We can define 360 degree VR (Virtual Reality) as a simulated or captured environment that surrounds the user, allowing him to watch in all directions just as if he was inside this environnement. There is diferent types of 360-degree VR, live and previously captured video, real time rendered 3D games and pre-rendered computer graphics imagery (CGI).
The first reference to Virtual Reality comes from the 1930’s with Antonin Artaud, a French dramatist, poet, essayist, actor, and theatre director. To see the first actual immersive experience you would have to wait for the 60s with the Sensorama (a mechanical device with five short films to be displayed in it while engaging multiple senses (sight, sound, smell, and touch) and the first augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display (HMD) system called “The Sword of Damocles” (it was so heavy that it had to be suspended from the ceiling).
The big revolution nowadays in VR comes from two different things, the Display (ARHMD and social media) and the possibility to capture 360-degree VR video way easily than before.
There are 3 major areas that have driven the 360 Degree VR technology.
-The one tech area that started this new revolution is the evolution in head mounted display like the Occulus Rift. This technology is now more accessible than ever and plenty of choice will be available soon or is already available (Occulus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Google Cardboard, etc…). With this also comes the evolution of social media like Facebook or Youtube that now support 360-degree VR video.
-The second key area is the evolution in cameras. Shooting 360-degree video is now much easier than before and allows almost anyone to create VR content. Small cameras like the Ricoh Theta or the Kodak Pixpro open this new world of 360-degree video to the masses. For the professional there are several options to shoot 360 video, from the new Nokia OZO to the NEXT VR camera or a homemade mount with RED camera. All of them provide bluffing (bluffing???) and immersive images.
-The area driving this new technology is the real time rendered 3D games and pre-rendered 3D games. Real time rendered is basically a video game – it has always existed but the upcoming ARHMD (DEFINE) (and the quality of graphics we have nowaday) will change the way we play and the way we interact with the game. Pre-rendered basically creates a 360 video by using a game engine. You will not be able to move freely or interact like in a game.
The possibilities uses of virtual reality are very large! The main domain of application for the new VR headset will be Video Games, followed by Live Events and Video Entertainment (both really connected (what do you mean here?)). Other uses of it will include Military, Healthcare, Engineering, etc. New ways of using virtual reality are discovered every day and you will soon be able to visit a house you want to buy with virtual reality and never leave your home or office.
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The Virtual Reality sickness is close to the motion sickness. It starts when a disagreement exists between visually perceived movement and the vestibular system’s sense of movement. This is one of the main limitations of VR right now (even if it doesn’t affect everyone the same way), how to have movement in your video without making people sick. Which led us to another limitation in 360 degree VR video, you can’t move freely in the video. You have to deal with the movement in the video and you can’t do anything about it (No free exploration like in video game). Another limitation is the fact that those video experiences are pretty lonely so far, it is hard to share the experience with someone else.
What can we expect for the near future with VR? Most of the limitations we know right now might tend to disappear. It will be hard to make the virtual reality sickness disappear but new technologies tend to minimize it. We can already see new kind of camera that allows small movement inside the video (Lytro Immerge) even if this technology is hard to access. More and more people will get access to VR headset in the near future (mostly Cardboard) , mostly because of product like the cardboard.