There are now virtual realities in a wide variety of areas. But even though the initial hype seems to be over, tech giants like Apple continue to invest in the technology. We explain to you how virtual reality works.

Whether the Apple Vision Pro, Meta Quest, Playstation VR or the Metaverse: These are just a few terms related to virtual reality – VR for short. It is translated as “virtual reality” – a reality simulated by computers. Users can move freely and interact with virtual content.

With the help of appropriate hardware and software, they can immerse themselves in an artificial world and have realistic experiences there – for example at VR concerts or games. This type of experience is called immersion.

How does virtual reality work?

Human eyes have different viewing angles due to their position. When we look around, our eyes perceive individual “images”. They then send the information to our brain. There they are then combined by our thinking organ calculating the corresponding difference from the images.

This creates a spatial impression in the brain. This process is called stereoscopic vision. It is also the basis for virtual reality. To mimic the effect, three-dimensional images create a spatial impression in the brain. To experience this, users need so-called head-mounted displays: VR glasses.

VR glasses: Immerse yourself in another world

VR glasses are also based on the principle of stereoscopic vision. Because they create images on two displays in front of the wearer’s eyes. In this case, the difference between the visual impressions of both eyes is simulated by software so that the brain can calculate a three-dimensional impression from the two slightly different images.

Users can look around the virtual world using 360-degree films and VR applications. VR tracking also records real movements and transfers them to the virtual world. This gives users the feeling of interacting with their surroundings.

To do this, cameras and sensors are built into VR glasses, controllers and other accessories that track the movements of the eyes and other parts of the body. By moving your head, the image adapts to the viewing direction using built-in sensors, thus creating a 360-degree impression.

Especially with video games, users feel as if they are really in the artificial environment and are experiencing everything up close. The whole thing is also supported by haptic feedback, because this way you can also feel in virtual reality.

How does virtual reality work: lifelike experiences in visual reality

Virtual reality is not only used in gaming, but also in the B2B and B2C sectors. It is particularly popular in image films, factory or stadium tours or product presentations, among other things. VR films offer those interested the opportunity to look around real environments without actually being there.

The films are filmed with 360-degree cameras. Six individual cameras record the different angles, which are then subsequently brought together in video software. Another program converts this all-round view into the two lenses of the VR glasses.

The future of VR in our lives

Virtual reality is actually not a new concept. The so-called View-Master appeared as early as 1939 and combined seven stereoscopic 3D color slides on a cardboard disc in order to view them as a film. Over the decades, companies continued to experiment with the technology.

When Palmer Lucky founded the company Oculus in 2012, virtual reality got a new lease of life. Just two years later, Facebook bought the VR glasses manufacturer. In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would change his company name to Meta and henceforth focus on building the Metaverse.

But virtual reality is being discussed again and again not only because of Zuckerberg’s idea for the future, but also because of Tim Cook’s enthusiasm for Apple Vision Pro. VR could soon have a significant impact on our actual reality and our everyday lives.

Because virtual reality opens up new learning and working opportunities. Even leisure activities that were previously perhaps too dangerous or expensive can be experienced via VR. However, experts always doubt that the technology and especially the metaverse will really hold its own.

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