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Virtual Reality (VR) basics for newcomers

You don’t understant anything about Virtual Reality? In this post I will try to deliver some basic keypoints and current implications as VR is the next big thing. We will also discuss why many people confuse VR with the other upcoming consumer trend; 360 videos.

Virtual Reality basics

By definition Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. VR uses sensors to track the movement of your head. Whenever you turn your head in the real world, the computer exactly mimics your movement in the rendered world. VR tricks your brain into thinking that what you see is real, on both a conscious and subconscious level.

True VR constitutes simulated environments, whether replications of actual places or fictional worlds, presented via high-powered headgear combined with other accessories like gloves, buttons and other. Users can move around the environments and interact with them and for that reason significant computing power is necessary.

Types of VR

There are currently two types of VR systems – mobile VR and desktop VR. The Oculus Rift was introduced as a quality headset for desktop users earlier this year. It comes with a built-in display, but relies on external PC for power (not wireless). The mobile VR combines smartphone technology and special optics, providing portability and a lower cost.

Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, must be connected to a PC with a strong graphic card in order to deploy their power.

Other versions can work by just using smartphones combined with a pair of lenses, but the experience is limited to what sort of environment the app can generate. (see Samsung Gear VR).

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The execution may proved quite difficult. Some people are highly sensitive to the slightest lack of harmony between the movement detected by their inner ear and the motion that they see with their eyes. If the VR content consistently shows frames of animation that are off by a few milliseconds, people will feel ill effects.

Fortunately, the high-end headsets have solved the motion sickness problem for most people. Personally, I did not experienced any problem while trying PSVR, Oculus and Gear VR.

 -360-videos are not VR

Common misconception is that a 360-degree video is 3D video. In fact, most 360-degree video recorded by average users is a 360-degree sphere which means videos will look flat when viewed in VR.

  • You can search for “360 3D VR Video” in the YouTube app.
  • The New York Times’ NYT VR videos for viewing with Google Cardboard are really cool, but they’re not VR.
  • Looking on Flickr VR is really cool; also not VR.

These are 360-degree videos and photos that capture the entire scene around the camera — whether it’s shot on professional equipment or a consumer camera.

You can have a look here:

When played back in a VR headset, it can feel immersive — but what you see is real footage, not a simulation.

You can look around and feel like you’re exploring the scene, but you can’t really interact with it and you can’t control the path within it.

You’re limited to what cameras record. It’s a new way to photograph and to create films, but you can watch most of these videos and photos on a regular flat 2D screen, too. 360 degree video is not the same thing as VR.

Nevertheless, 360-degree content will be the first immersive “VR” experience most people will have. The amount of 360 video will continue to grow, made by professionals storytellers as well as everyday users.

To be clear, 360 video can be cool, and even transformative. And it can be transmitted live: we’ve already experienced pro basketball games and conferences in VR.

VR can become a powerful marketing tool for brands, who will create VR websites that would work well both on flat screen and VR devices. The future is here and the time has come brands to figure out new forms of consumer engagement.

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