Virtual Reality

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Virtual Reality is making a comeback. Ever since the Oculus Rift Kickstarter, and their subsequent acquisition by Facebook the media has been awash with stories about Virtual Reality (VR) being "the future" at a level not seen since the last VR boom of the early 90s. But what is Virtual Reality, should you be interested in it, and how does Google Cardboard change the game?

Virtual Reality is commonly taken to be the use of a 3D stereoscopic headset to view and experience a 3D scene or virtual world. The headset (also called a head-mounted display - HMD) is fully enclosed so ALL you see is what is in the 3D virtual world. A "head tracker" in the HMD tracks your head movements, left-right, up-down, and moves your virtual view accordingly - so it really does feel like you are in the space. Add a joystick, game controller or other device to control movement and allow you to walk (or fly) through the world and you really begin to get the "I'm really there" experience. You can also build on this basic level by adding audio and even tactile/haptic feedback so you see, hear and feel as though you are really there - giving you and your customers a highly engaging experience.

3 Main Types of VR Application

We've identified 3 main types of virtual reality application:

  • The photosphere - quick and easy to make, putting the user at the centre of a spherical photo and letting them look all around and take a point by point virtual tour of a location - read more about Photospheres
  • The object viewer/product catalogue - looking at objects in a 3D space, they appear to "hang" just in front of you, and can be rotated, zoomed and animated, and form the basis of a virtual catalogue or heritage/art object tour - read more about 3D product catalogues
  • The site explorer - letting you explore a location, task or subject in detail and with a high degree of freedom and agency as you move around the 3D model of a location, and even interact with other avatars - driven by other users or bots. Read more about VR explorer apps

The Photosphere The Object Viewer The Site Explorer

This blog post on 3 Types of VR App provides more information.

Headset Options

Another important distinction to make clear is that application type is not related to the headset. We can produce any of the above three application models on both a £10 Google Cardboard headset and a £500+ Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset. Which headset you use is far more closely related to your specific use case. The diagram below summarises the pros and cons of the main two headset types (Smartphone and Integrated) plotted against the two approaches to content creation and mapped to some of the most common VR use cases we are seeing.

Again you can read more about our VR Landscape in one of our blog posts.

The Benefits

Whilst VR technology is getting better and better (particularly visually) there can be a real issue with motion sickness - so using a headset for more than a few minutes can be quite off-putting to some people. So it will be a long time (and probably a different technology) before people do a whole hour long learning exercise or data analysis task purely in VR. But VR is great right now for short imagination-capturing immersive pieces right now, and for using alongside more conventional immersive environment experiences, providing increased engagement, extra value, and add that additional level of immersion just when it's needed.

And Daden is a safe pair of hands and your ideal partner for your VR projects. As far as we are concerned VR is actually nothing special. Since Daden works almost exclusively in full 3D immersive environments pretty much every project we've ever done could be made available through VR - we just make slight changes to the UI and the viewer. And since our environments are mostly multi-user you can have one user on a laptop, another on a smartphone or tablet, and another with a VR headset, all not only experiencing the same place but also able to collaborate and interact with each other.

Download and Try Daden VR Apps

You can download the following Daden VR apps to understand a bit more about what VR apps can do:

Next Steps

So whether you're interested in a pure VR experience for marketing, visualisation or education, or VR as part of a larger immersive environment for education, trainining or data visualisation then we can help - just get in touch to arrange a demo, learn more about the technology and its benefits and talk through your requirements.