Why I love VR

Exciting Technology - Unlimited Opportunities
August 2012

Virtual Reality (VR) as well as Augmented Reality (AR) are buzz words for around 20 years. During the first hype in the 90es, VR/AR applications focused on entertainment in theme parks. But the underlying hardware and software was not yet able to meet a broader range of applications nor mass market requirements concerning costs, reliability, usability and capabilities of software framework to develop rich VR applications. Since that time, the computer graphics-, gaming-, computer vision- and virtual reality research communities advanced heavily regarding rendering capabilities, tracking technologies, immersive and semi immersive output devices as well as 3D user interaction techniques. Additionally, new powerful GPUs and mobile devices emerged and high resolution displays as well as fast internet connections allow applications from mobile Augmented Reality and Desktop VR to fully immersive virtual environment with real time tracking and 6DOF interaction capabilities as well as rich 3D virtual content. The virtual space can be distributed to provide a shared environment for collaboration where multiple user can by physically elsewhere but can interact together in the same virtual space. 

Three VR lovers in Amsterdam 2012: Palmer Luckey (Oculus VR), me & Sebastien Kuntz (MiddleVR, VRGeeks Association), Photo © S. Kuntz
Virtual and Augmented Reality offers a great environment for training, simulations and visualization. This environment can by a simulation of reality but can also expose the user to scenarios beyond possibilities in reality. The user can train and learn in a 3D environment where as much senses as desired (vision, touch, ..) can be addressed. The level of difficulty and exposure can be gradually increased due to the users needs and wishes. Interaction in 3D is much more intuitive compared to standard 2D interaction devices (e.g. mouse) because 3D interaction (grasping for selection, rotating and translating objects in space) do not need to be as abstract as 2D interaction and does not lack an axis in space. Hence, they can be designed as simulations of interaction from reality while being able to be enhanced by virtual reality methods to provide more functionality and capabilities.

Due to all this reasons, I believe we are at point in time where VR/AR technology starts to play an important role in a broad area of everyday applications for training, simulations, phobia treatment, rehabilitation, edutainment, gaming and entertainment. The underlying technology is exciting topic for research, the deriving opportunities are unlimited!