In the magical world of technology, reality could be redefined to be a parallel universe of imagination… but stay on hold as it is still the REALITY! A reality of a three dimensioned environment, intangible yet existing. Proudly presenting the next milestone of the technological arena; “Virtual Reality.”
The cyber space is now ordinary in the new normal as the global pandemic led humankind to step into the world of virtual interaction. While Virtual vs Reality is debated, the wizard of time cast upon a new spell combining the two! Virtual Reality or VR is defined as “a simulated experience that employs pose tracking and 3D near-eye displays to give the user an immersive feel of a virtual world” according to Wikipedia. Which in simple terms is, creating a simulated environment with the use of computer technology, where a user is given the immersive experience being placed within the virtual environment that can be explored in 360 degrees. Well, a magical land of technology!
Virtual reality is categorized mainly into three distinctive aspects based on the level of immersion of the user. Accordingly, the first type is the ‘non-immersive virtual reality” which means that the user is not directly immersed into a digitalized surrounding and only will be present via a digital element itself. The best example for this is video games, where a user controls a digital avatar to explore and interact with the virtual environment. Secondly is the “Semi-immersive virtual reality” which is a hybrid output of both non immersive and fully immersive virtual reality. This could be further explained as the category of virtual reality where no physical movement is occupied, and only visual experience is provided enabling the user to engage and interact with the simulated environment through vision. A virtual home tour in the real estate industry is a comprehensive example which provides the users or customers a virtual experience to view the houses instead of the traditional open house visit. And the third and most incredible category is the “Fully-immersive virtual reality.” This is when the user is completely immersed into the digitalized environment being equipped with wearable technological tools. The user is provided with the sense of being within this virtual reality and powerful computers communicate with sensors in wearable helmets, gloves, or handheld devices to detect and project movement within a pre-defined domain. This emerging gigantic revolution is expected to be brought into effective practice in diverse fields that requires immense training due to the complex procedures. Fully immersive virtual reality is a destination yet to be reached but the advancement of technology will soon be taking mankind to flag its achievement.
The current world is dived into technology and thus the application of virtual reality is being established in multiple industries in efficient and effective ways to add in the essence of uniqueness and innovation, providing the user a spectacular experience. The first field that pops up in our minds is the entertainment industry where VR is abundantly utilized. Video games, 3D cinemas, amusement park rides with visual effects are few well known applications which some of us may have even experienced. Another field where VR is made use of is the social sciences and psychology field where virtual reality is a practical tool for studying and simulating interactions in a controlled environment. It is possible to use it as a form of therapeutic treatment. The medical field too have been developing simulated VR surgical environments since the 1990s. Under the guidance of experts, VR may deliver efficient and repeatable training at a minimal cost, enabling trainees to identify and amend errors as they take place. The contemporary business world too has adopted to this technology during meetings, creating a simulated environment and hence providing a new experience to its clients, customers, partners etc. to interact and engage rather than a traditional video call. Further for training, education, and occupational safety and health purposes, VR can replicate realistic work environments. It can also be used to give students access to a virtual environment where they can develop their abilities without having to worry about the repercussions of failing in the actual world. So, on goes the list of industries which constructively utilizes this distinctive element of technology.
Ever story has two sides and its own pluses and minuses, and VR is no exceptional and inherits its own pros and cons. Here’s briefly taking you through some of them. VR provides a platform for effective communication going beyond traditional modes of communicating, it renders the user with an innovative experience to engage and explore a digitalized environment providing detailed views, productively utilized in various field to enhance processes, training and insights are a few of the advantages. Risk of user addiction to the virtual world, high cost of implementation, training provided via VR is not real are some of the disadvantages that can be mentioned with regards to virtual reality. But man inherits the ability to identify and magnify the pros while spotting the cons and overcoming the challenges it brings. Not simple as a wave of a wand but never impossible!
WHAT VR FEELS LIKE!
A tale of the reality yet the world of imagination…
One fine day feeling the warmth of the sun that shines so bright not letting me look at it, I was all set to step into the world of tech escaping reality! The green screen studio was indeed full of greenery. After being equipped with the head-mounted display also called as the HMD which was fitted to my face and the controller in my hands, I was standing in another world.
I was deep inside the ocean where all the fish were swimming right next to me. The beautiful corals of rainbow colors and the gigantic whale that surprised me, the friendly dolphins playing around and I standing between all of them. The water was trembling around playing with the light that ran through it. The controllers aided me to touch them and feel them all.
Indeed, a magical world, where I didn’t have to breath underwater. Not knowing to swim and believing that I’ll never learn to, this was unbelievable! The HDM and controllers were like the magical tools that brought me into this wonderous world…
It was not my imagination but it was the reality.
Rtr. Rahma Zuhri
Rotaract Club of University of Kelaniya