What Is VR And The Common Terms You Must Know

Industry Overview

Virtual Reality (VR) is a fascinating technology that has grown in popularity over the last few years. This new way of interacting with computers and graphics is revolutionizing everything from education to entertainment. According to Statista, the global market size of VR is expected to increase from $4.8 billion in 2021 to an estimated $12 billion by 2024!

Not only that,  PwC’s 2019 study forecasts that 23 million jobs will be created as a result of AR and VR. While the technology might be in an early stage of adoption, it is only a matter of time before AR and VR become standard components of global business operations. In the meantime, businesses that have already invested in these technologies are making the most of their investment with a slew of innovative applications.

In case you are yet to explore this technology, this article will be the right place to start. Read on to know what virtual reality technology is and how different industries are integrating the same to improve their business front. Without further ado, let’s get you started.

What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

We all know what it’s like to read a book or watch a movie and be transported into another time or place—but VR takes that experience to another level. It lets users connect with a virtual world in an entirely new way. They’re no longer just watching or reading about events happening around them: they’re part of them, living them out first-hand.

To define, Virtual reality (VR) is part of 4IR (fourth industrial revolution), a technology that offers an  interactive and immersive experience. It uses advanced softwares to generate realistic images, sounds, and other sensations, to  simulate a user’s physical presence in a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment. 

Experiencing VR requires virtual reality glasses, controllers or dedicated tools and a software application to track movements and project the same in the virtual world. A person wearing VR glasses can not only  look around the virtual world, but also interact and engage with the elements within it. 

The primary components of virtual reality are modelling, interaction and immersion. Modelling refers to the creation of objects within virtual reality; interaction involves how users engage with these objects; and immersion refers to how users feel as if they are present in their own world while they interact with these objects. 

Common Terms You Must Know About VR

With VR comes a suite of words and phrases that are used commonly to relate with the technology. Here are a few that you might have heard of and wondering what does that mean?

1. Head Mounted Display (HMD)

HMD or head mounted displays are the means to render virtual experiences to the user. As a headworn display unit, HMD projects the virtually created environment right in front of the user’s visions. These can either be connected to a PC, smartphone or other computational devices, delivering high-end immersive experiences.

2. Field of View (FOV)

FOV is ideally known as the field of view, representing how much of the virtual world is visible to the user. Where a human eye has a FOV of 180-degrees, the same can vary for a VR headset. Conventionally, the FOV of a VR headset can be anywhere between 90 to 130 degrees. Evidently, the higher the FOV, the better is the vision, and correspondingly, improved user experience.

3. Frame Rate (FPS)

Frame rate refers to how many frames per second your headset can process. This is important because it determines what your visual experience will be like when using the headset—the higher the frame rate, the smoother the look and feel. A good baseline for experiencing VR is 60 frames per second (fps), though some headsets are capable of processing up to 120 fps. (Link)

4. Degree of Freedom

A measurement of how much motion input is possible in a piece of hardware. For instance, if you have 6DoF input, you’re able to move around a space freely, while 3DoF means your movement is limited to forward and backward motions.

5. Tracking types

The system is used to track your movements within the virtual space. This includes optical tracking (which uses cameras to track the position of your head), inertial tracking (which uses gyroscopes and accelerometers), and mixed reality tracking (which combines both).

6. Controllers

Controllers are the input devices that allow you to interact with your VR environment. These have sensors installed on top to track and sense the movements of the user. They could come in the form of hand-held devices or a series of other tools like remotes.

7. Motion sickness

One of the most common terms associated with virtual reality is motion sickness. Mainly due to the huge form factor of the VR headset, users tend to feel nauseated. Even though you are static, the mind thinks that you are still moving given that wearing VR headsets causes a disconnect between the real world and the virtual environment. With time, VR headsets have now become lightweight, reducing the issues of mental sickness or confusion.

8. IPD

IPD stands for Inter-Pupillary Distance. This is the distance between your pupils, and it’s a key parameter used to make sure the headset fits properly and will be comfortable to use.

Types of VR Headsets

1. Standalone

Standalone VR headsets are self-contained devices that provide you with a fully immersive experience. Also referred to as monolithic headsets, standalone VR has inbuilt processors, viewfinders and batteries that can work in themselves rendering spatial orientation and recognition to deliver an immersive virtual experience. Having 6 degrees of freedom, standalone VR offers greater mobility, enhancing the end-user experience.

2. PC

PC-tethered VR headsets require a computer with powerful graphics capabilities to work. They connect to your computer via HDMI cable, USB port, or other connection types. You can’t use these without having a powerful computer, but if you do have one you’ll be able to access hundreds of games and apps in richly detailed 3D environments.

3. Console

Console-tethered VR headsets are similar to PC-tethered ones except they connect to consoles instead of computers.

Use Cases of Virtual Reality

1. VR for Training

Simulating life-like learning experiences, VR offers tremendous possibilities when it comes to training. Be it industrial training or combat learning, medical training or others, virtual reality is proven to improve learning outcomes while reducing the cost and time taken to train. Research suggests that VR helps train 4 times faster than e-learning, rendering a 40% improvement in performance.

2. VR for Tourism

While the pandemic created havoc restricting people to their homes, it also opened up new avenues of entertainment. One of them is the application of virtual reality technology in tourism. Be it a zoo or a resort or museum or any historical site, VR enables the creation of virtual experience zones, delivering an immersive touring experience to the users. Wearing a VR headset, users can opt for a virtual walkthrough, know about the sites,  and even be part of events/activities. 

3. VR for Design and Prototyping

Another promising use case of VR is in design and prototyping. According to research, the global market for VR  is expected to grow at a rate of 19.4% by 2025. Probably because virtual prototyping is both cost-effective and time-saving. Unlike the traditional methods of prototyping that require creating a dummy, virtual prototyping enables the design of the prototype in a virtual environment, testing and modifying the same without incurring any additional costs.

4. VR for Shopping

While the retail sector has witnessed a massive hit post-pandemic, it is also among the first few industries to readily adopt virtual reality technology and adapt to the change. The virtual buying experience is now the preferred way of shopping for a majority of customers. In fact, it is predicted that the market of VR for retail would reach $1.8bn by the end of 2022. 

5. VR for Therapy

An evolution in therapeutic processes, virtual reality now offers a safe and risk-free method of treating patients. With the help of dedicated computer programs and devices, VR helps recreate environments, and immerse the patients, enabling them to safely confront their fears in a controlled environment. 

For instance, if someone has a phobia of flying, they can use virtual reality to face this fear (safely) in a therapist’s office. Because the patient knows that they’re safe in the therapist’s office, they can still feel some anxiety but not be overwhelmed by it—and so practising desensitisation techniques can help them overcome their fears.

Future of VR

With lighter headsets, enhanced features, extended interaction and total immersion, virtual reality has a lot more to unveil in times to come. Even though the technology has taken a steep rise, the graph is yet to spike and reach the apex.  From interactive storytelling to affordable medical treatment to more efficient remote-working solutions, VR will soon become a part of our lives, bridging the gap between the physical and the digital world. And when that happens, the possibilities for what we’ll be able to achieve using this technology will be limitless.

We are both excited and curious to see what the future holds. Until then, let’s sit tight and wait!

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