"I'm not crazy. My reality is just different from yours."
– The Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland
What is Virtual Reality (“VR“)?
The concept of VR today has become near-synonymous with the odd scuba-mask looking headsets, or visors, that completely cover your eyes in order to present a view onto an alternative digital reality projected inside the headset.
There are a variety of visors on the market today, and ongoing R&D development continues to reduce their size and improve their performance.
While different headsets may feature different specifications and offer varying levels of fidelity and computing power, every VR headset principally works as described in the diagram below.
Anatomy of a VR Visor
1. A camera or sensor tracks the position and angle of the visor, communicating this data to the computer. As the user turns their head, the data coordinates change correspondingly.
2. The computer, either located inside the visor or nearby, receives the coordinates and calculates what view the user should see inside the virtual environment.
3. Two high definition screens inside the visor display the images provided by the computer at a very rapid rate (from 60 – 120 frames per second). Each image is slightly different to account for the distance between the user’s eyes, which is necessary for the perception of depth.
4. A precision lens converts the images of the two screens to each eye of the user. The distance of this lens and width of the two screens is often adjustable to accommodate differences in vision and cranial builds.
5. The user receives a distinct image to each eye, creating a stereoscopic illusion of three-dimensionality.
As the user physically moves, the image shifts correspondingly in the virtual environment providing a sense of physical presence in the digital space.