Virtual reality, put in the simplest terms, is an artificial 3D interactive environment, in which one can have a sensory experience using special glasses and equipment connected to a computer or phone. The mix of reality and imagination can, for example, allow the wearer to watch a football match at home and experience the match as if in the stadium.
Virtual reality has myriad applications beyond entertainment. Prospective pilots can train without a real plane, saving money, effort in a completely safe environment. Medical students can learn how to perform complex surgical procedures on a virtual body, in a very ‘real’ feeling setting. In another example people who suffer from a phobia (such as a fear of heights or insects) can access a virtual reality environment, which can help them accept and even overcome their fears.
Virtual reality allows gamers to enter a deeper, more interactive environment in their favorite games. As software and equipment improve, the possibilities for virtual reality seem endless.
Virtual Reality headsets:
- Oculus Rift
The first headset is the best currently available. It is connected to a computer via USB and contains a gyroscope that monitors all movements. With the Oculus Rift one enters a world with a wide range of games, in a resolution of 1080 pixels and 360 degrees. Prices start at $599
- HTC Vive
The Rift’s biggest competitor in terms of specifications. The Vive come with wireless controllers for gaming. It also includes a gyroscope that monitors your movement and has a resolution of 1080 pixels with 360-degree scenery. There is significant cooperation between HTC and the gaming industry – especially Valve, famous for games such as Counter Strike. This cooperation is expected to bring to the market a significant number of games that support the virtual reality features of Vive specifically. Vive will set you back an eye watering $799
- Samsung-only smartphone-based GearVR
A slightly different offering in that this headset is used in conjunction with a Samsung device. Galaxy Note 4, Note 5, S7, or S6 are the compatible devices. The resolution of 1440 pixels creates a fantastic virtual reality experience but doesn’t offer as much as the dedicated headsets. Whilst they support mostly only video at the moment, gaming and apps are on their way. $99 and a compatible smartphone.