You will probably never go to Mars, swim with Sharks, run with Leopard, or sing with One Republic. But if virtual reality lives up to its promise, you might be able to do all these things—and many more—without even leaving your home. Unlike real reality (the actual world in which we live), virtual reality means simulating bits of our world (or completely imaginary worlds) using high-performance computers and sensory equipment, like headsets and gloves. Apart from games and entertainment, it's long been used for training airline pilots and surgeons and for helping scientists to figure out complex problems such as the structure of protein molecules. Curious to learn more? Let's take a closer look.
Virtual reality (VR) means experiencing things through our computers that don't really exist. From that simple definition, the idea doesn't sound especially new. When you look at an amazing Canaletto painting, for example, you're experiencing the sites and sounds of Italy as it was about 250 years ago—so that's a kind of virtual reality. In the same way, if you listen to ambient instrumental or classical music with your eyes closed, and start dreaming about things, isn't that an example of virtual reality—an experience of a world that doesn't really exist? What about losing yourself in a book or a movie? Surely that's a kind of virtual reality?
If we're going to understand why books, movies, paintings, and pieces of music aren't the same thing as virtual reality, we need to define VR fairly clearly. For the purposes of this simple, introductory article, I'm going to define it as:
A believable, interactive 3D computer-created world that you can explore so you feel you really are there, both mentally and physically.
Excited? Want to experience virtual reality? You can do it using Google Cardboard.
Google Cardboard is a fun and affordable way to experience virtual reality using any Android or iOS smartphone.
Enough of talking! Let's experience it in real. Once you have a cardboard, jump to the following link to get the apps and start exploring.