Virtual reality is no longer a dream of the future, but has already arrived in our society. But what exactly is virtual reality and what opportunities and dangers does it hold?
How is virtual reality defined?
Virtual reality is the representation of a computer-generated world that appears so realistic that it completely replaces the user’s real environment. With the help of head-mounted displays (HMDs), data-driven projections or other technologies, the user is teleported into a virtual world in which he or she can act regardless of location. Virtual reality offers us the opportunity to visit places and have experiences that are not possible or dangerous in the real world.
How does virtual reality work?
The simulator software creates a three-dimensional world that may be similar to the real world or completely different, and the user wears VR goggles or a headset to see and move around in the world. In a VR environment, the user can see, hear and feel what is happening in the virtual world. He can also interact with other users in the same virtual world. Most VR systems use motion control to mimic the user’s movements in the virtual world.
Opportunities and dangers of virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment that allows users to move and interact in another world. VR technologies are already used in some areas, for example in video games, flight simulators and tourism. In the future, VR will probably also find its way into other areas, for example in architecture, medicine and education. The opportunities that arise from the spread of VR are manifold. For example, the technology could be used to create new types of experiences and entertainment. VR could also be used in education to introduce new concepts to students or to teach certain skills. In addition, VR could also be used to better integrate people with disabilities into society. However, the spread of VR also poses some dangers. For example, the technology could be misused to lure people into a virtual world where they have to work for others or perform certain actions. It could also lead to addiction-promoting behaviour, for example by people losing their social contacts or becoming more and more lost in their own virtual world.
How did the technology come about?
Virtual reality technology has emerged from a combination of different areas of technology and science. The first approaches to VR technologies were made in the 1960s, when computer-controlled equipment was developed to create 3D images. Then, in the 1970s, the first head-mounted displays (HMDs) came onto the market, allowing users to immerse themselves in a computer-generated 3D environment. In the 1980s, the so-called Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) was developed, an immersive VR system that worked with several projection screens and a tracking system. In the 1990s, the first commercial VR systems came onto the market, such as the Virtuality System. Since then, VR technology has continued to develop and can now be found in many different areas.
Conclusion & what the future holds
Virtual reality is already an integral part of the gaming industry today and will also find its way into other areas in the coming years. The technical possibilities have improved greatly in recent years and the prices for hardware are falling steadily. Software offerings are also becoming more and more diverse. In the future, we will not only use virtual reality for gaming, but also for education, training, research and much more.