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What is Virtual Reality Technology? Meaning, Devices & Examples

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20th Jun, 2023
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What is Virtual Reality Technology? Meaning, Devices & Examples

What is Virtual Reality?

What is VR? VR is an immersive technology that provides users with a computer-generated world replicating realistic scenes and objects. A virtual reality headset or helmet creates a sensation of presence and engagement. VR allows users to engage with the virtual world and enjoy a higher immersion level by replicating a realistic environment.

How Does Virtual Reality Technology Work?

Virtual reality (VR) technology creates immersive experiences that trick the senses and the mind by integrating hardware and software components. Through the utilization of hardware, sensory stimulation is facilitated, enabling the simulation of various sensations like sound, touch, smell, or heat intensity. Meanwhile, the software is responsible for constructing the virtual environment that is rendered to the user. This combination of hardware and software working in tandem creates the captivating world of virtual reality. Several prominent virtual reality companies are shaping the industry in terms of development.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

The impact of 3D VR on eye and brain function: The 3D virtual reality (VR) experience capitalizes on the natural functioning of the human eye and brain. Our eyes, positioned a few inches apart, capture two distinct views that the brain combines to create depth perception.

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 In the VR realm, this phenomenon is replicated using two separate images, each representing a slightly different perspective. Rather than a single image encompassing the entire screen, the VR display presents two identical photos, intentionally adjusted for each eye. By doing so, VR technology effectively deceives the viewer’s brain into perceiving depth and embracing the illusion of a multi-dimensional image.

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What Technology Does Virtual Reality Use?

VR technology makes use of a variety of components, including headsets, controllers, and motion trackers. These gadgets collaborate to provide users with exciting virtual experiences. Through specialized apps or web-based platforms, users can access VR experiences, which allow them to explore virtual worlds and interact with them using specialized tools. This technology depends on improvements in hardware and software to deliver realistic and engaging virtual environments and give consumers a distinctive and dynamic digital experience.

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What Hardware Does Virtual Reality Use?

Virtual reality (VR) creates immersive experiences using various hardware components. Accessories like controllers, headphones, hand trackers, treadmills, and 3D cameras are essential tools for creating Virtual Reality. VR technology that allows users to interact with virtual surroundings in a highly engaging and immersive manner by utilizing various sensory attachments.

VR Headsets

Virtual reality technology immerses users in simulated environments, enabling them to engage in various activities. Users can interact with others, participate in games, or simply explore their virtual surroundings. The possibilities within this environment are limitless, dictated only by the capabilities of the software powering it.

VR is an abbreviation used for Virtual Reality. 

There are three primary types of VR headsets:

  1. PC-Based VR Headsets: Immersed VR experiences are offered by these headsets but tend to be more expensive. They are connected to a computer via cables and rely on dedicated displays, built-in motion sensors, and external camera trackers for high-quality sound, image, and head tracking.
  2. Standalone VR Headsets: All-in-one or standalone VR headsets are wireless devices that integrate the necessary hardware. They can function independently without the need for additional devices. While some wireless headsets receive information wirelessly from nearby consoles or PCs, others use compact wired packs carried in a pocket or attached to clothing.
  3. Mobile Headsets: Mobile headsets are shell-like devices that use lenses to cover a smartphone. By separating the screen, they create a stereoscopic image that transforms the smartphone into a VR device. Mobile headsets are relatively affordable and do not require wires since the phone handles the processing.  

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VR Accessories

VR headsets with controllers require extra devices to enhance the virtual reality meaning and experience. These accessories are divided into two categories: those used for generating VR material, such as camera rigs, and those used for exploring VR content, such as trackers and hand controllers for various devices.

Popular accessories include virtual reality cameras, controllers, full-body and half-body suits, vests, gloves, seats, training gear such as virtual reality treadmills, facial masks, firearms, shoes, base stations, wireless transmitters, sensor-based devices, and protection bags. These attachments provide a variety of features and possibilities to better immerse users in the virtual world.

What Software Does Virtual Reality Use?

Virtual reality (VR) utilizes a range of software for different purposes. These include VR software development kits (SDKs), visualization software, content management systems, game engines, social platforms, and training simulators.

  • VR Content Management Systems Software is a workplace tool that enables companies to collect, store, and analyze VR content in a centralized location.
  • VR Game Engine Software is utilized by developers to create immersive VR video game experiences.
  • VR Software Development Kits (SDKs) provide a foundation for designing, building and testing VR experiences.
  • VR social platform software enables users to collaborate remotely in VR, fostering virtual interactions and shared experiences.
  • VR training simulator software finds applications across various industries, offering immersive environments for employee training purposes.

Significance of Audio in Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) relies heavily on audio to produce lifelike experiences; hence, it is crucial. To create a sense of presence and spatial awareness within the virtual environment and to replicate reality, audio and visual elements must operate together.

To truly captivate users in VR applications, relying solely on visuals is insufficient. The mix of auditory and visual inputs fundamentally influences a person’s experience of space. Individuals react faster to acoustic signals than to visual cues. Achieving a truly immersive VR experience necessitates the incorporation of accurate environmental noises, sounds, and spatial characteristics.

Binaural or Spatial Audio in a Virtual Reality Experience

Binaural or spatial audio is a technique used in virtual reality (VR) to create a more immersive auditory experience. It mimics how humans perceive sound in three dimensions by replicating the way our ears and brains process audio. Our brains examine the time delays and intensity variations between sounds reaching each ear as we have ears on both sides of our skulls, allowing us to pinpoint the source in 3D space. 

Three Types of Virtual Reality

 Below listed are the three types of virtual reality:

  • Non-Immersive Virtual Reality: Non-immersive virtual reality, a popular but frequently neglected kind of VR, consists of computer-generated virtual settings in which users maintain awareness of and control over their physical surroundings. Video games are a popular example of non-immersive VR technology.
  • Semi-immersive Virtual Reality: A semi-immersive virtual reality (VR) experience includes features of both the virtual and actual surroundings. It has applications in areas like education and training. 
  • Fully Immersive Virtual Reality: Fully immersive virtual reality is on the verge of becoming a reality with rapid technological advancements. This type of VR creates an incredibly realistic simulation by incorporating visual, auditory, and even olfactory sensations.

What’s the Difference Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?


Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality (AR)

DefinitionAll-enveloping artificial and fully immersive experienceEnhances real-world view with digital overlays
EnvironmentSynthetic, computer-generated environmentReal-world with added computer-generated elements
InteractionUsers can interact and influence their surroundingsUsers can interact with both real and virtual elements
Relationship to RealitySeparates users from the real worldEnhances the real-world experience
Creation of ExperienceCreates a new experience from scratchEnhances existing reality with digital elements
ExamplesVR gaming, simulations, virtual toursAR apps, heads-up displays, Pokémon Go


How Virtual Reality Applications Are Used Today

Virtual reality (VR) applications have spread beyond gaming and found diverse applications in a variety of disciplines. They are used to improve sales processes, provide immersive learning experiences, replicate travel locations, and enable remote communication, among other things.

With the onset of the pandemic, demand for VR has increased, driven by the necessity for remote work, virtual social contacts, and simulated vacation experiences. This highlights the widespread adoption and utility of VR technology in today’s digital world.

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Virtual Reality Use Case Examples

  • Healthcare: Virtual reality (VR) can assist healthcare practitioners and researchers in numerous ways. It can be used to simulate medical procedures, allowing surgeons to practice complex surgeries and improve their skills. VR can also aid in patient therapy by offering immersive experiences to treat disorders like anxiety or phobias.
  • Travel and Hospitality: VR provides a unique opportunity for hotels and travel agencies to showcase destinations and accommodations to potential customers. Through immersive experiences, users can virtually explore hotels, resorts, and tourist attractions, gaining a realistic sense of the environment before making travel decisions.
  • Real Estate: Display ad optimization enables developers to move beyond static images and 3D models, allowing potential buyers to experience virtual walkthroughs of properties. VR technology can simulate life inside new developments, giving customers a realistic view of the space and helping them make informed purchasing decisions.
  • Retail and e-commerce: Virtual reality enhances the shopping experience by allowing customers to virtually try on clothes and accessories or even visualize how furniture or home decor items would look in their own space. It offers a personalized and interactive way to engage with products, leading to increased customer satisfaction and higher conversion rates.

These are just a few instances of how ad optimization and virtual reality (VR) technologies are altering industries, improving consumer experiences, and propelling corporate development. The possibilities for exploiting VR in advertising continue to increase as technology progresses, bringing up new opportunities for firms to fascinate and engage their target consumers. 

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Benefits of Virtual Reality

Take a look at the skillful benefits of VR:

  • Enhanced Knowledge Acquisition: Virtual reality (VR)  meaning, the technology that provides an immersive and interactive learning experience, going beyond passive information consumption. Students actively engage with the subject matter, leading to a deeper understanding of complex concepts and theories.
  • Minimized Distractions: In a VR environment, distractions are minimized, allowing students to focus solely on the educational content. This undivided attention enhances concentration and the retention of information.
  • Increased Creativity: VR stimulates creativity by offering a platform for students to explore and experiment. They can create, manipulate, and interact with virtual objects, fostering innovative thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Improved subject interest: Virtual reality breathes life into traditionally dull subjects like science. By providing interactive simulations and engaging experiences, VR sparks curiosity and generates enthusiasm among students, making learning more enjoyable.
  • Enhanced Understanding and Retention: VR’s immersive nature facilitates a deeper level of comprehension and memory retention. By connecting emotions and experiences to education, students can better internalize and recall information.

Virtual Reality Challenges

It is critical to understand the VR challenges in order to stay posted:

  • Consumer Perceptions: VR headsets face low consumer interest, requiring efforts to change perceptions and increase adoption.
  • High Costs: VR headsets and app development entail significant upfront expenses, but prices are expected to decrease with mainstream adoption.
  • Latency Issues: Overcoming latency challenges is vital for a smooth VR experience, with mobile edge computing showing promise in reducing delays.
  • Cybersecurity and Data Privacy: Addressing user concerns about cybersecurity and data privacy is crucial for building trust and driving VR app adoption.
  • Game Engine Limitations: VR software tools like Unity may have limitations that impact development, necessitating continuous improvements. 

Overcoming these obstacles is essential for VR’s growth and widespread adoption, with solutions emerging to enhance accessibility and appeal to consumers.

Future of Virtual Reality

VR is a rapidly growing technology with immense potential. IDC Research projects a 21-fold increase in investment in VR and AR over the next four years, reaching €15.5 billion by 2022. Businesses recognize the significance of VR and AR in their digital transformation plans, with projected spending surpassing that of the consumer sector by 2019. By 2020, it is anticipated that more than half of large European companies will adopt VR and AR strategies.

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Applications for VR that go beyond entertainment, travel, and marketing are required by the industry, but they must also be cost-effective for users. Virtual interfaces need to be improved to deal with problems like clipping when solid objects appear to be on the surface. Additionally, it’s important to reduce VR’s drawbacks, such as motion sickness brought on by the disconnect between physical movement and the virtual environment. Fulfilling these requirements will accelerate VR technology’s development and uptake.

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Virtual reality (VR) is an enveloping technology that uses hardware and software elements to recreate authentic objects and settings. VR headsets provide engaging experiences, including PC-based, standalone, and mobile models. The VR experience is improved with accessories like trackers and controllers. A sensation of presence is created by binaural or spatial audio. 

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Rohan Vats

Blog Author
Software Engineering Manager @ upGrad. Passionate about building large scale web apps with delightful experiences. In pursuit of transforming engineers into leaders.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1How does virtual reality technology work?

Virtual reality technology combines hardware and software components. The hardware, such as headsets and motion trackers, stimulates the senses to create a simulated environment. The software constructs the virtual environment users see and interact with, providing a captivating VR experience.

2 What are the types of virtual reality headsets?

There are three primary types of VR headsets: PC-based VR headsets: Connected to a computer, they offer highly immersive experiences. Standalone VR headsets are wireless devices with integrated hardware that function independently. Mobile headsets: shell-like devices that use smartphones to create a VR experience.

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