Virtual reality is all everyone’s talking about, 360° videos enchant our eyes day in and day out, and the latest VR glasses are starting to feel like a natural accessory. Welcome to the future!
The first spherical videos on YouTube got us excited. The goal was to let the viewer not only see the contents, but to experience them. Using a specialized camera, it became possible for the first time to record 360 degree videos which let us immerse ourselves into new worlds with the help of a smartphone or a computer mouse. An especially prominent example of this type of playback was a video Google released as an April 1 joke: SnoopaVision!
Many developers went to extra lengths to further improve this experience. One Kickstarter campaign caused a stir already quite a few years ago (it was 2012, to be exact). The device was called “Oculus Rift”, and it promised to bring virtual reality to the masses. The crowdfunding campaign’s goal was set at $250,000, but it ended up getting nearly $2.5 million to finance the project. The campaign’s success led the way for other start-ups.
Will this finally be the virtual reality breakthrough or will the hype disappear yet again, leaving the phenomenon in obscurity for years to come?
Just how does virtual reality work and how can it be used?
In theory, virtual reality is nothing more than our senses’ immersion into the virtual world. We lose our sense of reality, and feel as if we’re submerged into a foreign environment – the brain is tricked into thinking it is directly inside the video.
360-degree and VR videos are filmed using a special camera, which enable an exact recording of the environment. There are, however major differences in how such videos are played back. 360-degree videos can be viewed easily on a mobile or a desktop device, and control is exercised either through dragging the mouse or by moving the smartphone. Because this type of playback requires solely a screen, it is called monoscopic.However, to represent virtual worlds, special playback devices are required, including headsets and head-mounted displays. The devices block off the field of vision and create a separate perspective for each eye, creating a depth of field, which isn’t possible for 360-degree videos. This impression of depth in playback is called a stereoscopic effect.
Famous examples of this HMD are the abovementioned Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Google’s cardboard holder.
At this time, there are many applications for VR technology. Flight simulators have been successfully used to train pilots for years. Virtual reality is especially promoted within the video game industry. Thanks to precise tracking of the player within a room and through special visual representation using glasses, the user is provided with an unbelievable experience.
Vision becomes reality – the coolest 360° videos
1) Dunking with Isaac White? Vice Sports created this short 360° video with cool slow motion effects. Epic!
2) Are you scared of the paranormal? Then we advise you not to click play…
3) Holy moly! We’re being attacked! But getting destroyed never looked this good.
4) Swimming with sharks isn’t something for the faint of heart
5) Watch funny videos with Snoop Dogg – that’s SnoopaVision!
Alternatives and perspectives of what’s to come
In spite of all the praise and cries of excitement, let’s not forget that the technology is still in its infancy. PokemonGo demonstrated the potential behind the extended reality principle. Be it 360°, virtual or augmented reality – the issue will remain a hot topic for some time to come. We’re excited to see what the future will bring.
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