It’s Monday morning, you wake up and put on your Oculus headset. You are instantly transported to the surface of Mars where your super cool teacher from the other side of the world decided to teach today’s lesson.
After learning about the technologies we need to get to the red planet, you are transported to the Nasa JPL 🚀 where your physics class is having a field trip.
Finally, after a fun day at school (I know it’s crazy fun and school in the same sentence) you decide to head over to the gaming universe to play Fortnite 🎮with all of your friends. And the coolest part… you did all of this in the comfort of your room.
I don’t know about you, but I wish this was the reality.
However… it isn’t, but the technology that could get us there does.
“Virtual reality” has the potential to create this future!
In Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One he envisioned a dystopian future where people escaped to a virtual reality world called “The OASIS.” Essentially, The OASIS was an interactive simulated gaming universe and was created by a tech businessman named James Halliday.
After reading the book (or watching the movie), you too would wonder if one day The OASIS could be a reality.
And the answer is… YES, we can create this reality.
We just need to find our James Halliday (Our Elon Musk of VR).
So for those of you who are wondering…
What is Virtual Reality?
In a nutshell, Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation.
It is fully immersive and is part of the “mixed-realities” family.
How Does VR Work?
In order for VR to work, you need two things:
- A VR headset (for a fully immersive experience) or a computer (if you want to simulate VR)
- A phone (most of the time)
There are Two Types of VR Headsets
- A phone compatible headset → you put your phone into the headset, as the screen.
- A standalone headset → this means it has a built in screen, power, and storage. No phone needed.
Parts of a Headset
All VR headsets have:
- A headband
- An attachment sensor → this is attached to your phone (unless it is a standalone headset)
- An adjustment dial & release button → because we all want our headband to be comfy
- Motion tracking sensors
- Lenses → so you can see the VR application of course
Types of Motion Tracking
Motion tracking is what controls what you are looking at in the VR world. It essentially tracks what direction your head is in.
There are five main types of motion tracking methods.
1) 6DOF & 3DOF Tracking
6DOF tracking uses sensors to measure the six degrees of freedom and determines what direction your head is facing to make a seamless and immersive VR experience.
3DOF tracking is a bit different, as there are less directions the sensors can track. This tracking method is more common.
2) Lighthouse tracking
Lighthouse tracking uses passive markers on HTC Vive headsets and controllers.
3) Electromechanical environment & body sensors
Using microscopic electromechanical sensors such as: gyroscopes, accelerometers, and magnetometers is a common method of motion tracking.
4) Infrared cameras 📷
These cameras track motion without any markers. One example, is the Microsoft Kinect.
5) Depth-sensing cameras
These cameras are often used in the film industry. This method involves using reflective markers and a special camera to measure their movement in a space.
How Do I Make My Own VR Application?
So, you want to be a VR developer.
Cool! So do I.
First, you need a powerful computer 🖥️ ️
VR projects take up a lot of computer storage and power ⚡
Oculus recommends a GTX 90 graphics card (at minimum).
Second, you need to know VR programming languages. These include:
Next, you will need a game engine to develop your application.
I would highly recommend Unity.
Another great option is Unreal Engine.
Finally, you upload your VR application to a phone or standalone headset and enjoy :)
Congrats now you’re an expert in VR! 😎Now go build some VR games and sharpen your VR skills. We need more Virtual Reality developers A.S.A.P. to build the OASIS.
Haptic and tactile technologies make VR next-level.
In Ready Player One, they don’t just use VR headsets. We see devices such as: gloves, bodysuits, and conveyor belt systems. All these devices enhance the VR experience.
Combining haptic and tactile devices enhances the overall VR experience.
In our current world, similar devices we have are:
Motion Sickness is the biggest problem in the VR industry.
Our body and mind are not in harmony, when we are in a VR application.
If you have a VR headset on and are driving a car 🏎️ You will see the road moving, but your body won’t feel anything.
This disconnection often causes motion sickness in different severities for VR users.
Currently, there isn’t any breakthrough solutions to this problem 😭
Where VR is currently being used?
VR is being used in several different industries for lots of cool applications.
Virtual reality is disrupting many industries and will continue to do so over the next couple of decades.
VR is huge in the business space. It is a great tool for product visualization and planning.
Companies can use VR to map out building plans, visualize what a future product will look like, and even create interactive presentations for clients.
Currently, the entertainment industry is one of the biggest applications for VR technology. Just like in Ready Player One.
Gaming is a huge application of virtual reality.
Companies like Playstation and Oculus are currently distributing and developing VR games for their VR technologies. There’s even a Ready Player One VR game available.
Some of the top VR games include:
- Beat Saber (star wars… but not)
- Star Trek: Bridge Crew (for the Star Trek fans)
- Edge of Nowhere (super cool expedition game)
- Marvel Powers United (for all the Marvel fans)
- Minecraft (creepers are scarier in VR…)
- Fortnite… ok there’s no VR Fortnite, but when it comes it will definitely be on this list 🦄
Virtual reality has the potential to disrupt every single industry.
Here’s some industries virtual reality could disrupt in the near future:
VR will revolutionise the education space, because it will bring new opportunity for interactive learning. As mentioned earlier in my article, wouldn’t it be way cooler to learn about Mars on Mars! 😎
Forget shopping in store. Forget shopping on online stores.
VR stores are where it’s at 🛍️
In the future, we will no longer have to go to malls. We can just enter the VR space and explore a virtual mall and all its stores, in the comfort of our homes.
Currently, companies are working on VR solutions to common patient problems 🏥 For example, it can be used to calm a patient before and after a stressful surgery. It can also be used to distract a mom, during childbirth.
Many seniors cannot travel, due to health restrictions. Luckily for them, VR travel companies are in there early stages and will bring about the opportunity to travel via VR! Travel in the VR space will help reduce carbon emissions and will be a cheaper option for low-income individuals. All around awesome! ✈️
Companies to Watch in the VR Space
There are lots of really cool companies disrupting the VR space, in a several different industries ranging from Space to Entertainment and everything in between. Here are some personal favourites:
In 2014, Google ventured into the VR space and released the Google Cardboard headset. It’s compatible with both ios and Android devices. They also released several VR games. The Google Cardboard is an affordable option for VR headsets, as it only costs $30.
In 2016, they released there Daydream VR headset.
Google will continue to create VR hardware and fun games to go with them.
AltSpaceVR is a really cool company in VR. They are a software company and platform where you can have meetings, conversations, and play games in different VR Spaces.
The Void is one of my favourite VR companies. They are a company that does pop-up VR experiences. In Disney Springs, they created an immersive Star Wars experience. How it works: is you wear a VR headset and the building you are in, has been designed to match the layout of the virtual world. As you move through the Star Wars universe, you walk through the building and experience different effects that relate to the VR experience. You may be sprayed with water, feel cold air, warm air, etc. It’s really cool!
The Most Important Information:
- Virtual reality is a really cool technology with the potential to disrupt every industry.
- VR is a fully immersive computer-generated simulation. It is part of the mixed reality family.
- There are six main types of motion tracking: 6DOF & 3DOF, lighthouse tracking, electromechanical environment & body sensors, infrared cameras, and depth-sensing cameras.
- Motion sickness is a big problem in VR.
- There’s a ton of cool companies in VR: Oculus, AltSpaceVR, The Void, and many more.
If we work together, we can make The OASIS a reality, and maybe one day in the future someone will stumble across this article — in VR. Until then, I hope I’ve inspired someone reading this to possibly go into virtual reality, because you might just be the James Halliday we’ve been waiting for.
We need more smart people and startups working on this technology, as virtual reality is going to shape our future in many ways.
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Thanks for reading! Now go change the world! ❤