So for this topic I interpreted it as a device that changed or augmented the perception of one of your senses. And thus for today I will be presenting on VR glasses, a device that not only changes what you see but will be the new medium of the future and a device that will radically change the industry.
What is VR
VR is the use of computer technology to create an artificial simulated environment. In other words, virtual reality.
Rather than have viewers see the experience from behind a scree, viewers are placed inside the experience.
Currently viewers are usually placed into this virtual reality through a Head Mounted Display (HMD) that works with the viewers sense of sight.
A (really) brief History
Virtual Reality to most of us would seem like a recent technology of the future. Even now, companies and labs are still trying to perfect it for the mass market. However, VR technology has its roots deeper into history than what we thought.
- Created by film maker Morton Heilig
- It was meant to give viewers an immersive 3D experience with full colour 3D video, audio, vibrations, smell and atmospheric effects, such as wind.
- This was done with a vibrating chair, stereo speakers, a stereostopic screen and scent producers.
- Morton Heilig also patented a head mounted display version of this.
- Think of the Shrek 4D theatre at Universal Studios Singapore theme park.
The Sword of Democles (1968)
- Invented by Ivan Sutherland
- The first VR Head Mounted Display
- Showed simple 3D wire frame shapes whose perspective changed depending on the movement of the viewer’s head.
- The images were super imposed on actual environments therefore this could be seen as the birth of augmented reality too.
- Designed by Kruger
- Used Projecters and huge screens inside of a dark room instead of a HMD
- Viewers could interact with projected silhouettes of other people from other rooms.
- Scott Foster was commissioned by NASA to develop a VR training environment for astronauts
Sega VR (1991)
- Sega announced development of a VR peripheral for the Sega Genesis
- Included an LCD display, headphones and sensors that track head movement
- Funnily, Sega never released their VR peripheral stating that it would be too realistic and they were afraid that players would harm themselves.
Oculus Rift (2010)
- Palmer Luckey created the first prototype for the Oculus Rift which was a VR headset which boasted a 90 degree field of view.
- Started a kickstarter that raised 2.4 million
- Sold the company to facebook for 2 billion
- This was the project that pushed VR into mainstream and world wide attention
- Currently we have multiple different big companies like Amazon, Sony, Microsoft, trying to develop their own peripherals to break into this new world of technology.
- Though the technology is still pretty raw and too expensive for the mainstream consumer, it is developing fast with Sony and Steam having a whole section in their play store for VR games
How do VR headsets work?
- To create a VR experience one would require the Head Mounted Display and a video that supports the immersive VR experience.
- To create such a video one would require to shoot a film using a 180 degree fish eye lens. Two fish eye lenses placed side by side (to mimic how our eyes would view something) would create a 3D 180 degree video while 4 back to back in pairs will create a 3D 360 video.
- A computer software is then used to stitch the videos together to create a distorted footage.
- Immersive videos requires a higher framerate. at least 60-90 frames per second.
- The VR headset itself pretty much works like a WII remote but with screens. IT has two high resolutionLCD screens, one for each eye. And an accelerometer and gyroscope to know the position of the head.
- Some more expensive headsets have sensor to track the eyes too.
- The VR headset than changes the perspective of the video and the sounds depending on the position of your head.
To be honest, I think that VR is the future. Just like how TV and film was the future to books and how games was the future after. Similarly, AR and VR are the next step. But because VR is a relatively new medium, like those that came before it, it will always try to mimi what the medium before has done. That is why VR is still currently obsessed with trying to recreate reality, and trying to create interactive game experiences or films. I think VR will start to stand on its own two feet as a medium when we start venturing into speculative design. Instead of trying to mimic reality what if we create one of our own, where the laws of physics are different for example. In any case I am very excited to be able to be part of the generation to watch this new medium grow.