Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, abbreviated as "VR," is a technology that creates an immersive, interactive computer-generated world. The viewer experiences virtual reality while wearing a special headset that removes their vision of the outside world and replaces it with the virtual one, providing the illusion of looking around and moving through the simulated environment.

Standard VR equipment consists of a headset equipped with a stereoscopic display (a separate screen for each eye), headphones or small speakers, and special sensors that detect the direction you're looking. The headsets also connect to handheld controllers that allow you to control your movement and interact with the environment. Some VR headsets are standalone devices containing their own CPU, GPU, battery, and storage. Other headsets connect to a computer that renders the environment and provides the power; these headsets can be smaller than the standalone ones since much of the work happens on the computer, but they require a wired connection that can be cumbersome.

Many fields can make use of virtual reality. In addition to entertainment like video games and 360º video, VR headsets are also commonly used in education to provide students with more immersive instruction. VR is used in medical schools and hospitals to teach and practice complex surgeries, and businesses of all kinds use VR as a CAD and prototyping tool. VR equipment and experiences also form the basis of the concept of a metaverse — a shared virtual reality environment where people (represented by avatars) can meet and interact with each other.

Updated January 16, 2023

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