VR Environment: What Is It and How Does It Work?

What is a Vitual Reality Environment

Virtual meaning near or proximate, virtual reality can loosely be defined as something near reality or to what we feel and experience. Basically a realm created beyond the scope of the real world via latest computer hardware and software technology is known as a virtual reality. A VR environment, on the other hand, is the overall computer-generated atmosphere created by this latest technology, amplifying characters, objects or situations to create a three-dimensional, more immersive experience.

How it works?

Virtual reality environments, much like video games, provide sensory stimulation in a closed sensory environment. By isolating the user from real-world sensations, it emulates the setting by duplicating not only the objects and faces that we see in everyday lives, but also audio feedback, motion, and movements as well as orientation mechanics. Moreover, it provides the illusion of a placement to another location by offering an enhanced display accompanied by other modalities.

The architecture of a VR environment consists of a high-tech computer, a human-computer interface in combination with one or more users which interact with and perceive the artificially created world.

Three basic types of hardware devices are used to create the illusion of a virtual environment for human interaction. They include a set of sensors, which help detect the user’s bodily movements, a set of effectors, which provide the stimulation necessary for immersion into a virtual world, and lastly any precisely developed piece of hardware that creates a connection between the sensors and the effectors.

This, connection in turn, produces an environment that bears an uncanny resemblance to the real world. These hardware devices are in turn are connected to explicitly designed software which monitors the shape of the actors and surrounding objects, the virtual interactions based on rules of kinematic rules of behavior as well as the characterizations.

A virtual reality environment focuses on each of the human senses. Sensory feedback to the user is provided numerous output devices which work in conjunction with input sensors. Graphic workstations are responsible for providing visual feedback while MIDI output provides the audio.  Some of the commonly used devices for immersive VR experiences include but are not limited to:

  •     Magnetic trackers
  •     Data Gloves
  •     MIDI keyboards
  •     Shutter Glasses
  •     Head-Mounted Displays
  •     CAVE

Types of Virtual Reality Environments

The cornerstone of Augmented as well as VR systems, virtual reality environments give the consumer a context preview of the experience they are about to have.

There are a number of different VR Environments. Tailor made with vastly different features; the various types give the users extremely diverse immersive experiences. As such, they are broadly categorized into four types. Each category is graded based on the level of immersion and perceptiveness it provides to the users. These four main categories are:

  •     Non-immersive
  •     Semi-immersive
  •     Completely Immersive
  •     Or Collaborative

Non-Immersive

Implementing the least amount of VR techniques, Non-immersive type uses the desktop system for viewing. By using a standard high-resolution monitor, along with conventional interactive tools such as keyboards, trackballs, or mice, Non Immersive systems are the most basic.

Viewed via a portal or window, non-immersive systems are perfect for casual use as they do not require any fancy hardware, nor any complex virtual reality environment in computer graphic performance. They can and are easily, and economically used on a regular high specification personal computers via a VR software.

Semi Immersive

Using slightly more complex VR technologies, a semi- immersive virtual reality environment or system is one of the latest of the lot. Providing a greater sense of immersion and presence than the non-immersive version, the perfect example of a semi-immersive type would be a flight simulator. A flight simulator with large projection screens and a great projection system and monitors allows the user to indulge partly in an immersive atmosphere but still be aware of real world surroundings.

Ease of use, cost and logistics are proving semi-immersive VR environment to far better than the fully immersive system. Another example of a system utilizing a semi-immersive type would be the use of Liquid Crystal Shutter Glasses.

Completely Immersive

VR systems that provide the most direct and encompassing experience are the fully immersive virtual reality environments. They are usually provided with the help of Head-Mounted Displays (HMD) or a head-coupled display for example Binocular Omni-Orientation Monitor (BOOM).

One of the main systems to provide a fully immersive experience is CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment). A multi-user, high-resolution video, and audio virtual environment, CAVE is a full room sized VR Device.  Projection setup which involves the user wearing a pair of head-mounted display, a fully immersive system is achieved by displaying two identical three dimensional images at very close range to the eye which the brain processes into one single image.

The CAVE records the user’s movements via a motion capture system which is viewed by the user through the head-mounted display. CAVE allows an individual to forgo completely the real world and submerge themselves within a computer-generated atmosphere by combining total VR immersion and actual interactions. What’s more, immersive systems such as CAVE also incorporate haptic interactions which is essentially adding a force feedback to the virtual experience. Various forms of movements are experienced by the user such as vibrations in a virtual reality environment accompanied by images/video and audio which work to enhance the overall immersive experience.

Collaborative

Another type that is becoming increasingly popular these days is a collaborative virtual environment. Allowing a number of people based at various locations to interact with one another in a similar space, collaborative system gives a group of individuals a collective experience. It is the collaborative system, which when accompanied by a mix of the real world fragments, is known as augmented reality environment.

VR and Its Importance for the Technological World

While VR involvement and use in video gaming industry is a well-known fact, these environments are highly applicable in all sorts of industries. They are continuously used for unusual, extremely challenging purposes. Some of the common uses include:

  •     In the military for battlefield or flight stimulation or medic training;
  •     In the education industry for e-learning purposes to tech-savvy children;
  •     In healthcare for virtual reality diagnostics, human simulation software, and virtual robotic surgery technology and phobia treatment;
  •     In business community for virtual tours, training purposes, and product enlisting and viewing along with using virtual environments as a means of cybernetic communication;
  •     In telecommunication for video conference and telemedicine.

Virtual Reality Growth and Industry Numbers

Virtual reality environments have the potential to penetrate majorly in all industry sectors for multitude of purposes. As this technology becomes increasingly recognized and utilized in military, education and healthcare various future prospects are realized.

According to a report published by Business Insider Intelligence Virtual reality headsets, will see an estimated growth of 99% from 2015 to 2020. The demand for VR sets will increase exponentially due to the prevalence of mobile and console gaming devices.

However, the prices for Virtual Reality sets are estimated to fall within the affordable electronics range in order to promote customer consumption. The costs are estimated to fall within the same category as smart-watches, a fact demonstrated by the set available accompanying the upcoming latest version of the Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile.

How to create a VR environment?

People believe that with the prevalence and easily availability of devices such as Oculus Rift and motion sensors, anyone can build a fully functional virtual reality system right in their living rooms. While you may be able to emulate the virtual experience somewhat, it’s highly unlikely that just adding camera rotations to an Oculus Rift tracker will work.

Creating a virtual environment is all about maintaining a perceptive presence. Home designed systems lack the hardware essential for creating the perfect illusion that is readily acceptable to the human mind. Latency and coherence are things that significantly affect the effectiveness of a virtual environment and achieving perfection is highly improbable in a home setting.

What can AppReal do for you?

Given the competitiveness in the business world and the need for a technologically driven business environment for a tech-savvy generation, being a part of any industry without collaborative technology is an extremely risky move.

Companies, health, entertainment, fashion and business sectors all need a virtual presence to accompany the physical one. AppReal is the force that will drive your VR startup into the high-tech bliss.

AppReal, a mobile and virtual reality development company, provides a highly proficient team of professionals that provide the solutions to all your virtual reality problems. Specializing in game development (both Unity and Unreal), image processing, speech recognition and design art, the virtual reality production team at AppReal custom builds virtual reality solutions for you.