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Virtual Reality 101

What you need to know about virtual tech

Virtual reality, or VR, is making a huge impact in the technology world this year. Many of the largest players in tech are coming out with new devices for a technology that’s been around for decades. Don’t call it a comeback, it’s been here for years. So what is VR, and how can you get in on it?


What is VR and how does it differ from AR?

You use virtual reality by putting on special headsets that display separate images for each of your eyes. It might sound crazy, but that’s what makes it so immersive. For now, it’s mostly used for gaming. For example, instead of looking at a game from a fixed angle, you can turn your head, walk around, and explore on your own.


Augmented reality (AR) describes an emerging technology that heightens live experiences through some form of computer imagery. One well-known television example is using AR to add the first down and scrimmage lines to the field in American football telecasts. It has also been used in the video game industry to inject advertising into a game.


What kind of equipment is involved?

There are two main types of VR headsets: connected and mobile. The connected headsets require an additional device, like a computer or game console. They are considered more immersive since they have more power. If you just want to check out VR for the first time, though, connected VR headsets are probably not the way to go—unless you are ready to drop close to $1,000.


The easiest way to get in to VR is with mobile. If you already have a Samsung Galaxy S6 (or newer), you can get a Samsung Gear VR. This headset is basically a holder for a compatible phone. You snap your phone into the headset, and it goes in to VR mode. Then, you can use or download VR apps.


Where is VR going?

Gaming is great, but what’s more exciting is what it could be used for in the future. There’s already been uses in medicine, where doctoral students are able to watch a surgery from the perspective of the performing surgeon. If you wanted to move to a new place, you could walk through different places without leaving home.


If 2016 was the return of virtual reality, 2017 is when things will really start to blow up. Try the tech and let us know about with #TheBridgeATT.


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