Tech

What is virtual reality?

VR is becoming more popular and accessible every year, but what is virtual reality? Here’s everything you need to know about VR.

Virtual reality has taken the tech and gaming worlds by storm in recent years, but what exactly is VR and how is it impacting technology?

Read on to find out everything you need to know about VR and why it’s going to play such a big part in gaming.

What is VR?

As you may already know, VR stands for Virtual Reality. Virtual reality is what it sounds like. It is a world that does not exist in reality, but is created by computers and can be experienced with VR glasses.

VR headsets allow users to be immersed in a simulated 3D reality. Typically, users can look around in 360 degrees and even interact with the virtual environment and move around the room, but that’s not the case with all VR headsets and experiences.

VR headsets use stereoscopic displays to immerse you in the simulated world, with many coming with controllers that allow you to see your hands in front of you and fully interact with all of the simulated elements in the virtual experience.

The display is split between your eyes and should create a believable experience, with the overriding goal of adjusting the user’s head and eye movements to the changes in the virtual world to create the illusion of an alternate reality.

Depending on what VR headset you’re using and what experience you’re trying to recreate, VR can be used to create simple experiences like viewing a 360-degree photo or more complex experiences like gaming and interactive movies.

It is important to note that VR is not the same as AR (Augmented Reality), which stands for Augmented Reality. AR superimposes virtual images and simulations on real environments, with Pokémon Go being one of the most popular examples.

How can I experience VR?

There are several ways to experience VR these days. You can look at VR headsets from Oculus or PlayStation, which are more expensive but offer a high-end experience.

Google also offers the Google Cardboard, which turns your smartphone into a VR viewer for just £10, meaning you don’t necessarily have to spend any money to experience virtual reality.

What VR options are there?

We’ll list a few of the options available for anyone hoping to get into VR, although we recommend checking out our best VR headsets list so you can check out the best options currently available.

It’s important to note that every VR experience looks a little different, whether that’s due to the number of sensors you need to set up, the resolution of the screen, or the price of the headset itself.

Is VR worth it?

As we’ve talked time and time again about how VR works and the experiences it can offer, it’s also important to ask if it’s really worth it. That’s a tough question to answer, although it seems like VR isn’t so accessible to most people right now that it’s worth it.

A lot of that comes down to price, because if you’re looking for a quality VR experience, you’re going to have to pay a pretty penny. One of the cheapest headsets we’ve tested, the Oculus Quest 2, starts at £299, with some premium models hitting close to the £1000 mark.

Also, many VR headsets don’t work right out of the box, whether it’s connecting to a gaming PC or setting up multiple sensors that can track your movement, VR headsets aren’t as easy to use as many gaming consoles out there.

Also, the market for VR games isn’t as saturated as regular games, which means you might have to wait months for new VR titles to be released. This is not the case with other consoles such as PS5, Xbox Series S/X and Switch, which release new versions several times a year, as well as a huge backlog of games that can be accessed at any time.

That being said, anyone who is willing to put their mind to it and want an immersive gaming experience shouldn’t be too discouraged. Just keep in mind that VR isn’t quite as accessible as many of the other options out there.

VR jargon to watch out for

For anyone unfamiliar with VR, it’s important to understand what the specs mean before committing to a new headset. Below you will find the most commonly used words related to VR and what they mean.

Resolution: Because VR headsets can come with two screens, one for each eye, you may see that some headsets are listed with two resolutions. One refers to the resolution of the individual screen and one to the combined resolution of the screen.

For example, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both have two OLED displays with 1,200 x 1,080 pixels.

As with most things, the higher the resolution, the better the image. Because the headset sits so close to your eyes, you may see each pixel more clearly than you would on a phone or TV screen.

field of view: Many of the companies releasing VR headsets will make a big deal out of their respective device’s field of view. Most will be around the 100 degree mark. For comparison, humans are able to see up to 180 degrees horizontally without moving their eyes.

When it comes to VR, the larger the field of view, the more immersive and realistic the experience becomes.

refresh rate: Essentially, this is the number of frames per second that the screen displays. When it comes to VR, refresh rate is even more important, as a higher rating helps increase the sense of realism.

So while a monitor looks pretty smooth with a 60Hz refresh rate, a higher rate on a headset that’s trying to create a sense of virtual reality means a better experience. Between 90 and 120 Hz ensure a smooth and immersive VR outing.

Persistence: Persistence refers to the amount of time each pixel on the display is lit and is important when trying to limit motion sickness. A full persistence display renders one frame and displays it on screen until the next frame.

In VR, this causes problems with judder and motion blur, as the frame is only correct in relation to where you’re looking. That means if you keep turning your head and the refresh rate isn’t high enough to keep up with your movement and re-rendering each frame in relation to your point of view, you’ll start to feel the effects of the motion and you’ll start feeling sick as the Information on the screen does not keep up with your movements.

With low persistence, the VR display only lights up the right pixels as long as you’re looking at the right place, and instantly dims them as soon as the scene isn’t relevant to your head movement. With a high enough refresh rate, this continuous flickering and dimming of pixels becomes imperceptible to the human eye, resulting in a much smoother and less nauseating experience.

https://www.trustedreviews.com/explainer/what-is-virtual-reality-2940543?utm_source=keystone&utm_medium=keystone_core_reviews_rss&utm_campaign=trusted+reviews What is virtual reality?

Chris Barrese

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