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How does Virtual Reality Work?

Okay, virtual reality is a 3D world made by a computer and passed to your brain as a near to reality perception. How is it done?

what-does-virtual-reality-work

How does streaming 3D worlds and simulations from a computer gets into your head and immerse you into virtual worlds? Find out how.

Virtual Reality or VR is a fairly new technology and with it comes a dominant question of how it works exactly; from the moment the computer turns on to the immersive graphics projected on the vr headset.

There are many mediums where any user can experience virtual reality video or game. It can be via a vr headset, omni-directional treadmills and special gloves and controllers. Although the most popular of these options is the vr headset, there are some tricks on how it is made to work and stimulate the senses to create an illusion of reality.

vr hardware

Step 1: Hardware

The process starts with a computer. It can be a smartphone like the usual handheld device that can run virtual reality apps in a good frame rate. On the more powerful option is the PC with it’s unlimited possibility hardware choices. Virtual worlds are as good as the hardware that makes it run. So the clarity and smoothness of the vr experience is fundamentally dependent on the power of the devices being used.

Smartphones, for example will have to come up with 4k displays to make sure that the quality of images are sharper and more vivid. PC hardware are making graphics card that support 4k virtual realistic worlds.

If the hardware can’t handle it, then step 2 will be out of the question.

vr software

Step 2: Software

If the hardware is good enough, then the next step in the process kicks in: the software applications. Many platforms now supports high quality vr applications from mobile apps to full blown desktop games. The software side of things makes use of the capacity of the hardware to deliver the most immersive experience to the user.

Android have an API specifically made for virtual reality. Steam and Oculus now have dedicated software that will make efficient rendering of 3D games. This makes the usual 2D displays in a monitor into a 3D world on a vr headset.

vr experience

Step 3: Syncing Hardware and Software

Virtual reality then culminates to the synchronicity of hardware and software. In order to trick the brain that it is in a real physical world, it would have to be near perfect in terms of frame rates and consistency in the graphics including the sound quality fed through the headset.

The term asimmersiveness and realism divides vr experiences into two categories. It’s either unpleasant or enjoyable.

To have that realism effect, virtual reality must take into consideration all of human senses: sight, feel, hearing, smell, and taste. In case of the latest VR technology, sight and hearing is main priority.

Video should be more or less 180 degrees in the field of vision plus a very sharp rendering of the elements within that virtual world. The audio has to also follow the direction from which the user is facing. Making these two unsynced can cause disorientation on the brain causing nausea and motion sickness.

If an implementation of virtual reality manages to get the combination of hardware, software and sensory synchronicity just right it achieves something known as a sense of presence. Where the subject really feels like they are present in that environment.

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