Virtual reality technologies have appeared recently, the terminology has not yet settled. For example, “Financial Dictionary” gives the following definition:
Virtual reality (VR) is a highly developed form of computer simulation that allows the user to immerse himself in the artificial world and act directly in it with the help of special touch devices that link his movements with audiovisual effects. In this case, the user’s visual, auditory, tactile, and motor sensations are replaced by their imitation, generated by a computer.
Characteristic features of virtual reality are:
- real time simulation
- imitation of the environment with a high degree of realism
- The ability to influence the environment and have feedback
Wikipedia adds: “Do not confuse virtual reality (VR) with augmented. Their main difference is that the virtual creates a new artificial world, and augmented reality (AR) only introduces certain artificial elements into the perception of the real world. ”
Consider devices that mimic the user’s perception in the order they are mentioned in the above definition.
Visual sensations are most often created with the help of virtual reality helmets. The first devices of this kind really looked like helmets, they were bulky and heavy. But as technology developed, it became easier and faster, and now they are increasingly called “headsets …” or simply “virtual reality glasses”. They work like this: on the display in front of the user’s eyes, the video is displayed in 3D. Attached to the body of the gyroscope and accelerometer monitor the turns of the head and transmit data to the computing system, which changes the image on the display, depending on the readings of the sensors.
VR glasses can be divided into three groups:
Points in which the processing and image output is provided by a smartphone (Android, iPhone, Windows Phone). Almost every smartphone is equipped with sensors that allow to determine the position of the device in space.
Points in which image processing is provided by an external device (PC, Xbox, PlayStation, etc.). The external device must be high-performance, and the glasses are equipped with position sensors.
Standalone VR glasses that independently process and display three-dimensional images (Lenovo Mirage Solo, with Google, Oculus Quest from Facebook, Samsung Gear VR, etc.)
Visual sensations can also be created by using a mechanism of perception of the volume, like parallax (motion parallax), i.e. using MotionParallax3D displays. To do this, at each time point for the viewer, based on its position relative to the screen, the corresponding projection of a three-dimensional object is generated. Moving around the scene, the user can inspect it from different sides. These devices, as a rule, provide incomplete immersion, since they are reproduced on displays and do not isolate the user from the environment. The exception is virtual reality rooms (CAVE, cave automatic virtual environment). In such rooms, a stereoscopic image is projected onto each wall, calculated for a specific point where the user is located. As a result, such an image surrounds the person from all sides.
Auditory sensations are created using a stereo or multi-channel speaker system. Such systems allow localization of the sound source, so that the user can navigate the virtual world using hearing.
Tactile sensations are created with the help of virtual reality gloves (information gloves, datagloves). Modern ultra-lightweight gloves (weighing less than 8 grams per finger and 2 mm thick) provide extremely realistic tactile feedback.
Motor (motor) sensations are created with the help of tracking systems that track human body movements in order to repeat them in the virtual world. Such tracking can be carried out with the help of special sensors or a video camera.
Smells and taste sensations. Work on the synthesis of odors has been going on for more than a year, but it’s still far from wide use of the results. About any significant achievements in the transfer of taste sensations can not speak at all. Apparently, this is why these sensations were not included in the definition given in the Financial Dictionary.
The most complete immersion in virtual reality can provide a suit VR. It should track the change in the position of the user’s entire body and transmit not only motor and tactile sensations, but also temperature and vibration, and in combination with a helmet, visual and auditory sensations.
Analysts at Gartner and IDC believe that VR / AR is approaching technological maturity. That is, very soon, virtual reality will become part of everyday life. Technologically everything is ready for its mass use.