Virtual reality headset
A virtual reality headset is a head-mounted device that provides virtual reality for the wearer. Virtual reality (VR) headsets are widely used with video games but they are also used in other applications, including simulators and trainers. They comprise a stereoscopic head-mounted display (providing separate images for each eye), stereo sound, and head motion tracking sensors (which may include gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers, structured light systems etc.). Some VR headsets also have eye tracking sensors and gaming controllers.
The Sega VR, announced in 1991 and seen in early 1993 at the Winter CES, was never released for consoles, but was utilized for the Sega VR-1 motion simulator arcade attraction in 1994. Another early VR headset, the Forte VFX1, was announced at CES in 1994. The VFX-1 has stereoscopic displays, 3-axis head-tracking, and stereo headphones. Sony, another pioneer, released the Glasstron in 1997, which has an optional positional sensor, allowing the wearer to view the surroundings, with the perspective moving as her head moves, giving a deep sense of immersion. These VR headsets gave MechWarrior 2 players a new visual perspective of seeing the battlefield from inside the cockpit of their craft. However, these early headsets failed commercially due to their limited technology, and they were described by John Carmack as like "looking through toilet paper tubes".
In 2012, a crowdfunding campaign began for a VR headset known as Oculus Rift; the project was led by several prominent video game developers, including Carmack who later became the company's CTO. In March 2014, the project's parent company Oculus VR was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. The final consumer-oriented release of Oculus Rift began shipping on 28 March 2016.
In March 2014, Sony demonstrated a prototype headset for PlayStation 4, which was later named PlayStation VR. In 2014, Valve demonstrated some headset prototypes, which led to a partnership with HTC to produce the Vive, which focuses on "room scale" VR environments that users can naturally navigate within and interact with. The Vive was released in April 2016 and PlayStation VR in October 2016.
Virtual reality headsets and viewers have also been designed for smartphones. Unlike headsets with integrated displays, these units are essentially enclosures which a smartphone can be inserted into. VR content is viewed from the screen of the device itself through lenses acting as a stereoscope, rather than using dedicated internal displays. Google released a series of specifications and associated DIY kits for virtual reality viewers known as Google Cardboard; these viewers are capable of being constructed using low-cost materials (and a smartphone with a gyroscope), such as cardboard (hence the naming). Samsung Electronics partnered with Oculus VR to co-develop the Samsung Gear VR (which is only compatible with recent Samsung Galaxy devices), while LG Electronics developed a headset with dedicated displays for its LG G5 smartphone known as LG 360 VR. Asian hardware manufacturers like Xion and Kolke have developed inexpensive virtual reality headsets. In 2017, Chinese company Tencent announced it was preparing to launch its virtual reality headset that year. As of 2019, Oculus and PlayStation VR dominate the VR headset market.
In June 2019, Valve released their own headset, the Valve Index, without a partnership with HTC.
Virtual reality headsets have significantly higher requirements for latency—the time it takes from a change in input to have a visual effect—than ordinary video games. If the system is too sluggish to react to head movement, then it can cause the user to experience virtual reality sickness, a kind of motion sickness. According to a Valve engineer, the ideal latency would be 7-15 milliseconds.
The graphics processing unit (GPU) also needs to be powerful enough to render the required amount of frames. Oculus cited the limited processing power of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as the reason why they are targeting the PC gaming market with their first devices.
Foveated rendering is a new technique to reduce the rendering workload. It uses eye tracking hardware to determine at what point the user is looking and reduces rendering resolution farther from the user's gaze. This can be unnoticeable to the user because human peripheral vision is far less sensitive than the fovea.
Resolution and display quality
There are different optics and visual qualities that will affect how the individual perceives the image quality and how they experience the virtual world. The image clarity depends on the display resolution, optic quality, refresh rate, and the field of view.
Because virtual reality headsets stretch a single display across a wide field of view (up to 110° for some devices according to manufacturers), the magnification factor makes flaws in display technology much more apparent. One issue is the so-called screen-door effect, where the gaps between rows and columns of pixels become visible, kind of like looking through a screen door. This was especially noticeable in earlier prototypes and development kits, which had lower resolutions than the retail versions.
The lenses of the headset are responsible for mapping the up-close display to a wide field of view, while also providing a more comfortable distant point of focus. One challenge with this is providing consistency of focus: because eyes are free to turn within the headset, it is important to avoid having to refocus to prevent eye strain.
Fresnel lenses are commonly used in virtual reality headsets due to their compactness and lightweight structure. The lenses do not use multiple pieces of material in their lenses like other lenses, but the lens will be broken down into sections, allowing the individual to have a wider range of view. The issue seen with the lens consists of seeing the ridges of the lenses when the headset is not properly aligned on the head.
The lenses introduce distortion and chromatic aberration, which are typically corrected in software. The lenses can also be adjusted dynamically to account for a user's eyeglass prescription so that the user can use the headset without corrective eyeglasses.
Virtual reality was used by Nintendo's Wii game console by having the player use a controller to interact with the game of their choice, often being sports games. Soon after the release of Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox received a full body reading system called Kinect and Sony's PlayStation got a similar virtual reality device named the PlayStation Move. These gaming devices use virtual reality to control avatars within a game, where the player's movements are copied by the avatar to complete the game. This means that the player is not truly engaged in the virtual reality world.
Uses in various fields
Virtual reality headsets are being currently used as a means to train medical students for surgery. It allows them to perform essential procedures in a virtual, controlled environment. Students perform surgeries on virtual patients, which allows them to acquire the skills needed to perform surgeries on real patients. It also allows the students to revisit the surgeries from the perspective of the lead surgeon.
Traditionally, students had to participate in surgeries and often they would miss essential parts. Now, with the use of VR headsets, students can watch surgical procedures from the perspective of the lead surgeon without missing essential parts. Students can also pause, rewind, and fast forward surgeries. They also can perfect their techniques in a real-time simulation in a risk-free environment.
Besides for training purposes, augmented reality headsets are also already being used for image-guided surgery.
The virtual reality headset allows the military personnel to interact with virtual reality people to make it feel real. They can talk to one another and do varying actions to make the virtual reality world feel like they are actually in that situation. There are also disadvantages and advantages when military personnel use the headset. The disadvantage is the headset is made for an indoor area, with a cool environment, and away from any heat, so when military personnel has just the headset on, no military equipment, it is not like their basic training. The advantages consist of repeating the situations multiple times and the cost of having the headset is less, due to no military equipment being needed.
- Ben Kuchera (15 January 2016). "The complete guide to virtual reality in 2016 (so far)". Polygon. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Adi Robertson. "The ultimate VR headset buyer's guide". TheVerge.com. Vox Media. Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Stuart Miles (19 May 2015). "Forget head tracking on Oculus Rift, Fove VR headset can track your eyes". Pocket-lint. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Vinciguerra, Robert. "Tom Kalinske Talks About His Time Overseeing Sega As Its CEO In the 90s; Reveals That Sega Passed On Virtual Boy Technology, Considered Releasing 3DO". The Rev. Rob Times. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
- "Sega's Wonderful Simulation Games Over The Years". Arcade Heroes. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Sega Medium Scale Attractions Hardware (VR-1)". System 16. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- Nathan Cochrane (1994). "VFX-1 VIRTUAL REALITY HELMET by Forte". Game Bytes Magazine. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- "Oculus Rift virtual reality headset gets Kickstarter cash". BBC News. 1 August 2012. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
- Greg Kumparak (26 March 2014). "A Brief History Of Oculus". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Charles Onyett (3 August 2012). "The Future of Gaming in Virtual Reality". IGN. Archived from the original on 5 April 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Alex Wilhelm (22 November 2013). "Doom's John Carmack Leaves id Software To Focus On The Oculus Virtual Reality Headset". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 23 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Welch, Chris (25 March 2014). "Facebook buying Oculus VR for $2 billion". The Verge. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- "Oculus apologizes for shipping delays, will waive shipping fees for all orders to date". The Verge. Archived from the original on 22 July 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- Michael McWhertor (18 March 2014). "Sony announces Project Morpheus, a virtual reality headset coming to PlayStation 4". Polygon. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- Aaron Souppouris (15 September 2015). "Sony's Project Morpheus is now 'PlayStation VR'". Engadget. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Tom Warren (3 June 2014). "Valve's VR headset revealed with Oculus-like features". The Verge. Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Dante D'Orazio, Vlad Savov (1 March 2015). "Valve's VR headset is called the Vive and it's made by HTC". The Verge. Archived from the original on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2017.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Adi Robertson (8 December 2015). "HTC Vive VR headset delayed until April". The Verge. Archived from the original on 23 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- "PlayStation VR Launches October 2016". Sony. Archived from the original on 22 July 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
- "LG's G5 is a radical reinvention of the flagship Android smartphone". The Verge. Archived from the original on 22 February 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
- "IFA 2014: Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Note Edge, Gear VR and Gear S hands-on". GSMArena.com. Archived from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- "You Can Now Watch and Upload 360-Degree Videos on YouTube". Wired. Archived from the original on 9 July 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- "Best VR headsets to buy in 2016, whatever your budget". Pocket-lint. Archived from the original on 12 July 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- Bradshaw, Tim (30 April 2017). "Tencent poised to launch virtual reality headset". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 23 September 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- Marvin, By Rob; October 4, 2019 05:00am EST. "Oculus and PlayStation VR Jockey Atop the Virtual Reality Market". PCMAG.
- Ben Lang (24 February 2013). "John Carmack Talks Virtual Reality Latency Mitigation Strategies". Road to VR. Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
- "Virtual reality developers struggle with motion sickness". news.com.au. 21 March 2016. Archived from the original on 23 March 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- Kyle Orland (4 January 2013). "How fast does "virtual reality" have to be to look like "actual reality"?". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 23 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Eddie Makuch (13 November 2013). "Xbox One, PS4 "too limited" for Oculus Rift, says creator". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- Mason, Will (15 January 2016). "SMI's 250Hz Eye Tracking and Foveated Rendering Are For Real, and the Cost May Surprise You". UploadVR. Archived from the original on 13 January 2019. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
- Tricart, Celine (2018). Virtual Reality Filmmaking: Techniques & Best Practices for VR Filmmakers. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 12–14. ISBN 9781315280394.
- "Screen-Door Effect: PlayStationVR Supposedly Has "None", Probably Doesn't Matter". Talk Amongst Yourselves (Kinja). 27 March 2016. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
- Paul James (21 October 2013). "Intel Claims It Can Improve Image Quality for HMDs — Daniel Pohl Tells Us How". Road to VR. Archived from the original on 6 May 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
- Ben Lang (13 May 2015). "Wearality's 150 Degree Lenses Are a Balancing Act, Not a Breakthrough". Road to VR. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- Gu, Luo; Cheng, Dewen; Yongtian, Wang (21 May 2018). Kress, Bernard C; Stolle, Hagen; Osten, Wolfgang (eds.). "Design of an immersive head mounted display with coaxial catadioptric optics". Proceedings Volume 10676, Digital Optics for Immersive Displays: 133. doi:10.1117/12.2315687. ISBN 9781510618787. S2CID 126123242. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
The Fresnel lens has been commonly employed in the present VR lens due to its ability to realize the light weight and compact structure.
- Thompson, Sora (1 January 2018). "VR Lens Basics: Present And Future". Tom's Hardware. Purch. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
- Laffont, Pierre-Yves; Martin, Tobias; Gross, Martin; Tan, Wei De; Lim, CT; Au, Affa; Wong, Rick (5–8 December 2016). "Rectifeye: A Vision-Correcting System for Virtual Reality" (PDF). Macau. doi:10.1145/2996376.2996382. No. 13. Cite journal requires
|journal=(help) Quote: "our system automatically adjusts the VR headset according to the user's eyeglasses prescription. Since the optical correction is automatically embedded into the headset, the user no longer needs to wear eyeglasses inside the headset. [...] We adjust the position of each lens in the headset with servomotors".
- Bates-Brkljac, Nada (2012). Virtual Reality. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. p. 53. ISBN 9781614702467.
- "How VR is training the perfect soldier". Wareable. Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
- Wilson, Clay (9 April 2008). "Avatars, Virtual Reality Technology, and the U.S. Military: Emerging Policy Issues". CRS Report for Congress.