When it comes to the modern history of Virtual Reality, it starts in the `60s of the XX century and is related to Myron Krueger’s developments in this field. Ivan Sutherland designed the first prototype of VR headset in 1967. As for the term Virtual Reality, which is currently used to describe the corresponding technological sphere itself and related elaborations, it was coined by Jaron Lanier in 1989. So, considering all this period, including the time when this term was put into practice, you will end up having no less than 30 years, which, taking into account the pace of development of the technologies nowadays, – is indeed a substantial time span.
2. It is probably expensive
VR is very costly, not everyone can afford it. Such facts about virtual reality have definitely appeared for a reason and have the right to exist. It would be naive to think and convince somebody that VR is dirt cheap. However, it would also be wrong to think that technology and devices it requires are not available for mere mortals. Anyway, first things first.
Sure enough, the Virtual Reality industry – is a high-technology area which calls for special knowledge and specialists who can support it. Also you need special equipment in order to use this technology. But if just a while ago VR was affordable to quite a narrow range of customers – now the situation has changed dramatically. Nowadays literally every person can pick one’s own device in accordance with their requirements and needs because, along with expensive samples, there are plenty of cheap counterparts.
These days there is a considerable number of producers who compete not only for the quality of image, user-friendliness and other technical characteristics, but also for the affordability for the potential customer. VR technologies are used in more and more spheres, that is why reasonable price is not a mere advantage but a key argument in favour when purchasing a VR headset or goggles. And the downward price trend is quite realistic and positive. We have already written about the main players on the market and how to make VR headset yourself. And if you are thinking of buying it, you can read about the up-to-date devices of 2020 here.
3. VR is complicated
To tell the truth, using virtual reality technology is no harder than using a laptop, smartphone or a game console. The major challenge is that, just like to any other unfamiliar devices, you need to get used to it. We are not frightened by a slightly different functionality in our new mobile phone, we are totally okay with having to learn how to use new computer programmes sometimes – and all this is because they are more integrated in our everyday lives.
Complexity is a Virtual Reality fact, which is usually related to the first user experience. And this is absolutely natural because, in fact, we are completely devoid of the objective perception of reality based on one of the five senses only – sight. Moreover, if blindfolded, we would instinctively start to rely on other senses, such as hearing or touch. But when using VR goggles we are ‘blind’ to everything that concerns our environment – all we ‘see’ is the programmed reality instead. And although we are well aware of the fact that at that moment we are wearing a VR headset, our brain interprets what it sees and hears as real things and our body reacts accordingly. We are instinctively scared of the non-existent abyss at our feet, trying to dodge non-existent things that can hit us, or step over non-existent rain puddles. Actually, we would be able to experience something similar when sleeping if mother nature didn’t take care of our security and disconnect our body and brain. That is exactly why during the first experience of VR immersion it is better to be standing on one’s feet. But that’s precisely what first experience is for – to gradually get better and feel more confident each time.
4. It is all about computer games
Most people at the mention of Virtual Reality think of the above misconception. And really, this technology is widely used in the gaming industry. But it would be a mistake to think that VR is only about games and entertainment.
One of the first developments was a virtual environment – a simulator designed for the purpose of training pilots. Therefore, the history of virtual reality doesn’t start from games at all. This interesting virtual reality fact reminds us how vastly the technology can be used.
Since that time, VR technology has not only advanced technically, but also expanded the sphere of its utilization. Certainly, gaming still takes up the lion’s share in the industry. Immersion in the 3D world is interesting and desirable for many gamers across the world. Moreover, producers now are offering not only headsets and joysticks – but also virtual reality costumes which allow you to experience tactile, temperature and vibratory sensations. And if sound accompaniment has long become part of VR tours and games, the synthesis and integration of smells are already under development.
5. VR is used much more often than you might think
This fact is in a way similar to the previous statement. And while you were thinking that virtual reality is just another toy – it has spread far beyond the gaming industry.
The use of the technology is now topical for the medical sphere as never before. Having commenced with educational materials, the industry is currently producing highly accurate simulators for surgical training, helps cure mental illnesses, reduce stress and decrease pain syndrome. VR is also helpful when rehabilitating patients who suffered a stroke or posttraumatic stress disorder. Owing to VR, people who suffer from certain kinds of phobias are successfully overcoming them. There is proven advantage of this technology for the people with disabilities.
During the pandemic, Virtual Reality became a lifesaver for those who had to stay within the confines of four walls – e.g., for the world-renowned museums, which granted access to their galleries. Not to mention that VR has been a go-to technology in education for quite a long time already, it is also used to train both professional and non-professional sportspeople.
At the time when personal meetings are impossible, the VR environment has become a place to organize conferences and business meetings. And for some spheres, such as real estate sales, VR tours have become a new marketing tool.
And if previously Virtual Reality was considered more as an additional bonus of a particular industry, it has now become a fully autonomous tool.
So the use of the technology has long gone beyond science fiction – Virtual Reality has become our reality.