The Use and Function of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality

[Flickr Photo: Virtual reality, by: patrick.tafani. CC License.]

As time passes our technology becomes more advanced and modern. Some people may see this as a burden since it can be difficult to adapt to such changes. However, others expect these alterations to be both helpful and useful.

Technology is constantly shaping our lifestyles. This can be seen by the use of specific hardware such as virtual reality and augmented reality. Virtual reality is software that has been created to immerse an individual in an artificially created world. This can be done by altering what that person sees and hears. There are several ways that this can be done. The more complicated method involves using rooms that have portable computers, many screens, and special haptic devices that allow you to feel what you are seeing. The simpler version is achieved by using a computer, keyboard, and mouse. All of them can be used to change directions as well as get close or far from whatever may be surrounding you in this virtual world. Furthermore, the user has the option of control the virtual scenarios by deciding objectives and altering their surroundings with the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). Augmented reality uses another concept. Instead of creating a fake world it joins both digital data as well as your surroundings. In doing so, there is no need to create an entirely new artificial scenario.

The path to making the perfect virtual reality device can be taken back to the late 1800’s when people wanted to learn how to do 360-degree murals. When cameras started appearing, in the 1800, Charles Wheaton’s research showed that the brain processes the different two-dimensional image from each eye into a single object of 3 dimension. So, in order for a person to view and image with more depth they needed a stereoscopic image. A stereoscope is a device by which two photographs of the same object are taken at slightly different angles so when they are viewed together they give the image more depth and solidity. This method is the one still used today. In 1910, Morton Heiligs invented the Telesphere Mask which was the first example of a head mounted display, but was not interactive and without any motion tracking. In 1961, Philico Corporation engineers develop the first head-mounted device (HMD) that allowed magnetic motion tracking, which was linked to a close circuit camera, and a video screen for each eye. This is the model we still use today. Its initial use wasn’t for VR, but for military purposes; they would present a remote viewing of a dangerous scenario to their soldier. In 1965, Ivan Sutherland created the idea of VR, which he called “Ultimate Display”. He stated that he would create virtual world that would seem realistic through augmented 3D sound and tactile feedback. It would be hooked to a computer to create the virtual world through software and it will be able to process real time interactions. In 1969, Myron Kruegere developed computer generated environment which he called “Artificial Reality”. The environment was able to react with the people inside of it.

The idea of creating a virtual reality is to replace your reality with a digital one, tricking your brain into thinking that that’s your reality. Virtual reality originally was used to train new pilots in simulation of actually piloting a plane. Nowadays anyone can own a headset to transport themselves into a new and digital world. Virtual reality is made in a 3 dimensional way leaving the user with a feeling of realness. The technology consists of a headset that covers all the area of your sight so the person will be fully submerged in the visuals. Each one has sensors that follow the person’s body movements and it translates into the game, letting the person control it without controllers.
In another hand, augmented reality doesn’t reach another dimension or imaginary world, it is true to the current world but just adding a few digital elements. Used for games of for other daily uses like maps, viewing furniture in a space or bringing an object to life, augmented reality focuses on the use of the space around us and providing a view of how would something look like in certain place in our reality.

These tools can be used for multiple purposes. Virtual reality can be used to create the story and environment of a video game. This task can be performed, for example, by the Oculus VR. Moreover, it may also function as a training program in order to inform others.  In order to generate more awareness, the UK National Autistic Society made a film with the purpose of informing the general public about autism. Virtual reality also has the potential to educate children in schools. As a matter of fact, in 2015 Google invented a program called Expeditions that can take children to a virtual trip to Mars. This was used by selected schools and the great majority liked and approved of this innovative technology. Additionally, medical students have used VR to gain knowledge about medical procedures. This has also been used by doctors do surgeries on patients. The first ever VR surgery occurred in April 2016. Certain phobias, such as arachnophobia, have been treated by using virtual reality as well. The same kind of technology can be used to treat soldiers that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Augmented reality as well as VR also has its uses. This device is often used by industries that work on marketing, and safety of the general public. One of the most well-known VR inventions is the smart glass. They are high definition glasses that incorporate a display with whatever may be surrounding you. A well-known smart glasses model is the CastAR. This particular pair of glasses allows you scan your environment as well as adjust to your surroundings. Furthermore, you also have the ability to move objects around in this world and can even play AR games. The Oculus Rift has also been created to give gamers a different experience when playing. This device is a headset that helps a person to move around freely while also playing a video game. In order to use it, however, you need a powerful computer. Moreover, AR can also be used to show people demos and teach them how to do certain tasks. One demo was actually created by Inglobe Technologies with the intention of potentially giving their customers more insight on how to change their filters and verify their car’s fluid levels.

acrossair augmented reality app

[Flickr Photo: acrossair augmented reality app, by: Robin Ashford. CC License.]

It wasn’t until 1987 when the term “Virtual Reality” was created by Jaron Lanier, the founder of Visual Programming Lab. He created the gear for VR: The EyePhone $9,400-$49,000 and  DataGlove $9,000. After this went into the market video game companies started developing this devices for their customers. 1991 Virtual Group Arcade Machines, 1993 SEGA VR, 1995 Nintendo Virtual Boy. There are many uses for virtual reality like: education, filmmaking, journalism, tourism, etc. But the main use for VR is gaming. Nowadays there are many companies that have made their own VR device, but these are the main competitors: The Oculus Rift, it kick-started the newest generation of VR and many companies are competing against it. It launch in early 2016, it must be connected to a computer, at a price range of $599. Some of its game include Chronos an RPG, Minecraft a building and exploration open-world concept, Elite: Dangerous an interactive space game, Keep Talking and Nobody Explode a fun multiplayer experience to defuse a bomb. Next is the HTC Vive, the most expensive and complicated system on the market right now, but once you set it up you have the ability to walk and interact with the world around you. It’s a partnership between Taiwanese Tech and Valve, price range of $799 it’s the direct rival to the Oculus Rift and requires a powerful computer, it has both VR and AR, a hand worn Gestural controllers and a base station that tracks your movements. Some games are Job simulator, which, as the name implies, simulates jobs, TheBlu a visual ocean experience, Tilt Paint which you can paint in the air around you. There is the Sony PlayStation VR that hooks up to your PlayStation 4 with you PS controller and Dual Shock 4. It is the first console connected VR headset, with a price range of $399 it’s the most affordable high end model. Some games are Tumble VR a puzzle game, Batman: Arkham VR crime-solving strategy game, Thumper a racing game, PlayStation VR worlds a mini-game to show off the Sony VR tech. There’s also the Samsung Gear VR, which uses your smartphone (only compatible with Samsung S6, S7 or Galaxy Note 7) as the screen and processor. It price is $100 and it has a variety of apps like Land’s End an eerie exploration game, smash hit a puzzle game, Gunjack a sci-fi shooter.

Virtual Reality tries to create an environment with software and presents it to the viewer in such a way that he/she believes it as real and it does it almost perfectly. This experience is mostly perceived by two of the five senses: vision and sound, but touch can be added through haptic devices. Sometimes, you can even interact with the environment with the help of computers and controllers, but there are even more sophisticated efforts of interacting that involve a wrap-around display screens with actual room augmented reality and wearable devices. VR has a wide variety of uses that help the user do and experience different environment and tasks. The most common use for VR is gaming and there are many companies jumping to make the best headset device to please its consumers. The Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, among others; all of this are game related, but have other apps that let you sit down and relax. However gaming isn’t the  use for VR. Virtual reality is also used in the medical field to heighten traditional therapy methods and find effective solutions for treatment of PTSD, anxiety and social disorders. Business Industries also benefit from VR. Car-makers are creating safer vehicles, architects are constructing stronger buildings and travel agencies are using VR to simplify vacation planning. When you have the ability to enter a world where you can create anything you want and can, actually, interact with it, from simple entertainment to complex medicine, then the possibilities are endless.

If you wish to learn more you can watch these videos:

Virtual Reality: Explained!

Google Project Glass: Explained!    

New Technology for the Blood Service

Web References

These websites talk about virtual reality:

Definition virtual reality

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/virtual-reality

Definition augmented reality (AR)

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/augmented-reality-AR

History of Virtual Reality

https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html

A Brief History of Augmented Reality

http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2516729&seqNum=2

The complete guide to virtual reality – everything you need to get started

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/10/virtual-reality-guide-headsets-apps-games-vr

10 Forthcoming Augmented Reality & Smart Glasses You Can Buy

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/augmented-reality-smart-glasses/

Finally- 4 Real-World Uses for Augmented Reality

https://www.theprimacy.com/blog/finally-4-real-world-uses-for-augmented-reality/

Best Augmented Reality Apps

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-augmented-reality-apps/

The real-world uses for virtual reality

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-37576755

10 of The Best Virtual Reality Apps for your Smartphone

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/13/best-virtual-reality-apps-smartphone-iphone-android-vr

Blogs

These blogs talk about virtual reality:

Serious Insights Virtual Reality Digest. August 25, 2016

http://www.seriousinsights.net/virtual-reality-blog/

Virtual Reality in Medical Training: Will we have Another Healthcare Revolution?

https://unimersiv.com/blog/

These blogs talk about augmented reality:

8 Key Things to Know about Augmented & Virtual Reality

http://www.indestry.com/inde-blog/

Furniture Today: Marxent takes “huge step toward the future” with Markerless Augmented Reality

http://www.marxentlabs.com/blog/

Interview with Wikitude: New SDK & Future of AR

http://www.augmented.org/blog/

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