Virtual Reality (VR) is our reality here at Circus, it’s something we live and breathe. But we’re aware that’s not the same for everyone, and sometimes it’s an area that can cause confusion for others. So we’ve decided to try and explain some of the terms that are frequently used and clear up some common myths and misconceptions about virtual reality (VR) in the hope that it inspires you to see and understand the virtual world through a new lens. Are you ready? Let’s go!
The jargon and what it actually means
As in every industry, specific terms and jargon emerge that can be impenetrable to anyone outside of it.
Digital: whatis.com describes ‘digital’ as electronic technology that generates, stores, and processes data in terms of two states: positive and non-positive. Positive is expressed or represented by the number 1 and non-positive by the number 0. Our digital experience is often viewed online through means such as Zoom, social media and office software. (You can see the full definition of ‘digital’ here).
Virtual: When we use the word “virtual”, we tend to mean online via a computer or device. We use it to define an interaction that does not take place in an in-person physical environment.
Virtual Reality (VR): Virtual reality is defined as ‘an artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (such as sights and sounds) provided by a computer and in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment’ by Merriam-Webster. We’d like to add to that by slightly expanding on how virtual reality is experienced. Usually, when we’re talking about virtual reality, this also means being solely in that experience, normally by using a headset.
Immersion/ Immersive: When we refer to immersion in the context of our work and virtual reality, it usually refers to a virtual reality experience whilst wearing a headset, meaning the user is completely immersed in the virtual reality environment, rather than the physical environment around them.
Augmented Reality (AR): Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality, but with some key differences. Instead of creating a totally different world as VR can, augmented reality overlays visual or audio information over someone’s real world experience. The real world is not replaced, but added to. This usually involves a headset or AR glasses. What’s the point? It frees up the user from needing to check any other devices – all the information is right there in front of them.
Interactive: When we use the word ‘interactive’ in this context, we mean any virtual experience with clickable options – computer or headset
360 Photography & Videography: These terms refer to how VR and AR are both created and experienced. Pictures and videos are taken of every angle to ensure the user has a full experience and that everything is as ‘real’ as possible.
If you were in the market for some clarity around these terms, we hope that’s helped. These terms can be added together to describe more fully the type of experience that’s being offered. For example, we’ve recently created an interactive learning tool using high definition 360 photography for the UK government. You can check it out here.
5 Common Misunderstandings about Virtual Reality (VR)
- VR is just for gaming
It is true that gaming has taken off technologially, ever since the first gaming consoles came onto the market. And it’s true that gaming has become more and more sophisticated, as technology has advanced. And lots of gaming platforms use VR or virtual tools to enhance their in game experience. But is VR just for gaming? Absolutely not! VR is quietly revolutionising several industries. The military are using it to better train troops. The medical profession are using it to practice intense surgical operations. Virtual tourism has taken off. There are so many applications for VR. It’s not just for gaming.
- VR is expensive and complicated
This misunderstanding was rooted in truth, which is now a little outdated. But like the majority of products, the price point ranges from budget friendly options to budget busting. So joining the virtual revolution doesn’t have to mean missing out on your family holiday! How much or little can you expect to pay for a VR headset? You can pick up one for as little as £29.99. Some headsets come with hand controls, or you can buy these separately.
And is it complicated? If you can use a phone, you can use VR. You need to make sure your computer or device are VR compatible, but most product manufacturers clearly state what their devices are compatible with and provide advice. Depending on how confident you feel with tech, it might take a while to get the hang of (anyone remember how many Wii controllers went flying unexpectedly through the air in the early days?!) but it’s very user friendly.
- VR is antisocial
Like everything, using VR can be a solitary pursuit. In essence, you wear a headset and block out the world. But through that headset, you then enter another world which can enable us to have sociable experiences. VR can be used for interpersonal networking, holding VR meetings, discovering new places, playing games as teams. It’s about how you choose to use it. Facebook have started suggesting that they have hopes for VR as the future of social media communication. Exciting stuff!
- VR is bad for your health
When the first VR headsets came out, headaches and motion sickness were two frequently heard complaints. Every time a new headset comes onto the market, it aims to work better than the last version. This means that the comfort level has increased and there’s a wider range of settings available for you to customise to get the most out of your experience.
- VR is a passing fad
Inventions prove most useful when they are widely accepted by a variety of people, and VR is already at this point. Rather than being a passing fad, it is growing more important as the days go by. Heavyweights such as Google, Facebook and Sony are investing in virtual and VR technologies, which points to the importance of this for the future. To those outside of the virtual world, the technological future may still seem hazy, but those on the inside trust that VR is travelling in one direction – and that direction is forwards.
Have any questions about what the future of VR might mean for you and your workplace? Looking to set up some VR projects? Virtual reality and all the tools that it can offer are making a positive impact across a wide range of industries. Don’t get left behind. Contact us to see how you too can become a front runner in this latest Revolution!