retailers other benefits, as well. In the coming years, major retailers expect to have VR headsets that allow consumers to shop from home. These headsets seek to combine the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience with modern-day e-commerce and look to have significant ramifications for the retail market.

  • Manufacturing

Virtual reality is quickly shaping the way manufacturers do business. A recent PwC survey found that one in three manufacturers have already adopted virtual reality systems or plan on doing so in the next three years. This statistic sheds light on the growing desire for manufacturing industries to increase business efficiency through simulated reality.

Currently, many businesses use VR to test the viability of prototypes and designs. This can be seen in companies such as Airbus, which develop high-powered VR systems to simulate, alter, and correct potential product designs. Specifically, the company’s RAMSIS (Realistic Anthropological Mathematical System) is used to design airspace cabins convenient and safe for passengers.

  • Construction

Perhaps no field has benefited more tangibly from virtual reality than construction. Today, architects are able to virtually simulate their designs and blueprints before construction begins, allowing them to iron out potential pitfalls and fix any mistakes in their designs. Certain brands such as IrisVR provide construction firms with high-quality 3D technology that can reduce construction expenditures and rework through virtual simulations.

Furthermore, many construction firms and architects have turned to VR to build portfolios that can be used to win over potential clients. In addition to this, VR offers a tool with which architects and designers can provide clients and collaborators with a powerful rendering of their expected work. For this reason, VR looks to streamline the construction industry in the coming years.

In addition to this, VR training provides construction firms with more efficient training methods that can better equip workers for the job ahead. Because of this, a growing number of construction firms have begun to capitalize on VR training.

  • Business Marketing

Traditional brick-and-mortar or print-based businesses have turned to visual reality as a valuable marketing tool in the digital age. The goal is simple—to modernize their advertising and attract a younger, broader client base.

Perhaps the best example of this is the New York Times. Recently, the newspaper launched its own VR system, NYTVR (New York Times Virtual Reality). This system, available on smartphones, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR, allows readers to walk through visual “stories” of current breaking news. With an entire library of VR experiences, the newspaper seeks to use the program as a prime marketing tool for a younger demographic.

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VR offers businesses and consumers a different way to experience reality. This guide about VR and The Best VR Headsets – Experience Virtual Reality Headsets is just the beginning in VR technology.

Over the past several decades, advances in VR technology have led to an explosion of benefits for businesses in a variety of fields. With high-powered virtual reality, businesses now have the ability to streamline manufacturing, reduce operational inefficiencies, grow their marketing campaigns, and interact with a wide client base. Additionally, VR has been increasingly adopted by medical and professional fields as a form of student and employee training.

On the consumer end, VR offers a new way to shop—and a new way to game. With virtual reality systems only looking to get better in the coming years, consumers are living in the golden era of VR technology.

And they’re loving every minute of it.  

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