VR and Metaverse: Are We Living in Sci-Fi?

vr and metaverse
In: Metaverse Guide

If you’ve heard of virtual reality (VR) before, chances are it was in the context of the metaverse. This is because the subjects are so intertwined that understanding one necessitates understanding the other. 

So, what exactly is the metaverse?

Because it is still in active development, definitions can be complex. However, the metaverse can be viewed as a link or merger between the online and physical worlds. 

It is a shared virtual universe that you can explore with others rather than a single program. It is available in VR as an immersive 3D environment. However, you can approach it differently by utilizing augmented reality and other interfaces. Even laptops and game consoles can connect to the metaverse.

The metaverse is truly vast in its scope. It’s basically limitless, with no fundamental restrictions on where you can go. You can even create and share your creations within it. Developers are also expanding the metaverse infrastructure in novel ways. So let’s dive into the topic!

What Exactly Is Extended Reality?

The metaverse relies heavily on extended reality (XR) technologies rather than just virtual reality. XR is an umbrella term for combined human-machine interface environments. It essentially refers to anything that superimposes one type of reality on top of another.

Extended reality can alter or even replace traditional sensory input such as sight or touch. The extended reality application scenarios are genuinely breathtaking. It includes everything from home gaming to assisting surgeons in hospitals. 

What Exactly Is Virtual Reality?

What distinguishes virtual reality from other types of extended reality? Immersion is one of VR’s most distinguishing characteristics. Today’s VR headsets completely obscure your vision. 

The device’s detailed screens replace what you usually see when looking around with computer-generated environments. The ability to alter what your eyes see allows for an infinite number of application scenarios. Views from distant locations can be fed in via telecommunications.

You can also play the role of a character in a video game. You may even be able to learn how to complete complex tasks in the real world. 

Surgeons, in particular, have benefited from the ability to practice their trade virtually. Athletes are also using virtual reality to improve their performance. Interestingly, Sensorama systems imply that virtual reality has developed since the 1950s. Motion and smell were integrated into movies to improve immersion.

Virtual Reality Varieties

What is it like to be a physical being? It’s a simple question, but it isn’t easy to condense the entire physical world into a single phrase or description. The same can be said for virtual reality. The following umbrella terms, however, cover the most common types of VR.

Non-Immersive

Immersion is typically the focus of virtual reality. However, there are some instances where the opposite occurs. Non-immersive VR typically refers to a system that displays digital environments on a computer monitor rather than a headset. 

Users can, by definition, only interact with the digital environment indirectly. For example, non-immersive systems include websites that allow you to design a room’s decor. The same holds true for non-interactive video games.

Semi-Immersive

A semi-immersive VR environment falls somewhere in the middle of the other two. Semi-immersive virtual reality can be accessed via monitors or VR headsets. Within the simulation, users will typically have some control over their surroundings. 

The nature of those interactions, however, is usually quite limited. In other words, the experience can be described as “on rails.” In semi-immersive VR, you have a lot of control over a train. However, you would be unable to exit the train.

Fully-Immersive

Most people envision this when they hear the term “virtual reality.” Fully immersive VR uses multiple senses to fully immerse users in the experience of a new reality. This includes visual, auditory, and possibly tactile feedback. Each sense is stimulated with appropriate equipment. 

Headsets, gloves, and goggles are examples of such items. Users of fully immersive systems may even be able to feel the different ground beneath their feet by using special treadmills or stationary bikes.

What Is the Distinction Between Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality?

You may be wondering what distinguishes the various forms of extended reality. While XR technology tends to overlap, certain characteristics can roughly define each type. Typically, virtual reality obscures the physical world. Non-immersive VR is the sole exception. However, those usage scenarios are relatively uncommon in the larger context of VR.

Augmented reality augments rather than replaces a user’s vision of his surroundings. AR superimposes digital data on top of the physical world, similar to video game heads-up display (HUD). Mixed reality (MR) expands on this by fusing digital and physical spaces via hologram-like projects.

Virtual Reality Components

At this point, it should be clear that a fully immersive virtual reality experience requires a significant investment. To enter a new digital universe, you’ll need some truly cutting-edge hardware and software. While there are numerous VR components, these are the most important.

Hardware Components for Virtual Reality

Virtual reality hardware components can be thought of as a type of accelerator. It is what elevates VR creations beyond mere software or networking components and into a truly immersive environment. These are the primary elements that metaverse companies emphasize in order to provide such a fantastic experience.

Devices for Input

Input devices allow you to interact with the virtual world. It’s one of the reasons why the larger-scale metaverse meaning is so reliant on interactivity. You are communicating with the system about your ultimate goal when you use input devices. In turn, the system will simulate the outcome of any action as if you were physically present. 

Tracking, point input, biocontrollers, and voice devices are examples of input technology. Tracking monitors user positioning using gyroscopic, ultrasonic, or other sensors. Point-input devices, on the other hand, are more akin to special mice or force balls. Input for voice control is provided by your voice.

Engine for Virtual Reality

A VR engine is one of virtual reality’s most complex software-based components. VR’s underlying nature is essentially made up of numbers and code. The VR engine translates all of those numerical elements into something that looks startlingly similar to the physical world. 

VR engines must recalculate a virtual environment every 33 milliseconds while maintaining framerates of more than 24 frames per second. When done correctly, the atmosphere feels so real that metaverse brands can frequently sell merch online that is identical to what is found offline. However, maintaining that level of clarity is a difficult task for both hardware and software.

Devices for Output

You could mistake the VR engine for an output device. However, the VR engine is software that requires data to be passed to a screen or other hardware-based device. Different virtual reality output devices correspond to different senses. 

A VR headset, for example, stimulates the user’s sense of sight. Audio (aural) is used by speakers, and many controllers use haptic (force) for touch. Smell and taste devices are also being developed. Priority is given to vision. HMDs and stereo display monitors are also popular choices. HMD provides two distinct views that your brain interprets as a single three-dimensional environment.

In VR, how do I interact?

Let us see how you can interact with Virtual Reality. 

Virtual Reality Controllers

Almost every ordinary VR headset has its own VR controllers tailored to the tracking system. They simulate finger, hand, and arm movements and allow users to interact with Virtual Reality by pressing a button or using analog sticks or touchpads.

Sony’s “Move” motion controllers for PlayStation VR rely on light balls detected by the PlayStation Camera. Because purely optical tracking via the camera is easily disrupted, and Sony only uses one relatively low-resolution camera, the tracking is quite error-prone. As a result, PS VR does not provide true 360-degree experiences with spatial movement. Nonetheless, Move aims to display the user’s hands in VR.

On the other hand, the Move controllers will no longer be used in the already announced PS VR successor. Sony’s Playstation VR 2 Sense controllers will support infrared tracking.

At least four cameras integrated into the VR headset reliably detect the Meta Touch controllers. Other sensors in the controller detect movement as well as whether the index or thumb is resting. This allows for basic interaction via gestures.

Index controllers from Valve go a step further. They detect not only the position and curvature of the fingers but also how hard you squeeze. As a result, VR conveys an authentic, gripping sensation, and hand interaction is almost as possible as with a glove. 

Third-party developers are also working on VR controllers with various specialized functions. For example, the XR controller Etee with finger tracking was released in March 2020. A touch surface replaces traditional push buttons.

VR movement is controlled with your feet using the 3D Rudder or Cybershoes. Microsoft researchers are experimenting with a VR controller that simulates physical forces via a lever. There are numerous other examples.

Gloves for Virtual Reality

There are also some data and VR glove prototypes, such as the Senseglove Nova, HaptX Glove DK2, and Manus. Meta recently debuted new haptic gloves, and Apple recently patented a tracking glove for VR and AR. Both businesses want to use a newly developed synthetic material.

However, purchasing them makes no sense for private users because the price is high, and there are no good applications. The devices are primarily intended for commercial use.

Hand Tracking in Virtual Reality

Unlike VR gloves, optical hand tracking is already reasonably effective. As hand tracking for Meta Quest 2 demonstrates, using your own hands in VR could become the norm.

Brain-Computer Interface / Mind Control

However, in the future, VR control could go much further. You can control VR games with brain signals using Nextmind VR accessories. Valve is also researching brain-computer interfaces for gaming and virtual reality. Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve, believes that we will be able to manipulate our brains using external impulses in the future.

CTRL-Labs, a startup, is working on an AI that can match electrical brain signals to appropriate computer commands. Facebook/Meta announced the acquisition of CTRL-Labs and the integration of mind control into future VR and AR systems. According to reports, Facebook/Meta paid around $1 billion for the acquisition.

Treadmills in Virtual Reality and Guns

Consider how much of a workout you can get from the treadmills at the gym. Imagine taking that kind of workout with you to any environment on the planet, from trail running in national forests to jumping from boulder to boulder while hiking through the mountains. 

That is the premise of virtual reality treadmills. They allow you to really push yourself in VR. However, unlike traditional treadmills, they allow you to move freely. You can move around in various virtual reality environments in 360 degrees.

A VR gun can make this concept even more enjoyable. Consider entering your favorite first-person shooter with the ability to physically run and shoot enemies. However, there are more serious applications. VR guns and treadmills, for example, are ideal for military training. It’s all about using technology to overcome physical limitations.

Usage of VR in Various Industries

It is obvious that VR can be used in a variety of ways. In fact, the versatility of virtual reality options is a good match for the sheer variety of options available in physical reality. This essentially means that you can use virtual reality for almost anything. Indeed, many different industries are utilizing VR for their own specific needs. 

VR in Gaming Industry 

VR and gaming complement each other perfectly. And virtual reality is one of the most popular gaming topics for a good reason. The growing capabilities of virtual reality quickly drew the attention of gamers. 

Most popular gaming platforms now support VR in one or more ways. Some companies, such as Valve, have even created their own VR headsets. There’s no denying that virtual reality has significantly impacted gaming as a whole. 

And it’s one of the industries where the rise of virtual reality is most visible. That support is only growing. What virtual reality games and experiences should I start with?

We recommend beginning with VR slowly. Every person reacts differently to VR, and not every VR app is suitable for every stomach (for more information, see the section “Motion Sickness: Will I Get Sick in VR?” further down in this article). However, VR is definitely accessible to all; you just need to find the right apps.

We recommend starting with simple apps like TheBlu, The Lab, or Waltz of the Wizard. These are entry-level scenarios that best demonstrate VR’s potential.

Following that, we suggest games that can be played while sitting down and do not require a first-person perspective. Moss (review), Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Down The Rabbit Hole, or strategy games like Skyworld, Eternal Starlight, Brass Tactics, or the VR co-op role-playing game Demeo are excellent examples. You won’t get sick here, either: the game character is moving, not you.

If you’re comfortable with virtual reality, try first-person shooters like Superhot VR or multiplayer kitchen games like Cook-Out. We also recommend the rhythm game Beat Saber, which has no risk of causing an upset stomach. You can’t get sick here because real and virtual movements always coincide.

When playing games that require you to navigate through environments, make sure to use teleportation for movement and snap-turning (i.e., changing the line of sight by a certain number of degrees at the press of a button). For example, in Half-Life: Alyx, the flagship VR title, this works best. If your stomach doesn’t revolt, try switching to fluid motion in the same game after a while and seeing how you feel.

Another option, if you enjoy racing games, would be Dirt Rally or Project Cars 3. If you prefer flying with the Force, you should look into Star Wars: Squadrons. The cockpit of the car or spaceship provides a fixed reference point for the eye, which reduces the likelihood of VR nausea. This feature is available in all VR games with a cockpit perspective.

If you notice that you cannot tolerate a particular type of VR game, do not try to force it. Some people can gradually become accustomed to VR experiences that cause discomfort through frequent short sessions. The important thing is to stop immediately when discomfort arises and not resume until you are completely fine.

Recommendations for the Best VR Games

There is a VR game for everyone, whether you want to dive into Virtual Reality on a PC, with Playstation VR, or with standalone VR headsets. For beginners, we’ve compiled a list of the best accessible VR games that will provide you with great VR experiences with minimal effort.

From the fun life simulation Vacation Simulator to the expansive VR role-playing game Asgard’s Wrath or the physically intense rogue-lite Until You Fall, Quest owners have a good selection of high-quality titles in a variety of genres. Some of them are even exclusive to VR.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (review) and the VR adaptation of the horror film The Exorcist will provide hardcore horror fans with their money’s worth on PS VR.

VR ports of well-known games such as Skyrim VR, Fallout 4 VR, and Borderlands 2 are available, as are VR-exclusive productions. In Hitman 3 VR, VR players can take on the role of the legendary hitman Agent 47, while Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond revives a classic shooter in VR. Finally, the blockbuster Half-Life: Alyx and the series adaptation The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners demonstrate VR’s concentrated power.

If you prefer to meet up with friends in VR, try the wildly popular Rec Room or Meta’s Metaverse venture Meta Horizon. Meanwhile, there are multiplayer games available on various platforms that you can play with your friends.

VR in Healthcare

Extended and virtual reality is being used by healthcare workers to hone skills and treatment options in a risk-free environment. Surgeons, for example, can practice in VR indefinitely. 

But the virtual reality in healthcare isn’t just for doctors and nurses. Patients can benefit from virtual reality as well. Consider the advantages of receiving professional guidance while undergoing home-based physical therapy. 

Alternatively, you could have a therapist guide you through VR sessions designed to combat your deepest phobias. VR has been beneficial to the healthcare industry as a whole. 

However, it is required for psychology, physiology, ENT, neurosurgery, and cardiology.

VR in Military

Military personnel, like surgeons, frequently need to hone skills that will be used in life-or-death situations. Similarly, the military employs virtual reality to simulate those conditions in a safe setting. 

Virtual reality allows people to practice combat tactics and deployment in almost any scenario. This can range from enemy territory to difficult environments such as jungles or deserts. VR can also simulate complex military vehicles to teach people how to make the most of them. Virtual reality could simulate anything from submarine controls to tank equipment.

Immersion is the key to virtual reality education. And teachers understand the importance of an immersive learning environment for student success. VR can fully engage the left and right hemispheres when presenting the information. This means that students can engage both their logical and emotional or creative learning skills at the same time. 

Holistic learning is a more formal term for this type of education. Educational institutions are also using VR to simulate dangerous situations, such as earthquakes or tornadoes, without putting their students in danger. VR benefits both students’ education and their overall safety.

VR in Retail

Few industries are as crucial to the economy as retail. It is how products reach the general public. And virtual reality is assisting retailers in designing, implementing, and even researching their best strategies for serving the public. 

One of the most important benefits of VR is the enhancement of overall aesthetics. By creating an interactive and dynamic shopping cart experience, VR can make shopping a lot more enjoyable. IKEA stores, for example, have implemented a virtual reality kitchen system. People can use virtual reality to explore a fully stocked kitchen before deciding if anything would suit their own culinary needs.

Marketing Marketing, of course, goes hand in hand with retail. Virtual reality has also been beneficial to marketing. Because metaverse crypto is global, businesses can market to people in every country. And brands can easily demonstrate what their products are capable of. 

This can take the form of complete user engagement. Merrell, for example, created a VR experience in which people could hike up a mountainside while wearing their hiking shoes. In addition, the film Interstellar had a VR experience where people could fly the iconic spaceship from the film.

VR in Sports

Millions of people watch football, racing, tennis, and other sports on a regular basis. And a large number of them attend special events as spectators. They, too, want to go but cannot do so due to various factors. 

However, virtual reality now allows fans to immerse themselves in action. You can watch matches in VR, and it’s almost as if you’re there, thanks to 360° cameras broadcasting the action. VR is also beneficial to athletes. They can train in a variety of different environments. They can even train from afar!

VR in Tourism

“Try before you buy” is a valuable concept in many fields. However, until recently, it was simply not possible for industries such as tourism. That notion has been turned on its head by virtual reality. Many tourism industries have begun to incorporate virtual reality into their business plans. 

For the first time, you can get a taste of what it’s like to take a vacation to a remote location without ever leaving your house. For example, you could put on a headset and explore beaches at different times of the year. Or marvel at the wonder of watching the clouds pass by.

VR in Architecture

One of the most difficult aspects of architectural work is communication. It’s not always easy to show a client what the project will look like when finished. 

It is simple for architects to mentally transform ideas on a blueprint into perfect mental representations, but not for clients. 

However, virtual reality can bring clients to view the finished building in a virtual environment. Interiors, on the other hand, are highly compatible with VR. Remodeling becomes a breeze when you can lay out new furniture and styles in a digital space.

Will I Get Motion Sickness in VR?

Motion sickness is and will continue to be a major issue in Virtual Reality. Researchers are constantly looking for new ways to combat stomach rumblings. They have recently investigated diving as a possible cure for VR nausea or chewing gum as the ultimate enemy of motion sickness in VR.

Every VR user reacts differently to three-dimensional movement. It is up to you whether you get sick while playing games or engaging in other VR experiences.

Motion sickness occurs when the eye sees something that the inner ear does not. As a result, many different movement options, such as teleportation, are frequently available in VR games.

According to Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida, players grow accustomed to VR nausea. A gentle start with less intense games should also be beneficial. We’ve outlined how to do this in the section above titled “Which VR games and experiences should I start with?” Occasional breaks are advised during longer VR sessions. First and foremost, if you begin to feel ill or dizzy, you should stop immediately.

Once you’ve gotten used to well-tolerated VR (a 360-degree diorama, stationary wave shooters, and so on), you can try to get used to fluid motion, such as from a first-person perspective, by doing short, regular sessions. In any case, avoid attempting to force your VR luck.

Developers can also help with motion sickness prevention. A good VR experience requires a fast, stable frame rate, high resolution, and low latency. For example, wild angle changes or moving camera movements without the player’s input are not recommended.

A first-person camera rotation that does not correspond to the player’s head movement can be a particular sin for developers: It feels like having your head turned around in VR, depending on the speed and surprise effect.

In the blink of an eye, virtual reality has transitioned from science fiction to science fact. And you now have everything you need to master VR. It would be best if you simply decided which VR options are most appealing to you.

Ready to Grow Your Business?

We Serve our Clients’ Best Interests with the Best Marketing Solutions. Find out More

How Can We Help You?

Need to bounce off ideas for an upcoming project or digital campaign? Looking to transform your business with the implementation of full potential digital marketing?

For any career inquiries, please visit our careers page here.