The Science of Virtual Reality

virtual and augmented reality

The Science of Virtual Reality

Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) is an exciting new breed of technologies that combine state of the art hardware with state of the art software to produce a completely new experience for the user. Augmented reality (also known as augmented virtual reality, or VR) is an advanced technology which creates a digital image of the real world as though it was rendered using specialized hardware devices, such as video cameras, lasers or sensors. In actuality, the computer generated images are a product of three-dimensional computer graphics. The brain of the VR system is designed to work in conjunction with natural visual processing areas of the human brain, such as the eyes, ears, brain, etc., in order to produce an extremely realistic virtual experience. This eliminates the need for any type of input from the user.

Unlike true reality, which is described by the physical objects people see around them, virtual reality is determined by the users themselves. When a person steps into a virtual reality display, they are already present. They are sitting down, lying down or even running/swimming in their virtual reality display. In this sense, it is much more similar to what we would call reality. However, in addition to the reality factor, there are also other factors involved. One of those factors is motion capture.

Motion capture is the process of capturing a user’s virtual reality interaction with another user of that same application. Typically, a camera mounted by hand on the user’s computer captures the entire scene as it occurs. Those captured scenes are then processed by the application in real time, providing the user with a fully interactive experience.

The process begins with the capture of a video. A video capture device, such as a digital camera or smart phone with a built-in LCD screen, is used. A video is then transferred from the device to the user through a web browser. The smart phone’s built-in camera has a high-resolution, clearer image than its camera-toting brother, and may include higher frame rates for greater clarity.

After the transfer of the video, the captured video is composited with an environment based on the user’s specification. In other words, the video is rendered into a three-dimensional scene with a specified number of points. Based on the specification of the user, the environment is automatically created, which may include basic shapes (box, sphere, hemisphere), textured landscapes (logic board, cone), physical features (grass, soil, snow), and more. The final output of the software creates a fully three-dimensional, virtual reality display that precisely reflects the user’s actions within that environment.

The display technologies used in a virtual reality system need to take into consideration a wide variety of considerations. For example, a holographic display might be a better choice for a space station simulator than a traditional 2D image display. Virtual reality display needs to take into account head movements, body movements, environmental factors, lighting, texture mapping, and many other variables to create a realistic display experience.

The final step of creating a virtual reality system is to enhance the user’s interaction with the display. This can take a number of forms, from providing additional capabilities for point-and-click movement to fully customizing the display. Some virtual reality software allows users to construct their own virtual worlds. Others include a system that allows a user to travel through virtual environments using freely available 3D transportation software. A fully featured game may allow a user to fully customize their keyboard, mouse, and screen resolution, along with the action on screen.

Video gaming is the most obvious use of virtual reality systems. However, other applications are quickly beginning to appear. For example, the military is currently researching the potential use of this technology for warfare. Video phones and Internet chat have also shown the potential for wide-scale uses. The future of virtual reality is now.