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The tech behind virtual reality


Last updated 3/1/2019 at 1:01am

TEMECULA – Daydreaming about deep space or the depths of the ocean used to be bits of escapism that could never truly be experienced; however, thanks to the ever-evolving magic of technology, devices that transport people to other worlds without having to leave the comfort of home have taken fantasies to entirely new levels.

Virtual reality devices have become popular and increasingly available to consumers working with various budgets. Such devices provide entertainment and educational benefits as well. For example, students who are learning about the Great Wall of China are not restricted to reading about it or watching videos. They can actually traverse the wall from the classroom.

When putting virtual reality headsets on, users may ponder how the technology works. What turns an ordinary living room into a distant galaxy?

The primary purpose of virtual reality is to stimulate vision. Every virtual reality set creates an immersive 3D environment based on computer-driven imagery, states the technology information site NewGenApps. Headsets put two screens in front of a person's eyes and block out all interaction and distractions. The lenses auto-focus based on individual eye movement and head positioning. In some cases, the lenses can be adjusted to match the distance between a person's eyes to produce a customized effect.

Video is directed from a computer or video gaming console to the headset via an HDMI cable in more expensive and immersive virtual reality systems. In others, the headset is connected to a smartphone which renders the images, advises the tech gear guide Wearable.

The lenses will focus and reshape the picture projected for each eye and create a stereoscopic 3D image by reconfiguring the two 2D images. It mimics how two eyes view the world slightly differently from one another. Most high-end headsets will use a 100- or 110-degree field of view to create a lifelike virtual reality environment.

In addition to the headset, a good frame per second-rate is needed to avoid image flickering that can cause motion sickness or distortion. Virtual reality headsets have significantly higher requirements than ordinary video games in regard to the time it takes from a change in input to have a visual effect. Many virtual reality headsets achieve 60 fps, while higher-end models can reach upward of 120 fps, according to virtual reality engineers.

To complete the immersion, virtual reality uses head-tracking technology. It means when a person angles his head in different directions, the virtual reality image will adjust accordingly. Most use a system called 6DoF, which means 6 degrees of freedom, to plot head location on an axis and measure movement. Again, the higher-end models will have much lower lag times in terms of head tracking.

Impressive sound can complete the virtual reality experience. As technology continues to expand, price points come down and high-quality virtual reality is more affordable for the masses.


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