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Virtual Reality: The Creation of New Worlds

Virtual Reality (VR) has become a ubiquitous topic that is enthusiastically received across industries and promises nothing less than a revolution in the consumption of digital content. The technology is not only celebrated by early adopters and technology enthusiasts, more and more large companies such as IKEA or Audi make their products available to potential customers via VR. And beyond the areas of communication and entertainment, there are also great potentials in education, research, medicine, and therapy.

But what is VR in general, and how will it change our media usage behavior in the future?

VR initially designates an artificial reality created by special hardware and software. This can be a realistic archaeological visit of past cultures or a simulated flight in a spaceship, but also a scale tour of a construction project. All this is hard to compare with existing 3D technologies – and even more difficult to describe without experiencing VR itself.

The core of modern VR hardware is the VR glasses (or headset, head-mounted display) with two high-resolution displays for displaying artificially generated images and a coupled sensor for detecting the position and position of the head. If less than 11 milliseconds pass between the sensor and the image, the so-called sensor-to-photon latency creates the impression of being “present” in virtual reality.

Currently, two classes of VR devices are available in the market:

  • High-end headsets such as Oculus Rift or the game developer Valve co-designed HTC Vive, which are connected to a conventional PC

  • Mobile headsets such as Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR or the cardboard card Google Cardboard, which are much cheaper and work with smartphones

In addition, Sony is working on its PlayStation VR system, which will be released in late 2016 for the PlayStation 4, Microsoft is currently developing the holographic augmented reality solution Hololens, and also major chip manufacturers such as AMD and NVIDIA research on their own VR modules.

The thought leaders of the technology industry assume that VR will shape our everyday life in the next few years and will change our media consumption. In addition to games and VR experiences such as the climb of Mount Everest or a documentary trip to Pripyat in the “Chernobyl VR Project” VR could then have a strong influence on media, industry, design, architecture, science, education, medicine, communication – so to the whole society. According to a recent forecast by Goldman-Sachs, VR revenues will overtake the TV market by 2025, Like TVs, PCs, or game consoles today, VR headsets could be standard equipment in many homes. We are still at the beginning of an extremely exciting time, where programmers, media professionals, and artists are trying to penetrate this new technology and create innovative experiences.

While talking with DL Compare we agreed that VR is in many ways a technology driver because the demands on chip speed, display quality, and efficient software are extremely high. Currently, most applications are just logical advancements of what has already been experienced. However, VR makes these applications easier to implement, more immersive, and adds an extra level of interaction, as these examples show:

  • IKEA customers can make their new kitchen true to scale and in a realistic graphical representation of their home virtually.

  • The car manufacturer Audi installs VR stations in showrooms, where customers can view virtually any car configuration virtually to the original.

  • The film industry is increasingly investing in VR movies, including Oculus’ own “Story Studio”.

  • Sports events could also be broadcast in VR in the near future, from the perspective of a top spot right in the stadium.

  • A gamer can experience space battles with maximum immersion directly from the cockpit close up.

  • Consumers of digital erotica can interact with realistically presented digital copies of their favorite performers.

The technology is already in use in the fields of science, therapy, and medicine:

  • Treatment of phantom pain in amputation patients

  • VR-based medical diagnostics, surgical technique training, telemedicine, and extended surgical field of view

  • Therapy of soldiers with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Various studies suggest VR can also be used to treat other anxiety disorders.

  • Simulations in the training of pilots, astronauts, train drivers, etc.

For example, an almost infinitely large, freely configurable virtual space could be conceived in which millions of networked people from all over the world communicate and interact together, free of linguistic and physical barriers. This space could be an egalitarian Utopia, in which origin, age, skin color, physical impairments and language no longer play a role. Or a louder, more colorful nightmare, permeated by advertising and manipulation, into which the masses flee from reality. Social isolation from reality, the flight into a supposedly nicer world and the associated addictiveness are serious problems, comparable to discussions about multiplayer online games like “World of Warcraft“.

But no matter what direction VR is going to take, the technology is already there, and it will not disappear again. Following the general development trend of the technology, the next generation of headsets will be cheaper, smaller, lighter and more comfortable, and thus likely to enter the mass market. Now, above all, the ideas of creatives are needed to create unique content. Given the speed at which VR technology evolves, these ideas have the potential to fundamentally change many areas of our lives.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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