Virtual reality is coming, with Facebook’s Oculus, HTC’s Vive, and Samsung and Sony getting in for people without computers, but what is it really, and how does it work?
There’s something coming to your home, and it has the potential to change how we learn and how we see the world. It’s a gadget that can change entertainment and education and blend it all so it becomes one, immersing you — the individual — into the frame in a way that makes it seem as if the future has arrived.
And in a way, it has.
It’s called “virtual reality” or “VR” for short, and it’s the sort of thing that fuels science fiction.
Built as a headset, you have to think of it like a pair of 3D googles, only it’s a very advanced pair of 3D glasses with a pair of screens and a few sensors to track your positional space.
More on that later, though, because we need to tackle that whole 3D thing first, because VR and 3D have a lot in common.
When you watch a 3D movie, you’re seeing two sets of images on the screen: one for each eye, left and right.
The glasses you watch 3D movies with at the cinema have two types of lenses that enable this, with your left eye seeing the A lens and the right eye seeing the B lens.
Each of these lenses can only pick up on the one set of frames, which is why if you take your glasses off, the frames overlap and it looks blurry.
In truth, you’re actually seeing two sets of frames at the one time, and your brain cannot push these together, so we do this with glasses which let you see each frame individually just as your eyes would, with your brain merging the angles and doing the math for you.
It’s also worth noting that the way the frames are setup, you can’t put the glasses on backwards to see the frames.
Doing so would put the right eye lens on your left eye and the left eye lens on your right, and then you’d be seeing things overlapping in a way that could be jarring, like two competing images fighting for prominence.
So don’t do that, as your brain will hurt.