Tag: virtual reality

VR glossary

We are going to be hearing about VR more and more, and with new technology comes new vocabulary. There’s a lot to learn, so let’s get started!

Presence: The feeling that what you are seeing is real, and you are in that reality. It’s a feeling of “being there”.

Field of view: The height and width of your vision. Basically how much you can see around you.

Near Field: Objects close to you are said to be in the Near Field. Because of the way vision works, the closer the object, the more three dimensional it appears.

Far Field: Objects far enough away that they don’t need to be as visibly detailed as objects close to the subject.

Mid Field: Objects that are close enough that they need to be detailed, but far enough away that stereo vision has minimal effect. These objects don’t have to be as detailed as objects in the near field, but more then far field objects.

HMD (Head Mounted Display): This is the part that you put on your head. It contains two separate screens, one for each eye, with each having a lease in front of it that provides magnification and focus.

Latency: This is the amount of time it takes for information to travel out and back. In VR, high latency can cause a delay between head movement and what is displayed on the screen, which can cause nausea in many people.

Resolution: How many pixels make up the image. Usually described by width and height, such as 1920×1080, which means the screen has 1,920 pixels going across its width, and 1,080 going up and down.

Pixel Density: This is a ratio of how many pixels a screen has in a square inch. Usually abbreviated as PPI, for Pixels Per Inch. Two screens can have the same resolution, but drastically different pixel densities. For instance, a 21” computer monitor and a 50” TV can both have a resolution of 1920×1080, but the pixels on the 25” screen are packed much closer together, and are frequently smaller. This results in a clearer image because the blocks of color are closer together. 

Refresh Rate: How frequently the image is replaced on the screen. In VR, a high refresh rate is very important because the image has to be updated frequently, otherwise the human brain becomes uncomfortable and becomes disoriented or nauseous. 

Screen Door Effect: When the images on the screen are magnified like they are in VR, somethings it is possible to see the individual pixels. This gives the effect of looking though a screen door, where there are small out of focus lines in your vision. The higher resolution the screens are, the less noticeable this effect is.

Frame Rate: Frame Rate is the number of times a brand new image is displayed on the screen per second (also known as Frames per Second, or FPS). This is reason this is important for VR is because a low frame rate will cause nausea, due to the delay between what the brain expect to see as the head moves, and what the eyes are seeing. A high frame rate also means smoother movement. For VR to not cause nausea and headaches, the sweet spot seems to be 90-120 FPS. Because the image is being split up, with alternating images for each eye, that means each eye is going to see 45-60 FPS. Any lower and we run into problems.

Room Scale: Room scale refers to a VR experience where you can walk around. Some headsets work better for this then others right now, although updates are coming fast. Right now the HTC Vive is the goto room scale experience to have. Games like Budget Cuts allow you to move around a building, taking out robot security guards in a quest to steal your termination papers. It’s more immersive, but can cause discomfort in some people. 

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10 things that Virtual Reality will change forever

10: Musical concerts

Everyone knows that live performances are the best way to experience music. With VR, we can be in the crowd, on the stage, the music and the people all around us. Like this Paul McCartney performance of Live and Let die on Jaunt VR. Want a less public show? An artist can record an unplugged session, just them and an empty room. They are playing just for you. How much would you pay for that?

9: Tourism

I have been to Rome and Paris and the Great Barrier Reef and the surface of Mars. On my phone, in my living room. It’s rudimentary, but even that is impressive and will only get more immersive as time goes on. Here is a video about a company called Visualise producing a VR tour for South Africa.

8: Home buying

Want to walk through a house before you buy it? No problem! Strap on a headset and take a tour! Sotheby’s is already using the Samsung Gear VR to show tours of homes in LA, New York, and the Hamptons. Find out that the previous interior decorator was an idiot from the comfort of your own home. 

7: Journalism

With VR we can experience the war zone and see the destruction. The New York Times and USA Today have apps for Android and iPhone now. We can be in the middle of the protests or the rally. Emotions and mood are hard to convey in pictures and words, but put me in the middle of it and I understand the energy. 

6: Empathy

It’s hard to understand what it’s like to be verbally or physically assaulted unless it has happened to you. VR is so immersive that we feel the anger and aggression directed at a victim, and we can start to understand the pain and fear that victim suffers. A company called Immersive Journalism is trying do just that. Chris Milk has an excellent TED talk about his quest to create the ultimate empathy machine. Hopefully this technology will help us become more understanding and tolerant. 

5: Relaxation

We live in a noisy world, and more and more of us are living in urban cities. Apps like Guided Meditation put you in a calm, relaxing environment, and escape the cement and steel and bright lights for a little while. Give me one of these and a hammock and I’ll be a happy guy!

4: Long distance communication

If you have ever video chatted with a friend or family member via Skype or FaceTime, then you know that is much better then a simple phone call. Now magnify that by a factor of 10, and you’re just about there. VR will bring us closer together. For business it will mean that a global company can communicate more efficiently and reduce travel costs. This will save huge amounts of time and money and increase productivity across the board. 

3: Gaming

Gaming has always pushed the boundaries of technology.  The first widespread use of VR will be among gamers, and they will be the beta testers for everyone else. Even once VR is widespread, gaming will continue to push the technology forward with new experiences and interfaces. Check out what Void VR is doing for instance.

2: Entertainment

Virtual reality entertainment will explode as creators will no longer be limited to displaying a flat image. Suddenly the viewer is inside the story, able to look at whatever they want, whenever they want. This will present difficult challenges, and many movies will be better presented with a field of view that is wider then it is now, but will still be limited. 3D space is difficult to manage, and won’t be ideal for many applications. Where it will really shine, however, is world building. If you can imagine it, you can create it in 3D space, and people can walk through it. Sports events will be presented in VR, like this years Daytona 500, which will be streamed in real time by a company called NextVR. How would you like to watch your favorite team or sporting event right from the sideline, or any number of other places?

1: Education

Access to information and infrastructure are some of the great limiters on a persons life. With VR, those barriers can be significantly lowered. With VR, you can learn to weld steel anywhere, without touching a torch or using up raw materials. Get in a bunch of practice, take a test using real life materials to prove your skill, and you’re in! Learn to drive a truck without even stepping inside one, take a couple physical tests to prove your skills, and viola! Now you’re a truck driver! StriVR Labs already have systems in use like this already  in the NFL and other sports. Imagine firefighters training in an extremely hot environment, outfitted with dummy equipment and VR headsets. Thanks to an immersive VR world, the firefighters get to practice without catching anything, or anyone, on fire!

Tasks that require extensive practice and repetition are excellent candidates for VR training. Practice scenarios can be built and reused without wasting resources. People in rural areas and developing counties can practice and learn and improve their lives anywhere there is a computer.

Virtual Reality may be not be real, but it is limitless. And it’s going to make a huge difference in our world.

I want to know what you think about VR. What do you think the risks are? What are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below, and let’s talk about it!