What is virtual reality (VR)?

Virtual reality is a fake environment built from scratch, which generally requires the use of a VR headset. This allows you to participate in a multitude of experiences, whether it’s to play, have fun or meet.

What is Virtual Reality?

In everyday language, virtual reality (or VR, for Virtual reality) is a kind of broad umbrella that covers spaces and environments created from scratch, as well as the tools that allow access to them. Virtual reality is a technology that allows the user to immerse himself in a 3D environment in which he can generally move, in order to participate in experiences that are impossible to reproduce in reality (or difficult to established).

Is it the same as augmented reality?

No, because augmented reality (AR, Augmented reality) adds virtual elements to a real environment, usually by superimposing them on real images (with one’s camera smart phone or glasses, for example). VR, on the other hand, creates a completely virtual environment that can be inspired by reality, but can also be completely fictional. We can’t see it.

Is it the same as the metaverse?

It depends on the case (and causes a lot of debate). If we can consider that a metaverse is a virtual universe, not all metaverses allow for a sensory experience as described above. Many games (such as sims Where Second life) are metaverse, without the user being able to move there directly. But in some cases (Worlds of the Horizonfor example), a metaverse can only function in virtual reality.

IN Ready Player One, Wade spends his time in Oasis, a global virtual reality system. // Ready Player One

How long has virtual reality been around?

The first so-called virtual reality machine is Sensorama, a machine built by Morton Hellig in 1956. It allowed its user to immerse himself in a dummy environment using some of his senses (touch, hearing, smell, etc.) and operated thanks to equipment from the film industry. The US military has also been interested in this topic, especially to create flight simulators.

The first virtual reality headsets date back to the 1990s, when NASA pushed research in this field. The world of video games is quickly looking to pick it up, but it will have to wait a few years before it is able to develop tools that are accessible to the general public and really work.

Why is virtual reality in fashion?

As technologies evolve, immersion becomes possible. This inevitably makes manufacturers want to develop the technology.

In 2007, for example, Google models the planet with it Google StreetView. For the first time, one vehicle makes it possible to travel to virtually all regions of the world. But we inevitably say that the technology is not suitable for computer screens.

In 2009, American Palmer Lucker, an electronics enthusiast, built a series of VR headset prototypes. He meets John Carmack, from the video game studio ID Software, which allows him to gain fame. Soon, he created the Oculus VR structure and marketed a must-have: the Oculus Rift. in 2014, Oculus has been acquired by Facebook (now Meta that) for 2 billion dollars. In the same year, several big names in video games and electronics – Valve, publisher of Steam, Samsung, then HTC, announced projects in virtual reality (whether helmets that allow access to it, where the development of games and virtual worlds in which can be moved).

The PS VR2 headset is quite large, but perfectly fits the look of its user // Source: Numerama
PS VR2 headset enables virtual reality gaming on PS5. // Source: Numerama

After a relative decline due to cost of RV equipment and the fact that they continue feel dizzy or nauseous for some users, VR has taken center stage. Under the combined effect, among others:

  • Since the pandemic – being confined to home has revived interest in more or less realistic online dating spaces,
  • big announcements from companies like Meta, which wants to develop a full metaverse (in this case, a 3D virtual universe, in which we can move after equipping the right helmet),
  • and frenzy around Web3. By enabling the creation of exchange currencies and documents of ownership (for example, in skins, useful objects in a video game, or spaces created in digital worlds), blockchain applications are sometimes view as a means of development in virtual spaces used until now reserved for reality shortbuy landfor example.
facebook horizon metaverse
The Facebook Metaverse. // Source: Facebook

What are the main uses of VR?

Several quite different sectors are showing a real interest in the possibilities that VR offers.

  • In real estate, it gives a new dimension to online apartment tours. Without necessarily being an immersive experience, VR allows the Internet user to move into the space of interest in a “doll’s house” mode. Therefore, he can much more easily – and without moving – grasp the places that make up the house he or she is thinking of buying or renting.
  • In museums, which are beginning to offer immersive experiences, for example, to reconstruct events from the past. If you pass through Nemours, know that in a dungeon of the castle, you can put on a VR helmet to follow the explanations of Gauthier I of Villebéon, who started the construction of the building in the 12th century (we tested for you, c. is deliciously cringe-instructive).
  • In medicine, where virtual reality allows development in terms of operation, in particular.
  • In video games – think Ready Player One – VR brings a much more developed sensory dimension than when the player is in front of a screen, as it transports them into the video game universe.

If it is virtual, is it unreal?

As is often the case in digital technology, the vocabulary we use can be confusing. It is not because we talk about virtual reality that what we experience there is not real. Therefore, not because the interactions we develop in an online space, programmed from A to Z, we have to behave there anyway – attacking our neighbor, throwing his unfiltered hatred, etc. Anyway, this is about the principle: in reality, since the launch of the virtual space dreamed up by Mark Zuckerberg, stories of aggression have appeared. It remains to be seen, then, what tricks we will devise to encourage a modicum of civilization in virtual worlds.


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