Immersive Intelligence Beyond Imagination - The Imminent Reality of VR

Sunil Raj
Sunil Raj
Jun 8 · 9 min read

Introduction:

Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. By simulating as many senses as possible, such as vision, hearing, touch, even smell, the computer is transformed into an artificial world.

The only limits to near-real VR experiences are the availability of content and cheap computing power. Virtual Reality creates an artificial environment to inhabit. However, rather than locating a real camera within a physical environment, the position of the user’s eyes is located within the simulated environment. The illusion of being there (telepresence) is effected by motion sensors that pick up the user’s movements and adjust the view on the screen accordingly, usually in real time.

VR is a computer interface which tries to mimic the real world beyond the flat monitor to give an immersive 3D (Three Dimension) visual experiences. Often it is hard to reconstruct the scales and distances between objects in static 2D images. Thus, the third dimension helps to bring depth to objects.

  • Putting it another way, VR is essential:
  • Believable
  • Interactive
  • Computer-generated
  • Explorable
  • Immersive

How it’s used?

The 3D visualization component enables the user to see 3D scenarios by using a display methodology like a head-mounted device. Typically, the 3D images superimpose the real environment by using one of the displays, screen-based or projection based. The screen-based virtual environment generally uses a high-quality display screen in terms of resolution and color, or a head-mounted device along with the sound system as output devices. A keyboard, microphone, head tracking sensors, finger trackers, gesture recognition system, a joystick or similar gears are used as input devices. When the user moves the gear or joystick, make the move of the head, or press any key on the keyboard, the objects of the screen are changes accordingly in a way that user feels if he/she is directly controlling the objects and environments on the screen.

A high-speed powerful processor processes the inputs. An Application Programming Interface (API) provides the interface to the input devices connected to the system as well as to standard devices like mouse and keyboard. The timings and relationship between input and output devices are so perfect that the user feels an immersion with the virtual environment.

Every headset aims to perfect their approach to creating an immersive 3D environment. Each VR headset puts up a screen in front of eyes thus, eliminating any interaction with the real world. For immersion to be effective, a user must be able to explore what appears to be a life-sized virtual environment and be able to change perspectives seamlessly

Essentials:

  • Head Mounted Display: The most commonly used hardware equipment in virtual reality technology is HMD which render the virtual environment in front of the eyes. An HMD provides full-color quality viewing with clear, vivid graphics and stunning imagery. They have integrated headphones to deliver the full stereo surround sounds
  • CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment): It is an immersive VE system projects images on the walls, floor, and ceiling of a room. It generally uses multiple cameras and a projection screen in an enclosed room to make felt users that they are surrounded by a virtual environment
  • Immersion: Virtual reality immersion is the perception of being physically present in a non-physical world
  • Fully Immersive: High-immersive virtual environments (HIVE) which are enclosed boxes or head-mounted displays (HMD) projecting images on multiple interior screens, or specialized displays in a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment. Fully immersive VR creates an almost entirely digital environment to explore
  • Semi-immersive: Semi-immersive simulations provide a more immersive experience, in which the user is partly but not fully immersed in a virtual environment. Semi-immersive simulations closely resemble and utilize many of the same technologies found in flight simulation
  • Non-immersive: Low-immersive virtual environments (LIVE) which are computer screen-based renderings of real environments or virtual worlds, where users interact through avatars embodying their virtual selves. Non-immersive simulations are the least immersive implementation of virtual reality technology. In a non-immersive simulation, only a subset of the user’s senses is stimulated, allowing for peripheral awareness of the reality outside the virtual reality simulation
  • Field of View: Simply put, the field of view refers to how wide the picture is. Field of view is measured based on the degree of display (e.g. 360°). It also provides a realistic perception of the environment landscape
  • Frame Rate: The higher the frame rate, the better the immersion, so the goal here is frequently 60 FPS to 120 FPS and powerful hardware to back its upFrame rate refers to the frequency (rate) at which the display screen shows consecutive images, which are also called frames. The more the field of view and frame rate the better the immersive experience
  • Latency: Latency can also the thought of as a delay, and is measured in milliseconds (ms). In order for an experience to feel real, latency usually needs to be in the range of 20 milliseconds (ms) or less. Low latency is needed to make the human brain accept the virtual environment as real
  • Feeds: Content feeds are supplied by hardware, typically the hardware in a computer, console, or phone
  • Controls: Very simple VR headsets allow basic exploration and interaction with a few buttons located on the headset
  • Displays: The display is where the VR image is pushed out to your eyeballs. In the old days, two separate displays, one for each eye, were included in the goggles. VR headsets use either two feeds sent to one display or two LCD displays, one per eye
  • Lenses: Many headsets include lenses that help focus your eyes on a screen so that it appears you are looking into a real environment. This is what allows VR to work on single screens as smartphones have
  • Head Tracking: For VR to work properly, when you move your head up and down or side to side or tilt you hear, the picture has to move properly with your head. There are a couple of different components used in a head-tracking system, including a gyroscope, accelerometer, and a magnetometer
  • Motion Tracking: Motion tracking is the way in which you view and interact with your own body (e.g. hands, movements, etc). One of the most natural motion-related acts is to want to be able to see your own hands (virtually) in front of you
  • Eye Tracking: Eye tracking involves tracking the human eyes via an infrared sensor that monitors your eye the movement inside the headset. Without eye tracking, everything remains in focus as you move your eyes — but not your head — around a scene, thus causing a greater likeliness of simulation sickness
  • Data gloves: See something amazing and your natural instinct is to reach out and touch it — even babies do that. Other gloves use strain gauges, piezoelectric sensors, or electromechanical devices to measure the finger movements
  • Wands: Even simpler than a data glove, a wand is a stick you can use to touch, point to, or otherwise, interact with a virtual world
  • Audio: Audio is either supplied as part of the content feed in the headset itself or as a separate feed that uses an additional speaker headset that you need to wear. By using a headphone and 3D sound effects the user’s belief in the virtual environment can be reassured
  • Asynchronous Time Warp (ATW): It is a technique for achieving a balance between what your GPU can render and what your display needs to show by inserting intermediary frames in situations where the game or application can’t sustain the frame rate. The “warp” is the actual adjustment process. Timewarp on its own warps or adjusts the image before sending it to the display by correcting for head motion that occurred just after the scene was created in the rendering thread
  • Virtual World: A virtual world is a three-dimensional environment that is often, but not necessarily, realized through a medium (i.e. rendering, display, etc.) where one can interact with others and create objects as part of that interaction. In a virtual world, visual perspectives are responsive to changes in movement and interactions mimic those experienced in the real world
  • Magnetometer: The magnetometer acts as a sort of compass for the device
  • Accelerometers: The accelerometer tells your device which way up it is
  • Gyroscopes: A gyroscope calculates the orientation of your device
  • Degrees of freedom: For the full six degrees of freedom, or “6DOF,” you need either external sensors that track your headset in space via or a headset with outward-facing visual sensors that allow it to extrapolate its own position
  • Screen door effect: No matter how good a display’s resolution, having it 2 inches in front of your eyes means you’re gonna see pixels — and what’s even more distracting for some people is the dark space between pixels, which can give the effect of peering through a fine mesh
  • Simulator sickness: When what you’re seeing doesn’t match up with what your inner ears are feeling — often due to latency, or when rotation makes the virtual world appear to smear, judder, or blur — your brain assumes you’ve been poisoned, and reacts by making you feel queasy
  • Sensory Feedback: Virtual reality requires as many of our senses as possible to be simulated. These senses include vision (visual), hearing (aural), touch (haptic), and more

Advantages:

  • Education, Medicine, Military, and Science
  • Entertainment, Sports and Architecture

Disadvantages:

  • Better tracking system and Decreasing the time
  • Avoid bad ergonomics and it’s more addictive

Future:

  • In the future, we will see rapid advancements in creating a truly immersive digital experience
  • VR is going to play such a huge role in our lives over the next couple of years and it will change the way we live altogether
  • VR is a technology that can impact every single industry, from healthcare to space, to construction, to travel
  • VR is going to disrupt every single industry in the next couple of years, and it will allow us to live in a way we have never thought of before
  • VR has the potential to be an awesome invention, giving people the opportunity to generate just about any experience

Applications:

  • Simulation, Tourism, Psychology, Meditation, Real estate and Shopping
  • Social, Telepresence, Scientific Visualization and Industrial Design
  • Games, Arts, Aviation, Marketing, and Customer Experience

Developer Take-A-Ways!

Conclusion:

Virtual reality is the creation of a virtual environment presented to our senses in such a way that we experience it as if we were really there. Yet, we have to remind ourselves that this race doesn’t have a finish line. It uses a host of technologies to achieve this goal and is a technically complex feat that has to account for our perception and cognition.

The technology is becoming cheaper and more widespread. We can expect to see many more innovative uses for the technology in the future and perhaps a fundamental way in which we communicate and work thanks to the possibilities of virtual reality.

I’m going to share a bunch of tools for developers at the Developer Take-A-Ways Section of the story. I hope you found this article useful. If you feel like this story was useful or informative and think others should see it too, make sure you hit the ‘clap’ button. See you soon! 👋 Bubyee…

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