Virtual reality, as referred to in this article, typically requires a head-mounted display, a computer, smartphone, or console that generates a 3D environment, and some form of input tracking, such as hand, voice, or head tracking.
There are currently a number of head-mounted displays that employ this configuration, including products from Oculus, HP, HTC, and PlayStation.
As mentioned, some VR devices include a display that separates the feed for each eye. In these instances, a cable (typically HDMI) will transfer the video from your computer or gaming console to the screen(s) in front of your eyes. Other more affordable VR devices display virtual reality content on your smartphone.
There are also standalone, wire-free devices, such as the Oculus Quest 2, that provide entry-level to intermediate VR experiences without requiring an expensive smartphone or gaming PC to operate. In recent years, these have become increasingly impressive. With the Quest 2's ability to play PC games without discernible quality loss. Using an Oculus Link (USB-C) cable, the Oculus Quest 2 can run PCVR games, and the company is working to make this experience wireless as well.
Creating a fully immersive experience, which is the goal of many companies in this industry, requires a great deal more. For instance, there are lenses for transforming images into stereoscopic 3D images, and 100 or 110-degree field of views to ensure that the created world follows your gaze in any direction. In order to maintain the illusion, a high frame rate (at least 60 fps) is required to ensure that the world reacts realistically.
Input tracking comes in a variety of forms, all of which contribute to the creation of this fully immersive world, whether used individually or in combination. Diverse components, ranging from sensors and LEDs to wireless controllers, are utilized by various devices for this purpose.
Sony PlayStation VR, for instance, offers 360-degree head tracking by monitoring signals from nine LED lights encircling the headset with a PS4 camera. When it comes to head tracking, low latency is required to ensure that there is minimal lag between your head movement and the virtual world's response. Oculus Rift S is one of the better devices in this respect.
From smart gloves to Oculus Touch, Valve's Lighthouse, and HTC's controllers for the Vive headset, motion tracking has appeared in a variety of forms. The purpose of each of these is to give you the impression that you are using your hands throughout your experience. We will not delve into the specifics, but a multitude of sensors and, in some cases, lasers emitted from base stations aid in the detection of the precise position of your head and hands.
Six degrees of freedom (6DoF) tracking is also a part of accurate tracking of headset and hand movements. This enables the technology to accurately track your real-world movement and translate it into the virtual game world.
This tracking ensures that all of your movements, including backwards, forwards, up and down, and side to side, are tracked correctly for the most immersive experience possible. This tracking is essential for some of the most physically demanding games. Boxing in virtual reality is a prime example, as the virtual reality headset must detect when you duck to avoid a punch or swing your own in response.
Regarding the most talked-about head-mounted displays, this is essentially all that is involved. There are, however, additional elements that could enhance the VR experience. Eye tracking is one of these. Eye tracking would provide a more realistic depth of field, resulting in a more genuine experience.
This type of improvement is already beginning to reach the market. The HTC Vive Pro Eye, for instance, has built-in eye-tracking and enables you to control menus and interact with the virtual world using only your eye movements.
Future headsets may utilize eye tracking to enhance your experience in additional ways. For instance, if the tracking can determine where you're looking, the game can render that area in greater detail than your peripheral vision or things you're not focusing on. This will not only optimize rendering, but also enhance the experience overall.
Hand tracking is a second method. The development of new devices that accurately track hand and finger movement within video games is currently underway. In the future, this technology could eliminate the need for game controllers, leading to significantly more immersive gaming experiences.
Having the ability to observe your hands being accurately tracked within a virtual reality environment is quite remarkable. Additionally, additional technologies are being developed to make this experience more tactile. When you can see and touch what you're interacting with, the experiences become more real.
These enhancements are also being incorporated into the most cutting-edge flagship headphones. The Valve Index, for instance, has controllers that permit a more natural grip during gameplay and allow games to track each of your fingers. Future upgrades, such as the Leap Motion controller for controller-free finger tracking, could be mounted in its expansion slot.
The Quest 2 incorporates hand and finger tracking, and there are even games that utilize this technology to create engaging gaming experiences.