This technological revolution consists of an integration of software and hardware that allows users to enter a three-dimensional environment autonomously and in real time. It goes far beyond video games.
After many years of trial and error, of imagining an immersion in an alternative world where it was possible to interact with objects almost as real as those of our world, now it seems that virtual reality (VR, for its acronym in English) is that . , a reality.
This technology is more than what is shown in the advertising of young people isolated from the outside by devices that completely cover their eyes in order to play in hyper-realistic environments. In general terms, it consists of a software and hardware integration that allows users to enter a three-dimensional environment autonomously and in real time, which is achieved with a special VR viewer, that is, a pair of glasses.
Uses of these devices
Although it is true that these devices are used today, mainly, for the entertainment industry and specifically for video games, which allow the player to have a subjective and complete vision of the environment, their applications in other fields are growing more and more :
edicine : with this technology it is possible to reproduce the anatomy of the human body with 3D images to facilitate the diagnosis of diseases and even to simulate operations before they are carried out, which allows time to be reduced and the surgeon to have greater precision and safety.
Psychology : it has been used for the diagnosis and treatment of phobias and traumas, since by using VR glasses the patient is virtually exposed to situations that cause phobia, for example a dark and closed place, spiders, a flight, etc. .
Design and architecture : through VR, environments are recreated to the scale of what an apartment or other type of buildings will be like so that their future owners or tenants have a knowledge very close to reality about the distribution of spaces, light management, the use of materials and other characteristics.
Education : it is undoubtedly one of the fields with the greatest use of VR, which has allowed students to live immersive experiences while learning about history, biology, geography, literature, and even economics. This is so because by using virtual reality glasses they can, for example, travel to times like the Middle Ages and visit other territories. One of the best known cases is Google Expeditions, which allows students to see the world through group excursions.
The leaders in the world of virtual reality
Among the technology companies that have shown the most interest in the development of VR devices are Google (first with its Cardboard and recently with the Daydream View), Samsung (with the Gear VR), Oculus, HTC and Sony (with the PlayStation headset). VR).
But this goes further: Facebook also wants to be part of it, which is why Mark Zuckerberg, after the purchase of Oculus, has been preparing to make this social network a virtual reality one.
“Virtual reality is especially powerful in its abilities to manipulate bodies and facial expressions and make messages more persuasive,”
How are they doing it? Creating virtual environments from 360-degree images, which will allow interaction between people, as well as express emotions, receive video calls and answer messages in the chat. This can be done with three applications:
- Avatars: to design the representation with which a person will perform and interact with other users in the virtual world.
- Parties: it is a kind of chat where several users can interact.
- Rooms: this is a virtual physical space in which there will not only be interaction with others, but you can also watch movies or play games.
This demonstrates Zuckerberg’s interest in changing the way we interact today through social networks and taking it to another level: a parallel world in which, among other things, you can travel to another planet, fight with swords or teleport to visit family and friends.
Options found on the market
- The Google Cardboard, cardboard glasses to easily take advantage of the potential of Android phones.
- Samsung Gear VR, which offers better optics and field of vision. They are comfortable and adjust to any head size, in addition, they have sensors for better monitoring.
- Oculus Rift, considered the main benchmark for virtual reality. They have the ability to recreate a 3D vision with great depth, they have control of head movements, increased resolution, which translates into a total immersion of the user in the virtual plane.
- HTC Vive, involve tracking your hands and physical movements.
What the experts say about virtual reality
“Virtual reality is an out-of-body experience and, at the same time, completely connected with our body. it allows us to go beyond the limitations of physical tools,” Mark Bolas, VR Specialist Researcher, Microsoft.
“It is a synthetic environment that is not real, it is created by humans to represent a scene that does not exist, we use it to train astronauts in this environment that cannot be replicated in any other way. It has been very effective”, Evelyn Miralles, engineer at NASA’s Virtual Reality Laboratory.