Introduction to Virtual Reality – what is VR?

Welcome to the Virtual Reality guide.

virtual reality guideThis website’s intent is to introduce you to virtual reality(VR). To answer as many questions as we can on what it is the history and all that’s is new in the VR world .

Unless you have been living in the north pole or under a rock for the last few years you have probably heard quite a lot of  media hype about VR even if you don’t know what it is .

For the non technical readers coming to this site we are going to inform you about the history of virtual reality. Also the definition and what VR will eventually mean to the man on the street. All in a plain and simple way without the need for you to have a computing science degree or the need to learn Klingon.

So what is VR? Virtual reality (VR) is one of the essential products of the evolution of computers. From a device that only receives input from their users. To something that can already adapt to the cues of users to develop an almost life-like experience.

All a bit of a mouth full. But the term was coined by Jason Lanier in 1989. Other people described the concept as cyberspace. Or virtual worlds. And artificial reality. Or even immersive entertainment.

Throughout the years, the concept of VR remains the same. And that is the use of computer technology to develop a simulated 3D world. One that can be manipulated and explored by individuals. All while making them feel as if they are part of that virtual world. Today, VR is already being used in various fields such as medicine, architecture, entertainment, sport, and the arts. But when did Virtual Reality first start?

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The Emergence of Virtual Reality.

The idea of Virtual Reality has been around since the 1950s. Cinematographer Morton Heilig  imagined a theater experience that could stimulate the senses of his audience. An experience to draw them into his stories in a more effective manner. In 1960 Heilig  developed Sensorama. This was a single-user console that included stereo speakers, fans, stereoscopic display, a moving chair, and odor emitters. This allows users to watch television in 3D.

Since then various individuals and companies have tried to develop their own device that can let users experience the virtual world. In 1961 engineers who were working at Philco Corporation had the first head-mounted display (HMD). This device was worn as part of a helmet. It included a tracking system and a video screen. At the time that it was developed, the device was primarily intended to be used in dangerous situations. Moreover, HMD had also been used by helicopter pilots to enable them to have a clear view even while flying in the dark.

Today, HMD is already being used in a variety of applications. Such as in the military, aviation, and government. As well as for commercial purposes including sports, medicine, and video gaming. There are already several affordable HMD devices that individuals can use in various entertainment applications such as playing 3D video virtual reality games.

The Oculus Rift is one of the most awaited Virtual Reality HMDs. It is specifically designed to be used for video games and Virtual Reality simulations. This high field of view HMD is being manufactured by Oculus VR Inc. The Oculus Rift was invented by Palmer Luckey. He has the biggest collection of various HMDs in the world.

Most HMDs differ in their abilities to show Computer Generated Images (CGIs) and display live images from the physical or real world. There are HMDs that can superimpose CGIs on a real-world display. This function is often referred as mixed or Augmented Reality.


Augmented reality (AR) is defined as the indirect or direct and live view of the physical environment. It aims to develop a system where users cannot tell or even see the difference between the virtual augmentation and the real world. Due to its benefits, Augmented Reality is now being used in robotics, military training, engineering design, and manufacturing.

Aside from Heilig and Philco Corporation, computer scientist Ivan Sutherland has also played a significant contribution in the development of Virtual Reality. In 1965 he envisioned Ultimate Display. This allows individuals to look in the virtual world that seems as if it is the physical world that they are living in. Sutherland’s vision has served as a guide in the developments that have been made in the VR field.

Sutherland has further improved this development. He created an HMD that was installed in a computer system to provide the needed graphics for the display. This HMD has the capability to showcase images in stereo with an illusion of depth.  Since then, Virtual Reality has been developed in several ways. It’s even become one of the most recognized products emerging in technology and technological advancement.

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Virtual Reality Headset.

Most of the Virtual Environment (VE) systems that are available today are being operated through personal computers. However, these systems need to have a way to show images to users. To address this issue several VE systems are using HMDs. Or a Virtual Reality headset that has no monitors. This VR headset is already being used in playing different kinds of Virtual Reality games.


In fact, several gamers are excited to try the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset. Many suggest the use of this headset and the Omni Virtuix treadmill to provide gamers  with a more exciting game. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to applying this movement in Virtual Reality.

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Types of Virtual Reality.

Window on the World.

This VR system is ideal to be used in the medical field. It can help in performing different kinds if medical visualization procedures such as virtual colonoscopy. Moreover, it can also be used in the stimulation of various medical procedures.

Immersive System.

HMD serves as a better alternative to head tracking system. It gives an immersive experience by removing individuals from the physical world. This system can also provide quality 3D visual images without being expensive. Unfortunately the immersive system is not recommended for use in the medical industry due to its restricted field of view.


In this system, the manipulators and sensors are being controlled and operated by a human using a remote. This has been beneficial in under sea exploration. It is also used in unmanned military vehicles and fire fighter robots.


The field of Virtual Reality is experiencing several challenges. Especially when it comes to developing better tracking systems. Also the need to prevent poor ergonomics. There are also issues about the effect of VR on the psychological well-being of its users. Also in its use in performing various criminal acts.

Virtual Reality provides multiple benefits in various fields. It has help improved the lives of individuals in one way or another. Despite this, most developers of Virtual Environment strive not to overstress the applications of the system. What’s important is that Virtual Reality continues to play a role in the development of VR games. And also in the improvement of different training methods that use VR technology.