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How Does Virtual Reality Work and Some of Its Applications?

How Does Virtual Reality Work and Some of Its Applications?
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The Virtual reality headset is the new rage in smart phone accessories. Virtual reality is the usage of both software and hardware to create realistic images with electronic devices. They replicate a real time environment and simulate human presence in that environment.

How does it work?

While it is interesting to experience VR it equally raises curiosity in us about how it works. The hardware required for VR that is the glasses is currently being marketed by HTC, Sony, Oculus and Samsung. This hardware requires a console like a PC or mobile to run the application.

The video is sent from the console to the VR hardware through an HDMI cable, which is either fed as one display or two LCD displays (one for each eye). The hardware consists of special lenses, that is why they are commonly referred to as goggles, they can be adjusts according to the viewer’s requirement.

The lenses are responsible for reshaping the images and giving stereoscopic 3D images by varying the 2D images. When a user closes one eye and views the objects through just one eye there is a variation in the image which will make them understand the technology behind it.

Another aspect through which the 3D experience can be made more immersive is by increasing the field of view. Wider field of view gives better experience. The widest being 360 degrees.

However this is too expensive and unnecessary. Also a frame rate of 60 per second would give the best view. This frame rate is necessary to avoid the users from feeling the stuttering. The current headset manufactures like Oculus give a frame rate 90 frames per second and Google provides 120 frames per second.

Head Tracking

Head tracking is the change of Video or image display in accordance with the movement of your head. As you look up or down the video in front of you will move matching it. The system behind head tracking is called six degrees of freedom 6DoF, this tech will plot the movement of your head in terms of X, Y and Z axis to track the movement of head in sideways, up and down ways also from shoulder to shoulder. Also known as pitch, yaw and roll.

Apart from this there are few components that are used in head tracking, gyroscope, magnetometer and accelerometer. Sony uses nine LED (light emitting diode) around the headset to provide 360 degree head tracking; there is an external camera to monitor all the LED signals. Oculus has 20 lights however they are not as effective as that of Sony.

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Head tracking needs low latency. That is the system should respond and act fast in accordance with the viewers head movement to avoid any lag in viewing. At present manufactures have an impressive number 50ms (millisecond) lag to give the best view for users.

As of now oculus has the best number of 30 milliseconds which is now the minimal lag. It is very essential to avoid lag so as to get the arm and hand movement coordinated precisely. For arm movement tracking move style controllers are used. Finally sound can increase the 3D feel and make the viewers more engaged with the tech. To achieve this application uses binaural or 3D audio.

This gives the users the feeling that the sound is coming from behind or from the sides.

Eye tracking

This is the technology which has not been developed completely. It is not available in the current headsets such as Vive, oculus or PS. However many of the future sets are said to come with this technology.

The headsets come with inbuilt infrared sensors that monitor the user’s eye movement. So when you look at a particular object the headset knows where you are looking and gives a better picture. The biggest application where they can be used is gaming. So the user’s eye movement can be tracked and the in-game characters can move along with the viewer’s eyes. This makes the field depth more realistic.

In standard headsets every image has pin sharp focus which is not how we look at real life images. So when the headsets track your eye movement they will blur the background and focus on what you look at.

For this to come into reality the headsets require high resolution displays which will eliminate the feel of looking through a grid to view the pictures. Only by developing this complete real feel can be obtained. Without eye tracking and just head tracking the users’ brain might sense that something is not adding up and gives simulation sickness.

Virtual reality shopping

If you are someone who loves shopping but does not want to get crushed in the crowd of shoppers then VR brings you something exciting to shop around. A virtual reality store is the answer to this. This is being created by eBay and Myer with more than 12,500 products for display. How does it work?

The shoppers get to choose their area of interest and then the items will be displayed in a virtual world as the store gets built around them. The products displayed will be the latest ones and price range according to the user’s requirement.

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As shoppers move through the store the software comes up with more options. This makes the entire experience of shopping faster and easier as you can move through the departments easily.

How does virtual reality gaming work

In VR games the user feels like as though he is being present in the gaming environment and his actions are taking the game forward.

Bio Sensing

The complete name for tracking the users’ physical movement is bio sensing. At present developers are exploring various ideas to build the most immersive gaming experience ever. Today in most of the gaming conference across the world feature Virtual gaming, rising expectations and curiosity.

3D internet

Imagine going to a website is more like going to a place in leisurely time and exploring it rather than just clicking a website and going through its contents. It will be like just going in a street seeing two to three cafes and then walking into the one which appeals to you. This will totally alter the website development cycle.

This is called second life and it is about creating an environment where users can socialize with others in a 3D environment

Virtual reality languages

As we have computer coding languages there are separate language to develop the tech behind virtual reality which are:

VRML(Virtual Reality Modeling Language):

It is the first language written to create virtual reality internet


This language has replaced VRML


This is the language used to make the viewers visit websites through a plug-in

COLLADA (Collaborative Design Activity):

used to enable file and data exchange through 3D.

However there are many debates surrounding the use of 3D for internet as it does not require much of real life viewing experience of course not everyone agrees with this. Nonetheless VR is opening a floodgate of opportunities for developers to create applications and other interesting data.

Author Bio: 

Anand Rajendran is the Co-Founder and CEO of Zoplay a well known Software products development and Mobile App Development Company based in Chennai, India. He has extensive experience in building and leading innovative and collaborative software development teams to deliver major software applications like Zobay an Ebay clone script developed by Zoplay. He loves exploring new things and sharing his knowledge with others.

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