Tuesday, 8 September 2015

What is Virtual Reality and what should it be? (Essay)

What is Virtual Reality and what should it be?
Virtual reality is a fully immersive computer simulated environment that gives the user the feeling of being in that environment, instead on the one they are actually in.
A lot of video games have already developed the technology to put the user in the interactive world; in the driver’s seat of a car or on the battlefield in a first person shooter (fps). However your perception of reality is not altered. You are simply a spectator overseeing the events happening in that environment.
In order for your brain to perceive a virtual environment there are a few key factors that are crucial for the creation of an immersive experience necessary for virtual reality.
While there are a few other methods of display, one of the most popular ways to experience virtual reality is through a headset. These devices use stereoscopic display to make what you’re viewing seem 3-dimensional and to give realistic depth to the image you’re looking at. Basically exactly the same as how our eyes see anyway.
However, stereoscopic displays alone does not make for an immersive experience. The ability to track a user’s motion – particularly the movements of both their head and eyes – allows the image displayed in the headset to actually change with your perspective. If you were to be wearing one of these headsets and you turned your head to the left, the display will render whatever is to your left in that environment.
Besides vision certain virtual reality experiences will also include other sensory stimulation like sound and possible even tactile feedback for touch.
Lastly, in order to truly alter the perception of our reality there has to be a certain level of virtual interactivity.
True interactivity should allow a certain degree of user-controlled navigation. So you should be able to walk forwards, backwards or turn through space in the virtual environment so to avoid the feeling of watching an elaborate 3dimentional movie.
When we are able to freely move around in these environments and even interact with things in it our brains can truly perceive that world is real and thus VIRTUAL REALTIY.
Virtual reality has a lot of practical uses outside of just awesome video games and has been used for many training simulations across many fields. Most commonly for soldiers, pilots and doctors.
Virtual reality has seen somewhat of a resurrection lately thanks to exceedingly improved technology and hardware.
Devices like the Oculus Rift have advanced the virtual reality experience by including superior graphics, improved latency and a wider range of motion. Reduced costs of components are also allowing virtual reality devices to become a lot more affordable for consumers.
The only feature in current virtual reality technology that is missing is taste. But taste can be a strange sense to handle given that not only that your mouth is a lot more sensitive to things in comparison to your hands, but also because the sensation of having food in your mouth or running down your throat is INTERNAL.
Usually when people refer to tactile feedback in regards to virtual reality experiences, they are mainly referring to the way something feels by hand, not necessarily the feeling something gives you. 
However, due to how rapidly virtual reality experiences are advancing I believe that it is only a matter of time before our current day-to-day reality is replaced with some lazy technological representation of whatever we program it to be. This could cause for serious issues with growing generations.In VICE magazine’s documentary about the “Korean Gaming Generation” there is a lot of content about how “addicted” these children are to playing video games. 
It is reported that 80% of the population below the age of 25 are in PC bombs (better known as PC cafes) every day of the week, and these are just common computer games. Can you imagine what would happen if people could escape their current reality by putting on a headset and lounging out for a couple hours?
It could turn everyone into socially inept simpletons whose way of connecting with friends is logging on to some advanced version of virtual reality HabboHotel.

Another key point against virtual reality progressing to such a stage is that literally everything around you would fall to pieces. Almost every major company would lose catastrophic amounts of money, thus initiating something like The Great Depression. Seems a little drastic, however it’s not improbable.
So in summation, yes virtual reality technology can be an incredibly powerful tool to aid in both professional and recreational activities, but it also has its flaws (with potential links to the hindrance of physical health). It should be obviously well-built to decrease the possibilities of physically damaging eye-sight but also should be monitored and restricted to some form of guidelines to stop people losing touch with reality to this new and awe-inspiring technology.


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