How does VR Technology work?
From watching simple sliding low quality videos to high definition content helping with PTSD, we have come a long way from using Virtual Reality just as an entertainment tool to a fully
functioning high definition therapeutic virtual environment platform. Not only that, it has transitioned into a realm of training environment where it can assist defense forces across the world train soldiers for future combat roles. While one continues to be awestruck by the applications and extent of the VR, he has to wonder at some point the technology stack used or in other words how does this enigma work in the first place? What kind of sorcery does it employ? And how does it make us oblivious to anything that surrounds us? To put it simply, how does VR work?
Lucky for us, despite being a very robust platform, none of the VR Gear uses any rocket science and understanding the mechanism of virtual reality headset working is rather very simple. It combines the two existing phenomena and transforms them into a single platform which simultaneously engages our two primary senses: sight and sound, and is in fact the building block for all the working VR technologies. The virtual reality headset relies upon two autofocus lenses placed between the screen and eyes. A secondary source such as, a mobile phone or an HDMI cable connected to a laptop acts as a rendering medium. The technology behind VR does sound simple but it needs the user to be fully immersed as well, and not all are virtual reality glasses are considered as fully immersive virtual environment platform so it begs us the question: if all the VR devices/glasses use the same hardware why do they differ in terms of features and quality and what makes some companies put a $2000 price tag on their VR Set where you can actually buy an ordinary set of 1/100th of the price?
The answer is simple. Because, the proprietary software technology behind virtual reality starts with screen refresh rate and frames per second rate. The fps rate is the speed of the GPU to render images and screen refresh rate is the pace of the display to render images. In order for the virtual reality headset to be fully operational, the value of both of the components needs to be equal otherwise the user might experience motion sickness due to monocularity. If this issue arises, it can be rectified by limiting the fps rate to the screen refresh rate. If they are equal, we move to the magnitude of fps. According to Dr. Jonathan Steuer, a frame rate of 20-30 fps is ample to create working VR goggles. However, the market standard implies that it ought to be at least 60 fps. In other words, the more it is, better the VR Set becomes. However, the value of fps must be kept synchronous to the screen refresh rate, otherwise the user might experience lag or the screen showing pixelated media between the media being played from the rendering source and the screen causing screen door effect. Now, it comes to the field of view. Field of vision or view allows the users to move their head and sight towards the display. A simple working pair of VR glasses needs 100-degree field of view, but of-course, a top notch VR such as, Star Vr headset has a much wider matching the stereoscopic field of view ranging up to 210 degrees preceding Oculus VR Field of View of 100 degrees and Google Cardboard’s 80 degrees.
Now, the table has been set and you have a working virtual reality environment in the form of a VR headset but we are still not finished as what truly makes a VR Gear to stand out from the rest of virtual technologies in the vr world is its low or zero latency rate-it is defined as the gap between the point when the user acts to the corresponding change in the point of view. If it is high, it makes the user actively realize that he is in an artificial environment therefore putting a damper on the entire user experience. If the Virtual reality headset has passed the 20 milliseconds test or if the latency score is lower than 290 milliseconds, voila-it is good to go! But, this is not enough. The sound can turn out to be a trump card as well in evaluating a VR technology. If there is even a bit of lag or distortion with music and genre of the video, both the immersive and interactive experience is ruined. Just imagine a user wearing a Project Morpheus headset with OLED display and high definition headphones playing an action packed video game with bullets swirling around and all the adrenaline pumping scenes but there is no sound at all! We will leave it there.
Head and eye tracking are the last players in defining what can be achieved by using laser pointers, led lights, or mobile sensors. For mobile devices, an accelerometer for 3-dimensional movement, gyroscope for angular movement, and magnetometer to identify the position relative to Earth ought to be technology behind eye and head tracking for virtual reality. If all of these features are properly configured they help the VR set in motion tracking giving us a perfect virtual reality system.