Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment (e.g., video games) and education (e.g., medical or military training). Other examples include the simulation of various real-world environments, such as a pilot flying an airplane or a submariner navigating underwater. Virtual reality also refers to remote communication environments which provide a shared sense of presence, such as teleconferencing and teleoperators.

The history of virtual reality

The term “virtual reality” was first used in a science fiction story written in 1938 by Stanley G. Weinbaum called Pygmalion’s Spectacles. In the story, Weinbaum wrote about a goggle-based system that allowed users to experience fictional environments. The idea of virtual reality was again popularized in the 1950s by science fiction writer Mortimer Graeff, who wrote about an immersive cinema experience in his short story “See You at the Movies”.

The earliest ancestor of virtual reality technology was developed in the 1960s by Sensorama inventor Morton Heilig. His machine, called the Sensorama Simulator, created an immersive environment for users by stimulating their senses of sight, sound and touch. However, Heilig’s machine was never fully developed or commercially released.

The first virtual reality head-mounted display (HMD) was invented in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland and his student Bob Sproull. Their device, called the Sword of Damocles, was mounted on a user’s head and connected to a computer system that tracked their movement. The rigged-up system was incredibly bulky and impractical, but it laid the groundwork for future HMD designs.

In the 1980s, several arcade games started to experiment with incorporating stereoscopic displays into their cabinets in an attempt to give players a more immersive experience. One of the most notable examples is Sega’s 1985 game Space Harrier, which used hydraulics to move players around while they were wearing stereoscopic glasses physically.

Virtual reality began to gain mainstream attention in 1991 when Japanese video game company Nintendo released the Virtual Boy console. The console used a red monochrome display and did not gain much popularity due largely to its limited color palette and lack of third-party support.

In 2010, American software company OculusVR launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of their virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift. The campaign raised over $2 million and caught the attention of several big names in the tech industry, including Mark Zuckerberg who eventually acquired OculusVR for $2 billion in 2014.

Since then, VR technology has continued to evolve with several companies releasing their own headsets including HTC (Vive), Sony (PlayStation VR), Google (Daydream View) and Samsung (Gear VR).

How does virtual reality work?

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that allows users to experience an environment that is not actually real. VR headsets are used to create a virtual world that users can interact with using their hands, head, and body.

There are two main types of VR headsets: tethered and standalone. Tethered VR headsets are connected to a computer or gaming console, while standalone VR headsets are not. Standalone VR headsets are usually more expensive and require more processing power than tethered VR headsets.

Virtual reality technology is used in a variety of applications, including gaming, entertainment, education, training, and healthcare.

The benefits of virtual reality


There are many potential benefits to using virtual reality technology, including educational and training applications, improved communication and collaboration, and increased productivity.

Virtual reality can be used to create highly realistic simulations that can be used for training purposes. For example, surgeons can use VR to practice procedures before performing them on patients. VR can also be used to teach students in a more immersive way, allowing them to learn by doing rather than simply listening to lectures or reading texts.

VR can also be used to improve communication and collaboration. For example, businesses can use VR to conduct virtual meetings, or architects and engineers can use VR to view and interact with 3D models of buildings or products.

Finally, VR can also be used to increase productivity. For example, office workers can use VR to view and interact with computer screens and data in a more efficient way, or factory workers can use VR to view instructions and information about assembly tasks.

The drawbacks of virtual reality

Although VR has many potential applications and benefits, there are also several potential drawbacks associated with its use.
One of the main concerns is that VR can lead to isolation and loneliness, as people can become more engaged with the virtual world than the real one. This is particularly concerning for people who already suffer from social anxiety or other mental health conditions.

Another worry is that VR could be used to create extremely realistic and violent simulations which could desensitize people to real-world violence. This could have a damaging effect on society as a whole, as well as on individual users.

It is also worth noting that VR technology is still in its infancy and therefore has not been fully tested or studied in terms of its long-term effects on users. Some experts have raised concerns that extended use of VR could have negative consequences on brain development, eyesight, and overall physical health.

The future of virtual reality

The future of virtual reality (VR) is looking very bright indeed. With big names such as Facebook, HTC, Sony and Samsung all investing heavily in the technology, and with consumer interest at an all-time high, it’s safe to say that VR is here to stay.

So what can we expect from VR in the coming years? Well, one area that is certain to see a lot of development is the field of medicine. Doctors are already using VR to treat a variety of conditions, such as PTSD and phantom limb pain, and it’s likely that we will see even more uses for VR in the medical world in the future.

Another area that is set to see a lot of growth is education. VR can be used to create immersive learning experiences that can help students to retain information more effectively. We are already seeing VR being used in some schools and universities, and it’s likely that we will see many more educational institutions embracing VR in the years to come.

Of course, gaming is another area where VR is set to have a big impact. We are already seeing some amazing VR games being released, and with Sony’s PlayStation VR headset selling very well, it’s clear that there is a lot of interest in this type of gaming. As technology continues to develop, we are only going to see more and more impressive VR games hitting the market.

So what does the future hold for virtual reality? It’s hard to say for sure, but one thing is certain: it’s going to be an exciting ride!

How to experience virtual reality

There are many ways to experience virtual reality, but the most common method is through the use of a headset. A headset is a device that you wear on your head that allows you to see and hear a virtual world. There are many different types of headsets, but the most popular are the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony PlayStation VR.

Another way to experience virtual reality is through the use of a computer or television screen. You can view virtual reality content on your screen by using special software, such as Oculus Home or SteamVR. You can also use a phone or tablet to view virtual reality content. To do this, you need to download a virtual reality app, such as YouTube VR or Google Cardboard.

FAQs about virtual reality

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Events, environments, and objects can be created and experienced digitally in a VR setting.

How does virtual reality work?

A VR experience can be created using computer technology to simulate physical spaces or objects. This allows users to interact with digital content in a way that feels real.

What are some uses for virtual reality?

Virtual reality is often used for entertainment purposes, such as gaming or watching movies. However, it can also be used for educational or workplace training purposes. For example, VR can be used to simulate hazardous environments so that people can learn how to safely respond to them.