The Cybernetic World of Virtual Reality

The concept of Virtual Reality (VR) has been around for decades, it’s just now people are becoming aware of it. Virtual Reality has promised to change the world since late 60’s. In 1960 Sensorama Simulator become first VR machine to stimulate all senses, it included a stereoscopic display, fans odor emitter, stereo speakers and a moving chair. Sensorama Simulator was created by cinematographer named Morton Heilig, he also invented a head mounted television display designed to let users watch television in 3-D.

Virtual reality (also known as immersive multimedia) is a computer-simulated environment that mocks or simulates real-world environments, as well as simulates physical presences in real or imagined worlds. VR technology has traditionally been a virtual sight- and perhaps sound-based experience, but has the potential to recreate other sensory experiences, such as virtual taste, smell, and even touch.

It was in 2014 VR stepped into the consumers spotlight in the form of a prototype head mounted display set called the Oculus Rift. Palmer Luckey the inventor of the Oculus Rift aimed to create a platform for immersive video games but the developers from many fields like aviation, tourism, medicine are running wild with endless possibilities. The Oculus Rift’s inspired many to create and focus on VR headsets, Oculus in now owned by Facebook.

It was in 2014 VR stepped into the consumers spotlight in the form of a prototype head mounted display set called the Oculus Rift.

Oculus and Samsung have collaborated together to launch one of its model publically called the Samsung Gear. The Samsung Gear uses technology from Oculus and turns Galaxy Note 4 into a VR headset. Another VR headset was announced by Samsung at MWC 2015 that uses the Samsung S6 or S6 edge to give its users the best viewing experience. But this year both Samsung and Oculus are getting some stiff competition as HTC also revealed it VR headset called the Vive.

Samsung and Oculus are getting some stiff competition as HTC also revealed it VR headset called the Vive

The Vive is powered by gaming company Valve and it sounds like it’ll outperform anything we’ve seen yet. The biggest advantage of HTC’s Vive among others is that it lets your walk around the physical world to move you in the virtual one, so you feel more involved in the experience than you would if you had to move using a games controller. Of course, walking around the real world while looking at a virtual one could result in bumping into walls. But HTC and Valve have thought of that, and real world obstacles are marked in the virtual world.

Sony cannot be excluded for the ongoing VR headset race as it has also announced its VR headset called the Sony Morpheus. But Morpheus isn’t expected to be available publically till next year. Sony promised that when Morpheus arrives people will be able to play graphics at a whopping 120 frames per second, this is faster than 90 frames per second that others could manage and could end potential motion sickness.

Virtual reality is used in many areas ranging from Healthcare/Surgery, Gaming, Education, Military, Architecture, Entertainment, Sports, Rehabilitation/treatment of phobias and others.

The list of applications for VR is endless. Developers can take advantage of this platform and use it to unlock various impossibilities.

health

From the Healthcare prospective development can be done to develop such applications which can be used to train the next generation of doctors, paramedics and other medical personnel. VR headset can be used in medical schools as a mean of education and instructions. It can enable medical students to acquire knowledge and understanding about the human body by means of interaction within a virtual environment. Medical students can perform ‘Hands on’ procedures but in a safe and more controlled environment. They can make mistakes and learn from them without any risk of patient’s life and death. They interact with a virtual patient and as a result of this, learn skills which they can then apply in the real world.

Telecommunications is another field which can utilize virtual reality technology, in particular mobile communications which enables easy access to a variety of VR based projects.

The main challenge is to deal with a medium which mainly relies upon the tone of voice, intonation, gesture and body language as compared to spoken words. Spoken words only account for a very small percentage of the overall communication. But traditional forms of communication such as the telephone are being superseded by video conferencing, Skype and live chat. These communication mediums can be used on the internet and other similar systems and are seen as cheaper and more flexible.

Telecommunications can be used to help virtual reality systems such as surgery simulation or telemedicine. An example of this is remote surgery in which images from that surgery can be transmitted to various locations around the world. It also enables surgery to be performed in remote locations using robotic technology and virtual reality.

Gaming is an obvious virtual reality application and is used in VR Headsets as it can portray virtual worlds and true gaming experience but there are a whole host of uses for virtual reality headsets.

The entertainment industry is one of the most enthusiastic advocates of virtual reality these include gaming, virtual museums, galleries, theatres, virtual theme parks and many others  fall into the category ‘edutainment’ in which the aim is to educate as well as entertain.

There are numerous ways VR headsets can be used to provide enormous benefits one of them is the use of VR headsets in military. As nowadays terrorism and security issues are one of the main concern not only for Pakistan but all over the world. VR headsets can be adopted by the military and can be used for training purposes particularly for training soldiers for combat situations or other dangerous settings where they have to learn how to react in an appropriate manner. A virtual reality headset or simulation can enable them to do so but without the risk of death or a serious injury. They can create a particular scenario, for example engagement with an enemy in an environment in which they experience this but without the real world risks. This has proven to be safer and less costly than traditional training methods. These may include flight simulations, battlefield simulations, medical trainings (on field) and vehicle simulation.

Virtual reality and its utilities is a form of technology which creates computer generated worlds or immersive environments which people can explore and in many cases, interact with.

Virtual reality has its advocates and opponents which are mainly due to a lack of understanding about this technology and its capabilities. Unrealistic expectations coupled with lack of awareness regarding technical limitations means that for many people, virtual reality is difficult to grasp or even take serious.

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