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Virtual Reality: A perfect simulation?

Virtual reality (VR) is already here, but how good will it get? In Part 1:

» Conventional VR

» Additional technologies to stimulate all the senses

In Part 2: Futuristic VR to blow your mind!

Part 1

When your field of vision is covered by a huge IMAX cinema screen, or a VR headset, your brain starts to believe what you see. If you are watching a helicopter fly low over a river in a valley you start to feel your body move, and if you are watching the view on a roller-coaster you might start to scream and feel sick.

So clearly there is an opportunity for VR in the leisure and entertainment industries. Not surprisingly, VR in computer games is expected to be big business: Deloitte Global predicts that virtual reality will have its first billion dollar year in 2016, with about $700 million in hardware sales, and the remainder from content; with the majority from video games.

Meanwhile the quality and realism of computer generated images (CGI) continues to get better, with some images looking very realistic. For example, a lot of the special effects in films are now CGI.

So we can be pretty confident that the visual aspect of VR will become more than adequate, and probably indistinguishable from reality. But what about other aspects of VR, such as audio, smell, taste, touch?

» There are already audio systems that accurately simulate 3D surround sound.

» Systems that generate smells have also been developed for stores, theme parks, VR headsets, and soon TVs. Although the number of smells is currently limited, it is expected that this will vastly increase.

» It has been demonstrated that electrical signals on the tongue can pursuade the brain to think there is a particular taste on the tongue (which is enhanced with the presence of associated smells).

» Touch can be simulated in a number of ways: haptic feedback devices can provide resistance forces, vibrations, shapes, and (limited) textures. There are also jackets that simulate being shot (for example) in shooter games.

So video and audio are already pretty good, and we can expect all of the other senses to be stimulated at some point in the not too distant future [2020 / 2025 ?].

In Part 2: Futuristic VR to blow your mind!

This topic includes the following:

» Virtual Reality: A perfect simulation? Part 2


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