"Virtual reality" (or immersive multimedia or computer simulated reality) typically refers to computer technology that simulates the physical presence. A user in an environment artificially generated by software, an environment with which the user can interact. Virtual reality artificially reproduces a sensory experience. It may include sight, touch, hearing and smell (visual, sound or haptic).
The purpose of virtual reality is to allow a person (or several) to experience an immersion or not. In other words, to carry out a sensori-motor and cognitive activity in a digitally created world that can be "imaginary, symbolic or a simulation of certain aspects of the real world" (P. Fuchs)
It can be a reproduction of the real world or a totally imaginary universe. The experience is both visual, auditory and, in some cases, haptic with the production of a return of effects. When the person is equipped with the appropriate interfaces, such as gloves or clothing, they may feel certain sensations related to touch or certain actions (blow, impact, etc.).
the case of "Augmented Reality" (AR)
Simply speaking, augmented reality uses the real world to display information (in 2D or 3D), with which the user will be able to interact.
This data appears through a specific device, which can go from the helmet (or glasses) to a smartphone, tablet or computer.
It is therefore a technology superimposing virtual elements (numbers, images, texts) to our vision of the real world.
The perceived reality is thus augmented by digital information allowing to give more details about its environment.
One of the benefits of augmented reality glasses is that they can operate autonomously and be easily transportable.
Unlike virtual reality headphones, it can be an object used daily to take pictures, surf the net, geotag or work.
For the time being reserved for a restricted audience and difficult to afford. It will be a few years before their prices fall and their use democratized.
It is also possible to mix both technology : Virtual reality and Augmented Reality, it is thus called it "Mixed Reality":
As with augmented reality, the user of a mixed reality headset sees superimposing digital information over his surroundings.
Nevertheless, rather than some data such as text or images, these virtual elements can be pushed to simulate real living elements.
For example, it is entirely conceivable to see a fully virtual character appear in his living room.
With its Hololens glasses, Microsoft goes so far as to talk about interactive holograms. It is not quite that, but we are not far from it.
The Applications of Virtual Reality
The virtual reality for the general public is growing from 2015 with the arrival of more efficient and affordable headsets. Google plays the map of democratization by proposing a cardboard model called Google Cardboard that uses smartphone as display system. Several manufacturers including Samsung (Gear VR), HTC (HTC Vive), Sony (PlayStation VR) and Oculus (Oculus Rift) are releasing headsets equipped with motion sensors. They are tailored mainly for video games and recreational applications. More expensive, they connect to a computer or a game console.
Virtual reality also has numerous other applications: training with simulators, treatment of phobias, simulation of surgical procedures, architecture, archeology with the reconstruction of sites, virtual visits of museums, etc.
Virtual reality is still a young technology. There are thus many limitations which it is not yet possible to overcome. However, it has the advantage of developing rapidly and in all sectors of activity. Potential applications in the industry are product design, training, rapid prototyping, planning and control of manufacturing processes. Other alternative applications are offered by companies that use data visualization. Thanks to all these opportunities, it is possible to improve considerably the quality of training of the engineers or the reduction of the costs for certain prototypes. Not to mention the time saving these approaches can bring.
Yet virtual reality is not adopted by everyone. There are indeed limitations or even disadvantages to using this new technology. The lack of staff competence and compatibility with existing equipment are examples of problems occurring within companies that have already decided to use virtual reality.
If the image is not thin enough and the blinks too many, the headaches are guaranteed; On the contrary, to have an image so clean and natural that it deceives the brain, more power is needed, and potentially heavier, more expensive, or more warming devices.
Otherwise Virtual reality headsets are not the most engaging: bulky and objectionable aesthetics, they also have defects in their quality.
Social Media and VR
The use of photography has greatly boosted the development of social media. The democratization of panoramic photos and 360 videos thanks to cheap cameras like the samsung VR 360, will also accelerate the phenomenon involving with it the use of virtual reality headsets.
For Samsung, this immersive technology will bring real progress to Facebook and Twitter users, who share a lot of clichés and videos: The development of social networks has been boosted by sharing photos. The selfies of tomorrow will be photos and even videos realized 360 °, in which the Internet users will be able to plunge totally if they are equipped with a VR headset.
As for the major brands, they have already understood the interest of virtual reality for their communication strategy. It is therefore very likely that they will soon take a seat on these spaces of encounters and discussion as they did on Second Life.
a guide to VR: https://www.cnet.com/special-reports/vr101/ the best VR Headsets of 2017: http://www.pcmag.com/article/342537/the-best-virtual-reality-vr-headsets Will virtual reality change your life? http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/will-virtual-reality-change-your-life-20160523 A selection of 3D / 360 / VR Audio Podcasts & Articles