It hasn’t been long since the virtual reality (VR) technology market was officially launched, but it has been quickly embraced by different industrial sectors such as retail, aviation, manufacturing, medical, military and education – not only for its cost-effectiveness and efficiency in training solutions but also because of the immense potential it offers in research and development. The tech companies are hard-bent upon realizing the full potential of this technology, but even so the VR is still in its initial developmental stages.
An artificial, computer-generated receptive environment that immerses the user by projecting three-dimensional images simulating life-sized appearance from the perspective of the user, and employing the ability to track user’s motions, particularly the head and eye movements, to adjust the changes in the visual field accordingly. The technology is immediately adaptable to the challenges in education as well as training and development. But it grows from there into all the areas of development from research to design to final accomplishment, capable of changing the way people and businesses learn, work and interact, very soon.
History of vr technology
Admittedly, one of the hottest technologies today, Virtual Reality is certainly not a new concept. The notion of an illusive theater space with characters and objects, goes back generations when it was first mentioned in 1938 by a playwright Antonin Artaud in a series of essays as “la realite virtuelle”. Later translated in English in 1958, the essay series was called “The Theater and its Double”, marking the first published use of the term “virtual reality” (link).
However, the real work on this technology began much later and the first multimedia device was actually invented in 1957 (as per the Virtual Reality Society) for an interactive theater experience, called Sensorama. This interactive theater involved the use of a viewing screen that displayed stereoscopic images within an enclosed booth, audio output and devices that emitted smells. By 1968, VR technology featured a head-mounted display connected to a computer. Being extremely heavy, the head-mounted gear had to be attached to a suspension device.
1980s brought the use of VR in NASA projects and in research meant to explore new alleyways for human-computer interaction. The research and development in virtual reality continued through the 1990s but did not come to much fruition resulting in lost interest for lack of any practical advancements in the technology. However, during the previous decade the interest in VR technology saw a revival, and the introduction of the first prototype of the Oculus Rift prompted it even further. Not much later, the next-generation game developer Valve introduced their low-persistence displays in 2013, featuring a lag-free experience and smear-free display for consuming VR content.
The last few years have seen some major developments in the VR technology with significant focus on high-quality imaging, tracking enablement, low latency, high resolution, light-weight gear, and reduced cost. Today the technology has become much more immersive in nature offering close-to-reality experience. Although, the researchers keep pursuing the development of more and more lifelike simulations capable of offering increasingly realistic visuals and better user experiences.
VR technology Milestones in the year 2017
Although the modern developments in VR technology have claimed several years for it to take its current form, 2017 has been the real breakthrough year for VR. This is so because it was during this year that VR has attained prominence as a true revolutionary technology, and has found its role across different industries on much more wider scale than ever before.
Let us look at what VR technology looks like today and how it is changing the way people and businesses experience virtual space.
The virtual space has become much more lifelike offering an extremely realistic experience due to low latency, high-end visuals and greater interactivity. The virtual experience is purpose-bound towards achieving touch as well as smell sensations.
Light Weight Equipment
The modern VR headgear is much lighter in weight compared to its initial versions and easier to operate. However, the companies are working on making them even lighter for the users’ comfort.
The cost of the actual VR gear has significantly come down making it expansively available for commercial use. However, due to the added cost of the powerful computing systems, the overall cost of the equipment is somewhat high. But the major tech companies are working on fully operational all-in-one VR systems that will further bring down the costs to a few hundred dollars within next few years.
This is kind of a packaged deal having the most high-tech processors for a smooth, hiccup free digitally generated environment. The high-resolution imagery, with the top-notch sensors and audio devices, it is essential to have first-rate computing power and processing capabilities for the new powerful hardware and software.
VR shopping experience
The retail sector has come forward to really embrace the VR technology offering virtual shopping experiences to customers. This has gone on from virtually test-driving cars to walking about shopping malls into real estate sector to look at desired properties.
The first ever Virtual Reality Cinema opened its doors to the public this year in Amsterdam, introducing 360-degree cinematic displays, a new age for the cinema experience.
As the research and development in VR technology is making headways, the big tech companies are finding it necessary to form more strategic alliances in order to share their expertise and knowledge with one another and come up with improved solutions and better offerings.
VR has always been associated to the gaming industry more than any other sector. The game developers have surely put new edge into gaming by combining the competitive and somatic nature of traditional sports and integrating it into the digital realm.
The thing about VR technology is that it offers a completely different reality from one’s own physical environment where they are able to interact with objects and simulated space without the fear of any harm or damage. It even offers experiences that are either not physically possible like walking under water or on the surface of Mars. Or relive historical moments or explore remote places without having to travel. As much as the VR reality offers today, we have only scratched the tip of the iceberg. Time will only tell what more avenues lay unexplored below the surface. But for now, we can’t wait for the latest developments to come through that we have discussed so that the VR technology will become more accessible for everyone, everywhere.