Blog : virtual reality

Virtual Reality: Life within a Screen

Virtual Reality: Life within a Screen

Virtual reality (VR) is a new, exciting technology to be explored. Only a few years ago, it seemed to be something straight out of science fiction; its roots can be traced into film history of the 1950s. The ‘Sensorama’, invented in 1956, presented short films in specially outfitted movie theaters with corresponding sounds and smells. Its creator, Morton Heilig, used this early VR technology to further immerse the viewer into a storyline.

Though no vocabulary existed for the technology until 30 years after this cinematic appeal to the senses, today Heilig is recognized as the “father of virtual reality”.

Modern virtual reality is experienced by its user through a wearable screen. It encodes head, eye, and motion tracking and conveys them onto an LCD display. This makes it possible to transform 2D images into 3D environments. By manipulating the senses, the user accepts the “reality” presented to them.

With no separation between your sight and the ‘world’ in front of you, virtual reality allows for a deeper submersion than does augmented reality.

The VR boom in the late 1980s was too short-lived to make real strides. Silicon Valley’s VPL invested heavily in the new technology only to declare bankruptcy a few years later. After the market failure of several VR systems in the 90s, interest in its development was lost until very recently.

In the last decade, virtual reality has been sought after by innovators as being the latest in computing technology. According to Palmer Luckey, it is the “final platform”.

Luckey founded Oculus VR, which sold to Facebook for $2.3 billion in 2014. As an authority in the industry, he has a definite understanding of the limitless applications of VR.

As its original backers hoped, VR is already advancing the fields of education, science, exploration and career training. It has also been implemented in treatments for lazy eye and PTSD. VPL’s original founder, Jaron Lanier has made the modest comment that virtual reality is merely the “next logical step” in human innovation.

Following Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR, Mark Zuckerberg took to his personal page to write: “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected…we can start focusing on what platforms will come next.” Zuckerberg added that “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream…The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together.”

Augmented reality

Augmented reality

Augmented Reality is the melding of the real world with the digital world found on your smartphone. Think “Pokemon Go.”

You have more than likely encountered augmented reality, even if the term is unfamiliar. It is not to be confused with virtual reality, another recent development in the tech world. AR is experienced alongside the real world, while VR simulates its own reality.

Charles Arthur, a contributor to The Guardian, describes AR as taking “a real-life scene, or (better) a video of a scene, and add[ing] some sort of explanatory data to it so that you can better understand what’s going on, or who the people in the scene are, or how to get to where you want to go”.

By blurring the line between what is real and what is not, AR enhances the digital experience.

The most well-known examples of augmented reality in today’s market are Snapchat filters and Pokémon Go. While it is more easily recognizable in entertainment, AR has also been utilized in marketing, educational and retail ventures.

Augmented reality is also starting to play a role in the workplace. It has been adapted for certain hands-on training exercises. An employee’s virtual presence erases the need for direct contact with different environments.

Where direct involvement is risky, the immersive qualities of AR allows for otherwise impossible experiences. For example, NASA has started to use it for scientific research. This enables advances in exploration that humans couldn’t achieve. We can’t send a person to Mars, but technology is taking that giant leap for us.

In the near future, you might not even be able to tell who is seeing the world through an AR wearable. Going through a single day without experiencing augmented reality in some way might even be impossible.

As the technology behind AR continues to evolve, its limits will be pushed even further. Think about how Pong and other early video games now seem so primitive, yet they were what introduced many the members of today’s workforce to computing. Their innovations have increased the capabilities of operating systems hundreds of times over.

These same kinds of giant strides in AR are still to come. The next generation might be taught about the game-changing nature of Pokémon Go just as today’s youth learn about Tetris.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has already labeled augmented reality as the ‘next new thing’. Anyone who is familiar with the tech industry will agree: now that AR has captured Apple’s eye, every competitor will be clamoring to take it to new heights.

Virtual Reality meets your world

Virtual Reality meets your world

The future is now. The once faint dream of experiencing life in an altered dimension is now within the grasp of our fingertips with Virtual Reality (VR) technology. 2016 appears to be the year virtual reality devices are set to take off, with an expected surge of devices ready to hit the mainstream. The technology is familiar, having been around for decades, but now the integration of the technology with gaming, social, and mobile platforms has the technology heating up. Companies like Samsung, Sony, Google, and Oculus are vying for market share with their renditions of virtual-reality enabling devices.

 At the forefront of the technology sits the Oculus Rift, the headset that started this new wave of deceives diving into alternate dimensions. The high-tech headset plugs right into your computer’s DVI and USB ports. The Rift tracks your head movements projecting 3-Dimensional imagery onto its screens at a 2160 x 1200 resolution. Then there’s the HTC Vive, which has a chance to usurp the Rift, with its 70 sensors that offer full range head tracking, minus the motion sickness. You might need to install motion sensors around your house, but it’s worth considering.

The options are plentiful. There is the PlayStation VR, the Razor OSVR, & the Microsoft Hololens just to name a few, but the most interesting VR device may turn out to be the Google’s interpretation, known as the Google Cardboard. Yes, the VR headset is called the Google Cardboard because it is made out of cardboard. A bold idea, but it is a true testament to the wonders of the smartphone with the mobile device having the ability to tap into the VR market. Apparently, your smartphone is all you need if you desire that out-of-body experience. All of the necessary gyroscopic sensors and positioning systems to track your head movements are already in your smartphone.

The virtual reality market is diverse, competitive, and pricey. While some devices may appear to have an advantage, there’s no telling how decisive that advantage may be. What you can expect is stiff competition. These high-powered devices will have a bevy of options when it comes to games. Developers will be working overtime to create games that maximize the experience of the VR devices. You can expect to be visually impressed with better camera options, and you can expect unlimited potential to use the device beyond the confines of your living room. With the technology ready to be release you have to sit back and ask yourselves this question. Will this just be a trend or will virtual reality be a mainstay & pioneer of a new breed of technology for generations to come?

Hololens Holoportation: Virtual 3D Teleportation in real-time

Hololens Holoportation: Virtual 3D Teleportation in real-time

The Microsoft Corporation has created a functional, virtual 3D teleportation system that is a mixture of multiple high-powered lens-displays, cameras, and computers. It allows for the creation of multiple virtual people in real-time, creating interaction between the participants. The system brings people from remote locations together in a single space – a virtual environment. The developers call this the “Hololens.”

In 1977, a generation of film-goers was swept up by the film “Star Wars”. Viewers were shuttled off to a distant corner of the universe that was filled with mystery, adventure, and amazing technologies. There, a holographic image of Princess Leia appears to Obi-Wan Kenobi, pleading that he’s her “only hope.”

Now, almost forty years later, that holographic dream has become a reality. Microsoft has designed their Hololens Holoportation system. It is the digital interface between imaginative dreams and amazing tech developments.

Holoportation is a new type of 3D capture technology that allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed and transmitted anywhere in the world in real time.” – Microsoft

In the demonstration video, Microsoft Research’s Shahram Izadi illustrates the practical applications of this technology.

This development shatters our perception of the boundaries of space and distance in the physical world. Sit back and enjoy. Listen to the development team describe the reality of real-time interaction with computer generated images of real people. No, we don’t need droids to share these messages. The reality of this message delivery system is undeniably amazing.