2021 Trend Almanac: Technologies and trends that will dominate the business and consumer landscape. Get instant access
Virtual Reality (VR) refers to computer-created, simulated environments that allow for user interaction when wearing electronic equipment outfitted with sensors, such as goggles or gloves. In these artificial, three-dimensional (3-D) realms, users are immersed in realistic-feeling worlds and able to act with consequence within those virtual worlds. This differs from augmented reality (AR), as AR superimposes graphic illustrations onto the current environment, but is not interactive.
VR systems utilize both software and hardware. Software programs are the base, but specific hardware such as headphones or goggles are required to allow the user to fully participate. The gaming industry has adopted this technology with the implementation of VR games. Big gaming corporations have created some of the most advanced VR technology within their gaming systems, such as Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive Cosmos, and the Sony PlayStation VR system. These gaming systems utilize a VR headset to transport players from their living room to science fiction and fantasy worlds.
Outside of the gaming industry, VR uses are seen in 3-D movies, virtual tours of homes and even cities, and in training simulations. Movies with 3-D technology use virtual reality to involve viewers in the motion of the film, from action flights to gentle breezes. Virtual tours have become increasingly popular in this day and age, allowing viewers to tour homes for sale without leaving their car or curl up on the couch with a virtual tour of the Louvre in Paris. Training simulation is invaluable for high-risk jobs such as pilots, healthcare professionals, and first responders. Virtual reality software can create patient emergencies, airplane engine failure, hit and run scenarios, driving scenarios, and more. Training for real-world emergencies in a virtual space is quickly becoming the standard.