What is the Definition & Meaning of Virtual Reality or VR?

When people mentioned about virtual reality or VR, does the image of people wearing a helmet covering their eyes comes into your mind? I think most of us do. Is that enough to explain what is VR is all about? Well, the definition and meaning of “Virtual Reality” or also known as VR is the method or technique to simulate the feeling or experience of being inside a simulated or artificial environment which are usually generated by computer or machine. Other popular names associated with VR are artificial reality, virtual environment, telepresence or can also be cyberspace.

Nicole Stenger the VR Pioneer
Nicole Stenger, one of the VR Pioneer.

To experience VR, we need to use immersive multimedia technology since it can recreate the sensory experience such as sight, sound, smell, touch and perhaps taste. Once user is “teleported” inside the virtual environment (VE), user can have the capability to explore the world by moving around it. The user might be able to manipulate the virtual objects or performs some actions in the virtual environment by using a special gloves that sometimes called as data gloves. The touch interaction or force feedback mechanism is usually called with the names haptics systems.

NASA astronaut during VR training
NASA Astronaut during Virtual Reality Training.

But most of the time, the VR focus is more on the sense of sight or real-life viewing capability. Hence, to achieve this, most virtual reality system will produce the 3D images that emphasized on depth where each left and right eye will see the specially produced images for each eye respectively. To experience this 3D effect, usually users are required to wear a special head-mounted display (HMD) that will display the 3D images on the lenses.

The ideal virtual reality is like the one shown in “The Matrix” or “The Thirteenth Floor” movie, where the subjects which are the people (or victims) is not aware that they are inside the simulated or virtual environment. Well, it might still be a long way to go to reach there…

For more info about virtual reality, you can read it at:
1) “Virtual reality” from Wikipedia.
2) “What is Virtual Reality” from vrs.org.uk.
3) “How Virtual Reality Works” from HowStuffWorks.

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