What is virtual reality?
By virtual reality (VR) in this article, we will mean simulations created using virtual reality helmets. There is a helmet - VR. No helmet - no VR.
What is a VR headset?
There are many models of VR helmets (headsets), the technology is the same: there are two small monitors in front of your eyes, the picture on reacts of it to head turns and / or movements in space as if you were seeing real objects. Due to this, the user is more deeply involved in what is happening in the virtual space, also he can look in all directions and, in some cases, even interact with virtual objects.
How are VR helmets different?
It differs in price, for example, some of helmets can cost 2 times more than others. The difference in price is due to differences in features and quality.
The simplest and most massive product that was designed to make virtual reality cheap are cardboards and its more complex counterparts. Some in our industry also call them VR glasses, thus separating them from VR helmets. So, this is a box with lenses into which the phone is inserted. The built-in gyroscope tracks head movements. The phone screen is programmatically divided in half, each half shows an image for its own eye, and, it would seem, virtual reality is obtained.
And now the big BUT, which rather spoiled the reputation of virtual reality than helped to popularize it. If you use cheap phone models in cardboards, with cheap motion sensors inside (gyroscopes), screens with low pixel density and weak processors that do not have time to update the picture with sufficient frequency (FPS - the number of frames per second), then there is not immersion, but dizziness, headaches and nausea. If we use phones with a high pixel density and high-quality sensors, then the solution ceases to be a budget one. Therefore, cardboards were quickly replaced by stand-alone VR headsets, comparable in price to the average smartphone, but far superior in quality of immersion.
Budget VR headsets
Such helmets have the same functionality as cardboards - it tracks only the turns and rotation of the head, but not movement in space. In technical terms, they have three degrees of freedom - 3 DOF. Unlike smartphones, they track efficiently and flawlessly. They are great for watching 360 videos and simple apps. In addition to the helmet itself, at least 1 controller is standardly included in the kit - in fact, a remote control, the movement of which is also monitored. With the help of the controller, interaction with the menu and virtual objects takes place.
Examples: Oculus Go ($150 when ordering from the USA and from 18,000 rubles when buying in Russia), Pico G2 (from 35,000).
Important features: do not require connection to a computer - there are no wires. At the same time, they are limited in time of use by the capacity of the battery. 3D graphics are also severely limited in the "realism" - a powerful "hardware" capable of processing complex graphics will not fit into a small lightweight helmet. Virtual worlds in such helmets are always "cartoonish".
VR helmets powered by a computer
Such helmets are also called VR headsets, because all the calculations are carried out on a computer, and the helmet simply shows a picture. Due to this, we get a much higher level of graphics, up to realistic on the most powerful computers. Most often, the helmet is connected to the computer by a wire, and some models use additional external sensors.
Everyone knows what is the difference between "weak" and "powerful".
How helmets can differ:
ergonomics (how comfortable the helmet sits on the head, screen resolution)
- viewing angle;
- pixel density (essentially resolution divided by viewing angle);
- lens features;
- the way and quality of determining the position in space of the helmet and controllers.
Helmet manufacturers typically categorize their headsets into "custom" and "business" pricing. As of June 2020, of the custom helmets available for purchase, the most popular is Oculus Quest, from the "for business" segment - Valve Index.
Estimated prices in this case are 150,000 rubles for one VR kit (50,000 helmet and 100,000 computer). Of course, there are cheaper options, there are more expensive ones, but a review of helmets will take a separate article. There is only one principle: the higher the level of graphics and realism of the picture you want, the more powerful devices you need. Hyper-realistic graphics require a computer with the latest hardware, such as an NVidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card, and a high resolution VR headset. The total cost of such a kit can be up to 300-400 thousand rubles. At the same time, simple applications can also be run on computers with a GeForce GTX 960, and Oculus Quest cost about 50,000 rubles before quarantine measures.
An important difference between these helmets is six degrees of freedom. It means that in these helmets you can not only look around, but also move with your feet in virtual space. Don't be afraid, the built-in security system will alert you if you get close to real objects or walls. This gives a fundamentally higher level of immersion: you can inspect virtual objects in a natural way, simply bypassing them from different sides or approaching and moving away physically with your feet.
Standalone 6DOF Headset
we should tell about the helmet Oculus Quest, that was mentioned in more detail. Now it is the main product of Oculus (owned by Facebook), and it has no analogues. The fact is that initially, in May 2019, it went on sale as an autonomous helmet with six degrees of freedom, combining the advantage of presentation glasses - the absence of wires, and computer helmets - free movement in space. Working on a mobile chip, it does not “pull” a realistic level of graphics, but for many tasks (for example, VR learning) it is optimal. At the same time, since December 2019, he received the ability to connect by wire to a computer, thus becoming the first hybrid VR helmet.
Now that we have dealt with the equipment, let's move on to the equally important part - the content.
Without software, hardware is useless, to immerse yourself in virtual reality, you need someone to create this reality first. At the same time, the content can be very diverse, which is why the number of areas where virtual reality is used is so large.
The opportunity to show the product with its face, create a connection between the person and the brand, show the “inner kitchen” of the company. It can be a corporate game that introduces the values of the company, shows offices, employees, production. In virtual reality, you can provide instant access to your entire product range, easily change, and adapt your applications, add new content and assortment. It is also always possible to create and adapt content for different types of clients.
Thanks to virtual reality, a person can at any time look at the “goods in person”. The virtual showroom allows you to demonstrate even the largest product line. VR also allows real sellers to be remotely connected to product demonstrations. Thus, a small virtual reality helmet turns into a large-scale sales center. VR is effective for b2b and b2c segments, the difference is only in product visualization. If your product can be modified, then VR is great at showing how it will look like.
You can not only present the product, but also do it through the game, increasing the credibility of your brand. Record and study how users behave in the application, adjust and supplement it to increase sales.
Virtual reality makes it possible to effectively train employees in interaction with clients and colleagues, hone business processes, and study the operation of complex equipment. Virtual reality technologies provide almost limitless opportunities for creating training courses of various levels of complexity, testing, and monitoring the learning process. Most models of inexpensive virtual reality glasses are suitable for making a training course, so creating it becomes the most expensive part of the course.
The main advantage of VR in learning is the level of immersion in the situation. The human brain quickly forgets that it is in the application and the person begins to behave naturally. Thus, we not only train him, but also see his behavior on the example of various events. A person remembers better through the game, this has been proven by various studies. Thanks to VR, we can involve a person in the learning process and make it interesting. Each lesson is recorded and saved. Training applications can be of different levels of complexity and include testing modes, error handling, online training with an instructor. Any educational courses easily change not only visually, but also structurally. Quick replacement of dialogues, interiors, characters allow to effectively refine the learning process. You will not need to create each course from scratch, just make changes to the current one. Each new educational course becomes cheaper for you thanks to previous developments. The more you develop VR education in your company, the more accessible it becomes for you.
The development of VR devices has made it possible to use virtual reality for a wide variety of industries. The main application is staff training and simulation. VR allows you to effectively teach employees not only the rules of behavior in the workplace, but also allow to improve your skills in working with complex equipment. virtual reality allows to visualize even the most complex processes and phenomena While working on a new product, so it simplifies testing and development.
Recently virtual reality has become an effective tool for real estate, thanks to the emergence of new models of VR glasses that allow you to show the visualization of objects in high quality. Your customers will be able not only to see future objects with their own eyes, but also to interact with objects inside apartments, add their own interior items, change the visual style of the interior. For built objects, an inexpensive solution with 360 video is perfect, which allows a person to see the object ready for occupancy with his own eyes.
Exhibitions and events
Virtual reality has a wide range of applications for events: demonstration applications, games for guests, company presentation. The key difference between development for events is the time of contact of users with the application. After 4 years of creating VR applications for a variety of events, the Helmeton team has learned how to get maximum efficiency for the brand in a short period of customer interaction with VR applications. VR-stand allows not only to entertain guests and get acquainted with the company, but also to present a new product and sell it. A virtual presentation helps your sales team by visualizing a product or service, that’s especially effective for a large assortment or oversized products.
The main feature of games in virtual reality is the full immersion of the player in the game world. If the gameplay involves active interaction between the player and the world around him, then the involvement of the player goes to a completely different level compared to ordinary games. For 4 years of creating VR games, the Helmeton team has gathered great expertise in creating entertaining games for business and understands the specifics of development.
As you can see, virtual reality is a technology with great potential. We are confident, and soon the technology will develop, more and more models of helmets and software solutions will appear.
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