Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment (e.g. video games), education (e.g. medical or military training) and business (e.g. virtual meetings). Other distinct types of VR-style technology include augmented reality and mixed reality, sometimes referred to as extended reality or XR.
One may distinguish between two types of VR; immersive VR and text-based networked VR (also known as “Cyberspace”). The immersive VR changes your view, when you move your head. While both VRs are appropriate for training, Cyberspace is preferred for distance learning. In some cases these two types are even complementary to each other. This page mainly focuses on the immersive VR.
Currently, standard virtual reality systems use either virtual reality headsets or multi-projected environments to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual environment. A person using virtual reality equipment is able to look around the artificial world, move around in it, and interact with virtual features or items. The effect is commonly created by VR headsets consisting of a head-mounted display with a small screen in front of the eyes, but can also be created through specially designed rooms with multiple large screens. Virtual reality typically incorporates auditory and video feedback, but may also allow other types of sensory and force feedback through haptic technology.
One method by which virtual reality can be realized is simulation-based virtual reality. Driving simulators, for example, give the driver on board the impression of actually driving an actual vehicle by predicting vehicular motion caused by driver input and feeding back corresponding visual, motion and audio cues to the driver.
Desktop-based virtual reality involves displaying a 3D virtual world on a regular desktop display without use of any specialized VR positional tracking equipment. Many modern first-person video games can be used as an example, using various triggers, responsive characters, and other such interactive devices to make the user feel as though they are in a virtual world. A common criticism of this form of immersion is that there is no sense of peripheral vision, limiting the user’s ability to know what is happening around them.
A head-mounted display (HMD) more fully immerses the user in a virtual world. A virtual reality headset typically includes two small high resolution OLED or LCD monitors which provide separate images for each eye for stereoscopic graphics rendering a 3D virtual world, a binaural audio system, positional and rotational real-time head tracking for six degrees of movement. Options include motion controls with haptic feedback for physically interacting within the virtual world in an intuitive way with little to no abstraction and an omnidirectional treadmill for more freedom of physical movement allowing the user to perform locomotive motion in any direction.
Augmented reality (AR) is a type of virtual reality technology that blends what the user sees in their real surroundings with digital content generated by computer software. The additional software-generated images with the virtual scene typically enhance how the real surroundings look in some way. AR systems layer virtual information over a camera live feed into a headset or smartglasses or through a mobile device giving the user the ability to view three-dimensional images.
Mixed reality (MR) is the merging of the real world and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
A cyberspace is sometimes defined as a networked virtual reality.
Simulated reality is a hypothetical virtual reality as truly immersive as the actual reality, enabling an advanced lifelike experience or even virtual eternity.