App Blog

Immersive Virtual Reality

Immersive Virtual Reality - what is it and how does it apply to apps?
May 16, 2017

We take a look at the latest incarnation of virtual reality and what we can expect to see from it in the near future and beyond.

 

 

Imagine that you are inside your room and from there, you journey through the Louvre. Later, without leaving the room, you enjoy a spectacular safari in which you even approach a lion that reacts in response to your movements as in real life, but even if it bites, you nothing happens. You lie on your bed and you’re resting on a beach in Mykonos, feeling the warm sun on your face, a light breeze and the faintly salty smell of the ocean. This is immersive virtual reality.

A few years ago this was unthinkable. Now, you are no longer a mere spectator. Soon you will be able go anywhere in the world without moving from your room and you’ll be the protagonist of video games or movies, and so on.

 

vr 1 

 

Three types of alternative realities

It’s necessary to differentiate between virtual reality (RV), augmented reality (RA) and immersive RV: 

Virtual Reality
The original “alternative reality”, VR is based on creating a digital environment and making you feel like you're in it. In this kind of reality, you can only be a spectator of what happens, but can’t affect what happens.

Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality blends the real world with virtual elements. It usually requires a camera to overlay these virtual elements on the real world around you.

Probably the most well-known example augmented reality is the Pokémon Go app. At any point in your city, you could find a Pokémon and catch it. Even inside your house or work. All this required was a location-aware overlay of the virtual elements (Pokémon monsters) onto the real word (as captured by your phone’s camera). Pokémon GO became, without a doubt, a great phenomenon. The App gave rise to a revolution that will grow over time. 

fully immersiveImmersive Virtual Reality
Immersive VR is the latest and most advanced development in the alternative reality sphere. Like AR, it seeks to combine the real and the virtual world, but enter into it directly as a fully immersive experience (unlike AR which is often just displayed on a screen).

It’s like the original VR, but you are no longer a mere spectator. You become the protagonist, you can participate and decide what you want to do or how you want to do it. This is achieved through the impulses that your neurons receive and transmit to the brain, achieving a greater realism. You can feel sensations of all kinds, since you interact with IVR – in principle - through sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

We say in principle, because it’s still early for immersion through senses, such as smell and taste. Efforts are being made to make progress in both areas, but much remains to be done. So our initial example of the beach, is something of a work in progress, but shouldn’t be too far off. Regardless, IRV is already well developed for sight, hearing and even touch.
 

So how does Immersive VR work?

Earlier we said that our neurons are responsible for sending a series of impulses that are received by the brain. These impulses begin with the senses and are the ones that will make us enter a world that mixes the real and virtual, even if we are many miles away.These sensations are transmitted with a series of external devices, such as virtual reality helmets, glasses , controls and even virtual reality gloves. Consider, for example, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive. 

 

Can you apply Immersive VR to apps?

Definitely, although you’ll need the right hardware – this isn’t a problem for Android, with the Samsung VR, nor for iPhone, which can be used with third party VR devices. Immersive virtual reality could be used for countless things. Let’s look at two – education and leisure/games.

Educational Apps
Forget studying geography by looking at a book – putting on your VR goggles, and you can actually be there. The same goes for history – imagine exploring a recreation of a Roman village and seeing Romans go about their day to day lives.

In the field of medicine - future doctors could learn to perform operations. Donning VR glasses and gloves, trainee surgeons could have realistic feedback from a virtual “live” patient – something that no cadaver could give you.

Games and Leisure Apps
While nothing beats real travel, economically you may not have the option to go everywhere you’d like. However, using an app with 360º representations of a particular part of the world, you could feel like you’re really there.

And of course, there are video games – in which IVR is already fairly developed. Expect to see it become increasingly realistic as hardware gets better. We’re not so far off the day when a mobile IRV device can trigger all five senses creating a truly immersive experience. Imagine a feeling the cold winds against your face, the reverberation of your rifle and the smell of gunshot as you fire against an enemy in a future game of Call of Duty. Further down the line, there’s even the possibility of being the main actor in a movie, changing the outcome by our every action.

 

The future of immersive virtual reality is bright and we’ll be making sure we stay at the forefront.