Virtual reality (VR): technology, financial prospects

Virtual reality (VR)


Virtual reality technology has appeared recently, and terminology has not yet been established (more on this is stated in the article “Augmented, virtual and other realities”). Wikipedia gives the following definition.

Virtual reality (VR, virtual reality, VR, artificial reality) — created the technical means of the world passed to the person through his feelings: sight, hearing, touch and other. Virtual reality simulates how the impact and response. To create convincing complex of sensations of reality computer synthesis of properties and reactions of virtual reality is made in real time.

Don’t confuse virtual reality with augmented. The fundamental difference is that the virtual constructs a new artificial world, augmented reality only makes the individual artificial elements in the perception of the real world.

The virtual reality systems are devices that are more fully compared to conventional computer systems mimic the interaction with the virtual environment by acting on all five available human senses.

Such systems in full not yet there, but on the creation of virtual reality developers try to ensure that it was:

• believable — supported the user a sense of reality

• interactive — provide the interaction with the environment

• available for the study was provided the opportunity to explore a large, detailed world

• immersive — involved in the process as the brain and the body, affecting the maximum possible number of senses

Obviously, achieving these goals is possible only when using high-performance hardware and software.

Types of virtual reality

At this stage of development of VR technologies, among them we can distinguish the following types.

VR technology with immersive, providing a plausible simulation of the virtual world with a high degree of detail. Needed to implement a high-performance computer that can recognize user actions and to react to them in real time, and special equipment that ensures an immersive experience.

VR technology without immersion. These include the simulation with picture, sound, and controllers, broadcast to the screen, preferably widescreen. Such systems are referred to virtual reality, because the degree of impact on the viewer, they are far superior to other media, although not implement fully the requirements of VR.

VR technology with a joint infrastructure. These include Second Life — a three-dimensional virtual world with elements of social network, which has over one million active users, Minecraft and others. Such worlds do not provide full immersion (however, there is already a Minecraft version for virtual reality-enabled helmets Oculus Rift and Gear VR). But in virtual worlds are well organized interaction with other users, which is often lacking products of the “real” virtual reality.
Virtual worlds are used not only in the gaming industry: thanks to things like 3D Immersive Collaboration, you can organize your work and educational 3D space — this is called a “joint work with presence effect”. Ensuring the full immersion and at the same time, user interaction in the virtuality is one of the important directions of development of VR.

VR on the basis of Internet technologies. These include first of all the language Virtual Reality Markup Language similar to HTML. Now this technology is obsolete, but it is not excluded that in the future virtual reality will be created including using Internet technologies.1,2

How does the VR technology

The most common means of immersion in virtual reality are specialized helmets/goggles. In front of the eyes of the user will display video in 3D. Attached to the body of the gyroscope and accelerometer to track head rotations and transmit data in a computing system that changes the display depending on the sensor readings. In the end, the user has the ability to “look around” inside a virtual reality and to feel myself like in the real world.

For a more realistic immersion in the world of virtual reality in addition to sensors that monitor the position of the head, the VR can be used a tracking system that tracks movements of the pupils of the eyes and allowing to determine where one looks at each moment of time, as well as tracking the movements of a person with intent to repeat them in the virtual world. Such tracking may be performed by using special sensors or cameras.

To interact with the virtual reality of the traditional 2D controllers (mouse, joystick, etc.) is not enough, so they are replaced by 3D controllers (positioners, allowing to work in three-dimensional space).

The feedback is designed to ensure that the user could still fully experience everything that happens in the virtual world. As such devices can be used vibrating joysticks, swivel chairs, etc. 3

Devices and components VR

It is believed that 80% of the information a person receives through sight. Therefore, the developers of VR systems pay great attention to devices for formation of images. Typically, they are complementary devices stereo sound, works on tactile stimulation, and even simulate the smells. The impact on taste buds not yet reported.


A virtual reality helmet
Modern virtual reality helmets (HMD-display, head-mounted display, videosim) contain one or multiple displays, which display images for the left and right eyes, the lens system for adjusting the geometry of the image, and a tracking system that tracks the device’s orientation in space. In appearance, they now look like glasses, so they increasingly referred to VR headsets (VR headset), or simply virtual reality glasses. They can be divided into three groups:

  1. Glasses, in which the processing and the image output provides a smartphone (Android, iPhone, Windows Phone). A modern smartphone is a powerful device, able to process three-dimensional images. Displays smartphones have a high enough resolution. Almost every smartphone is equipped with sensors to determine the position of the device in space.
  2. Glasses, in which the image processing is supplied from the external device (PC, Xbox, PlayStation, etc.). The external device must be highly productive, and the glasses equipped with position sensors.
  3. Autonomous virtual reality glasses (Lenovo Mirage Solo, with Google, Facebook Quest from Oculus, Samsung Gear VR, etc.) 4

Hats are the main component of VR with full immersion, because it does not only provide three-dimensional image and stereo sound, but also partially isolate the user from surrounding reality.

MotionParallax3D displays

Such displays employ the inherent human mechanism of perception of the volume of parallax (motion parallax). To do this, in each moment of time for the viewer, based on its position relative to the screen, is generated corresponding to the projection of the three-dimensional object. Moving around the scene, the user can inspect it from all sides, all scene objects will move relative to each other.

The parallax effect greatly enhances the perception of volume. Unlike 3D cinema and 3D TV’s that use only a binocular vision, the MotionParallax3D technology allows the user to view a 3D scene from all sides, as if all its objects were real. The offset of the viewer relative to the screen, violating the volume effect in 3D movies, the system MotionParallax3D effect only increases.

System that uses the mechanism of parallax, have to catch the tiniest movements of the user’s head and track them with high speed and precision to the brain is not fixed distortions of the geometry of the object caused by the lag image.5, the Delay should not exceed 20ms, for interactive games — no more than 11 MS.6

These devices provide, as a rule, partial immersion, as reproduced on the displays and do not isolate the user from the environment. Exception — virtual reality room (CAVE, cave automatic virtual environment). In such rooms on each wall is projected stereoscopic image calculated for a specific point in which the user is located. In the end, this image surrounds us on all sides, puts it in himself. Some experts believe that 7 VR-room is much better than the VR helmets: provide a higher resolution, there is no need to put on a bulky head device, in which some even swayed, and identity is easier due to the fact that the user has the opportunity constantly to see yourself.


Multi-channel speaker system allows you to localize source of sound, so that the user can navigate in the virtual world through hearing.

Tactile and other sensations

Gloves virtual reality (information gloves, datagloves)

These gloves are equipped with sensors that allow you to track the movement of hands and fingers. Technically this can be implemented in different ways: using fiber-optic cables strain-gauge or piezoelectric sensors as well as Electromechanical devices (such as potentiometers).8 for Example, scientists from the companies EPFL and ETH Zurich have developed an ultra-lightweight gloves (weighing less than 8 grams on each finger and with a thickness of only 2 mm). They provide an “extremely realistic haptic feedback and can be powered by batteries, which provides unprecedented freedom of movement”.9

Suit virtual reality

This suit needs to track the change of the position of the user’s body and transmit tactile, temperature and vibration sensation, and in combination with the helmet — visual and auditory.10

The smells and taste sensations

The synthesis of odors have been conducted for more than one year,11 but before the wide use of the results obtained is still far. On any significant advances in the transfer of taste sensations to say is not necessary.

Device management

To interact with the virtual environment using special joysticks (gamepads, wands), containing built-in sensors of position and movement, as well as buttons and scroll wheel as mouse. Now these joysticks are increasingly making wireless.2

As control devices can also be used the above-mentioned information gloves and suits virtual reality.

Problems of unification

As is usually the case when introducing new technologies, each of the major suppliers, released on promising market, seeks to promote just your products, to extend its technical solutions. Accordingly, leading companies releasing VR headsets, develop, or book content for them. The driving force of the VR market at the moment are virtual games, primarily based on the gamers, and was released headset Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR with HTC Vive, PlayStation VR 12 etc.

Games and other content designed for one headset will not play on another. Gamers can not wait, when there will be a porting of games between different sets of developers. Industrialists, advertisers and representatives of many other industries will introduce VR, knowing that expensive equipment will not have to change due to the fact that the new, extremely attractive was designed for other points-gloves-costumes virtual reality.

VR providers understand that the good cooperation between them can bring virtual reality to a new level. So in December of 2016 was created by the global Association of virtual reality (GVRA) is a non — profit organization of manufacturers of helmets of a virtual reality (VR), designed to combine the efforts of companies in the development of this direction. In its creation took part company Starbreeze Acer, Google, HTC, VIVE, Oculus, Samsung and Sony Interactive Entertainment.

According to the site GVRA,13 the main objective of the Association is to contribute to global growth and development of the VR industry. It is planned to establish working groups to conduct research and formulate recommendations on the most important industry topics. Eventually these groups will develop best practices and openly share them.

However, as of October 2018, i.e. almost two years after the creation of the GVRA, the only material that appeared on the Association’s website, was the report “Research of virtual reality and its potential for Europe”, covering the period from 2016 to 2017.14 Apparently, the achievement of global agreements between large companies — a task no less difficult than developing the actual VR technology.

However, the unification of the equipment continues.

So, on 17 July 2017, NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD and Microsoft released a specification VirtualLink™ is an open industry standard that VR headsets will allow the next generation to connect to PCs and other devices using only one high-speed USB cable Type-C (instead of multiple cords and connectors are currently used). It is noted that VirtualLink specifically created for VR. It provides the optimal latency and bandwidth, enabling manufacturers of helmets and the PC to create a virtual reality of new generation.15
Of course, the problem of unification in some way or other still to be solved, as has happened with other technologies, the main thing — to happen in the coming years.

Virtual reality in industry

Examples of different applications of VR technology in industry is given in the article “Virtual reality (VR): best practices”.

Financial Outlook

The attitude to virtual reality among investors is mixed. On the one hand, a VR helmet that you can buy in any electronics store. Only Sony with the end of 2016, sold 1.5 million PlayStation VR headset for its console. Thousands of companies are creating relevant content. However, with the withdrawal of VR technology to the commercial market the developers of the first wave, apparently, premature. As a result, users not only did not receive the promised effect of full immersion, but, faced with the imperfection of the technology, was disappointed in her. The mass distribution of VR/AR inhibit, firstly, the low quality of the VR content, and secondly, fragmented platforms and lack of unified standards when it is created, third, the absence of a clear system of distribution, unified platform, dedicated to the related products.

Accordingly behaves the market. In the first quarter of 2018, worldwide shipments of virtual reality headsets has increased by 16% in the annual comparison, according to experts from Canalys.16 But in the second calendar quarter of this year, according to IDC, shipments decreased by 33.7%. However, analysts believe that the current situation is temporary. The emergence of new products, especially Oculus Go and HTC Vive Pro, as well as new brands, need to return to the market in a positive direction.17

Analytics companies Gartner and IDC claim that VR/AR are approaching the stage of technological maturity. That is, very soon virtual reality will become a part of everyday life. Technologically, everything is ready for mass use.11




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