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What is virtual reality?

Jun 23, 2021 | Architecture Tips & Resources

Virtual reality or VR is a simulation that allows us to interact with a virtual world through a technological device such as virtual reality glasses and explore it as if we were in situ.

And not only through virtual reality glasses. There are gloves, headphones, controls, and even special clothing to enhance and complete the immersion experience and teleport us to places and scenarios that seem real not only by sight or hearing but also through physical sensations. 

How does virtual reality work?

Virtual reality is more than putting a screen over your eyes. Our brain places us in a virtual world through this technology, and our body responds and reacts as if we were there. 

But how do virtual reality glasses make us believe that we are in another place? The main objective of virtual reality glasses is to trick our brains by showing the same scene in two different angles to each eye to simulate depth. 

Virtual reality (VR) glasses have a stereoscopic screen that shows two different angles of the same image to each eye to achieve that. On the other hand, the image that we observe through the glasses can follow us when we move, thanks to a chip capable of tracking rotation and movement. There are two types of tracking style:

  • Head crawling. With the objective of achieving this effect and making the experience even more real, typical sensors, such as the gyroscope, accelerometer, or magnetometer, are used. These sensors make it possible for the image to accompany movement when turning the head up and down or laterally.
  • Tracking the position. The virtual glasses containing this type of tracking detect when we move in a space or room, which exponentially improves the immersion experience.
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How Does Virtual Reality works

Virtual reality apps

Dream trips without leaving home, fun, adrenaline, and more are some of the sensations and experiences that we associate with what we understand by virtual reality. Still, the truth is that this technology can bring us much more than entertainment. 

Virtual reality allows us to try new sports and train at home, dance as if we were at a virtual music festival, tour a city 360 degrees from Google Street View or visit a zoo and get closer to the animals than in a safari in Africa. And not only that, in other fields such as education or medicine, virtual reality is also taking on particular importance. 

In fact, according to the creators of Oculus VR, an American company that develops virtual reality technology, in the future, games will only represent 50% of all the activities carried out through these experiences. 

As we say, this technology, which was born in the second half of the last century, has initially expanded in the leisure and entertainment field. Still, the truth is that it has already transcended other sectors such as the real estate industry, education, medicine, tourism, or gastronomy. But how exactly do they use it? We tell you:

Real estate

Real estate agencies and developers use virtual reality as a technological solution that allows them to differentiate themselves. For example, thanks to virtual tours, they can offer an immersive service and experience for clients to visit the home of their dreams with their own eyes, as if they were right there.

And the thing is that in real estate marketing campaigns, the image is the queen. For this reason, real estate companies often use this type of innovation together with renderings or realistic digital images created from 2D or 3D models—technology at the service of home sales.

From Plus Render, we offer the interior and exterior design service through virtual reality to remodel spaces and see how they would look, such as the distribution of your new furniture or the remodeling of your home to get a real visual idea of your project.

Education

Virtual reality is based on providing real experiences. You can help so much in the field of education! Learning through emotions and experiences is invaluable for students, who can feel the excitement of, for example, diving into the ocean and discovering the different species, contemplating pyramids, temples, or cities, and even traveling the space and land on other planets. 

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Virtual Reality in Education

Medicine

Virtual reality has been used in the medical field for several years. One of its main uses is related to cases of anxiety disorders, to relieve pain in cancer patients or reduce obesity. Also, virtual reality is used in medicine so that medical personnel can be trained to perform surgical interventions or incredibly complex operations.

Tourism and gastronomy

Traveling without leaving home is possible thanks to virtual reality. VR (Virtual reality) can be used in tourism to simulate that we are in a city, in a museum, on a route through architectural ruins or natural spaces, among others.

On the other hand, traveling through the palate is also more real than ever, thanks to virtual reality glasses. With this technology, it is possible to travel virtually to other places while we taste new flavors.

What types of virtual reality exist?

There are different ways to classify the variations of virtual reality: immersive, mixed, and non-immersive. What does each one consist of?

  • Immersive virtual reality. The user feels inside the virtual world and uses different devices to achieve an improved experience, such as glasses, gloves, special suits, or helmets. 
  • Mixed virtual reality or augmented reality. Mixed reality superimposes images or videos on a screen that shows reality through a mobile camera, smart glasses, or headphones. An example of this type of virtual reality is the famous Pokémon Go application. Mixed virtual reality and augmented virtual reality are often used as similar concepts.
  • Non-immersive virtual reality. Also known as semi-immersive, this variation of virtual reality uses a monitor or screen as a window to the virtual world. Its interaction is through a keyboard, microphone, joystick, or mouse.

Differences between virtual reality and augmented reality

Many people confuse the concept of virtual reality with augmented reality. Different software and hardware companies are betting on these new solutions, raising doubts when distinguishing them. What is the difference between one type and another?

The main difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) lies in the type of immersion. While the virtual reality experience is much more immersive and authentic, since we teleport to a virtual world through virtual glasses, augmented reality happens in our real world, where virtual elements such as objects or images appear. 

Do you remember how Nintendo’s Pokémon Go, a game played by millions of users around the world, works? With this mobile application that works through augmented reality, it is possible to locate virtual objects in our real world from our mobile. Another example is practically trying on clothes, glasses, or makeup with this technology and seeing how it would look on us. 

In short, while augmented reality mixes elements of the real and virtual world, in the case of virtual reality, everything happens in a totally non-existent and virtual world that is designed to make it seem true to us.

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