Types Of Virtual Reality

In our previous article [source], we had discussed the basics of Virtual Reality and History of VR Technology. To understand the types of Virtual Reality, I recommend going through our previous article so that you can understand the types of VR Technology easily.

In this article “Virtual Reality Types”, we will discuss different types of Virtual Reality Technology.

Virtual Reality: In A Nutshell

Before starting the topic lets put a light on virtual reality first.

Virtual Reality commonly known as VR is a computer simulation (assumption of false appearance) of a true or unreal system, that permits a user to perform operations on the simulated system and shows the results in real-time.

It’s exhausting to believe virtual reality has been around since 1968 and has gone through several booms and busts as technology advanced over the last fifty years. The idea of virtual reality has been knocking around since the Fifties. For instance Morton Heilig — referred as ‘the Father of Virtual Reality’ — was an American photographer who developed the Sensorama. For the Nineteen Sixties, the Sensorama was a single-user recreation console that brought together a variety of sensory outputs; specifically stereoscopic display, stereo speakers, odor emitters, fans, and a vibrating chair.

“Virtual reality can be defined as a three-dimensional, computer-generated simulation in which one can navigate around, interact with, and be immersed in another environment. Virtual reality provides a reality that mimics our everyday one. “

(Source: John C. Briggs, The Promise of Virtual Reality., Vol. 30, The Futurist, 09-01-1996)

To know more about Virtual Reality from the basics you may consider our previous article, “What is Virtual Reality?” We had already explained virtual reality and it’s history in our previous article, you may click here to read it.

Virtual Reality Types | Detailed View

There is over one kind of virtual reality. Moreover, there’s a distinct schema for classifying numerous varieties of virtual reality.

Types Of Virtual Reality: According to Jacobson

According to Jacobson, there are 4 types of Virtual Reality.

  1. Immersive Virtual Reality
  2. Desktop Virtual Reality (low-cost home brew Virtual Reality)
  3. Projection Virtual Reality
  4. Simulation Virtual Reality

Types Of V R: Three Dimensional Classification

On the basis of several dimensions, Thurman and Mattoon (1994) presented a model for differentiating different types of VR systems. This differentiation was based on how closely the application corresponds to physical reality. They had also proposed a scale showing the dimensional varieties of Virtual Reality. [see fig VRT 1.1 below]

VR type differentiating model by Thurman & Matton

In the above diagram we can that there are two points, Start point & End Point which has physical dimension and abstract dimension on the ends. These dimensions, physical and abstract describes the degree that a VR and entities within the virtual environment have the characteristics of reality.

In the starting end (Physical dimensional point) VRs simulate or mimic real-world counterparts which correspond to natural laws. However, on the endpoint or abstract dimensional side VRs represent abstract ideas that are completely novel and may not even resemble the real world.

Thurman and Mattoon also identified an “integration dimension” that focuses on how humans are integrated into the computer system.

This Integration Dimension includes a scale, which has three categories, batch processing, shared control, and total inclusion. These categories are based on three broad eras of human-computer integration, culminating with VR total inclusion. The third dimension of this model is the interface, on a scale ranging between natural and artificial.

The above three dimensions are combined to form a three-dimensional classification scheme for virtual reality.

Types Of Virtual Reality: by Brill (1993; 1994)

Another classification model was developed by Brill. Brill’s model features seven different types of virtual reality which are:-

  1. Immersive first-person Virtual Reality
  2. Through the window Virtual Reality
  3. Mirror world Virtual Reality
  4. Waldo World Virtual Reality
  5. Chamber world Virtual Reality
  6. Cab simulator environment Virtual Reality
  7. Cyberspace Virtual Reality

As we can see that Brill has categorized Virtual Reality in 7 different categories. Some are physically immersive and some are not. The key feature of all virtual reality systems is that they provide an environment created by the computer or other media where the user feels present, that is, immersed physically, perceptually, and psychologically.  

Virtual reality systems enable users to become participants in artificial spaces created by the computer. It is important to note that not all virtual worlds are three-dimensional, however, this is not necessary to provide an enriching experience.

1. Immersive first-person Virtual Reality

When we think of virtual reality, we think of immersive systems involving computer interface devices such as a head-mounted display (HMD), fiber-optic wired gloves, position tracking devices, and audio systems providing 3-D (binaural) sound. Immersive virtual reality provides an immediate, first-person experience.

2. Through the window Virtual Reality ( Desktop VR )

Through the window, virtual reality systems are also known as Desktop VR systems. In this kind of VR systems, the user sees the 3-D world through the ‘window’ of the computer screen and navigates through space with a control device such as a mouse. Like immersive virtual reality, this provides a first-person experience. A similar, less expensive and less sophisticated program that is starting to find use in elementary and secondary schools is Virtus VR (Law, 1994; Pantelidis, nd)

3. Mirror World Virtual Reality (Projected Reality)

This virtual reality provides a second-person experience in which the viewer stands outside the imaginary world, however, communicates with characters or objects inside it. In other words, Mirror world systems use a video camera as an input device. The viewer sees their images superimposed on or merged with a virtual world presented on a large video monitor or video projected image. Below are the examples of mirror world virtual reality system:-

  1. Myron Krueger’s ‘artificial reality’ systems such as VIDEO PLACE
  2. Mandala system from the Vivid Group, created by a group of performance artists in Toronto.
  3. InView system which has provided the basis for developing entertainment applications for children, including a TV game show.
  4. Meta Media’s wall-sized screen applications such as shooting basketball hoops and experiencing what happens when you try to throw a ball under zero gravity conditions (Brill, 1995; O’Donnell, 1994; Wagner, 1994)

4. Waldo World Virtual Reality

In this kind of virtual reality, the appliance could be a form of digital puppetry involving real-time pc animation. The name “Waldo” is drawn from a science fiction story by Robert Heinlein (1965). carrying an electronic mask or body armor equipped with sensors that discover motion, a performing artist controls, in real-time, a pc animation figure on a screen or an automaton.

5. Chamber World Virtual Reality

A Chamber World Virtual Reality system is a small virtual reality projection theater controlled by several computers that give users the sense of freer movement within a virtual world than the immersive VR systems and thus a feeling of greater immersion.

6. Cab Simulator Environment Virtual Reality

This is another type of “first-person” virtual reality technology that is essentially an extension of the traditional simulator.

Usually an entertainment or experience simulation form of virtual reality, which can be used by a small group or by a single individual. The illusion of presence in the virtual environment is created by the use of visual elements greater than the field of view, three-dimensional sound inputs, computer-controlled motion bases and more than a bit of theatre.

Hamit (1993)

7. Cyberspace Virtual Reality

The term “cyberspace” was coined by William Gibson within the science fiction novel Neuromancer (1986). It describes a future dominated by huge computer networks and databases. The computer network may be the international artificial reality that may be visited at the same time by many of us via networked computers. a computer network is wherever you’re once you are connected to a computer network or electronic information service — or talking on the telephone. However, there additional specialized applications of computer network wherever users attach to a virtual world that exists solely electronically; these applications include text-based MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons or Multi-User Domains) and MUSEs (Multi-User Simulated Environments).

Virtual Reality Types:- Advanced Categorization

Virtual Reality comes in many different solutions now, all of which share one similar attribute – wearing a headset that transports users to a virtual world. Sometimes this virtual world is actual footage of real places and events. Other times it’s imagined worlds created by digital artists and designers.

Some allow the user to interact with/in them, while others are passive experiences that simply happen around the user as they look around the virtual world.

Although it’s tough to categorize all the virtual reality systems or devices.

However, most VR configurations represent 3 main classes. Every class is hierarchal by the sense of immersion or degree of presence it provides.

Immersion or presence will be thought to be how powerfully the attention of the user is concentrated on the task in hand. Immersion presence is usually believed to be the product of many parameters as well as the amount of interactivity, image quality, stereoscopic view, a field of regard and also the update rate of the display.

Mainly we categorize Virtual Reality Technology in 3 Types on the basis of their immersion. Below are the 3 types of VR Systems:-

  1. Non-Immersive VR Systems (Desktop VR Systems)
  2. Semi Immersive VR Systems (Projection VR Systems)
  3. Fully Immersive VR Systems (Head Mounted Vr Systems)

[see fig 1 below]

Types Of Virtual Reality

Non-Immersive VR Systems (Desktop VR Systems)

By the name itself, we can easily understand that Non-Immersive VR Systems or Desktop Vr Systems are the least immersive implementation of VR techniques.

Using the desktop system, the virtual atmosphere is viewed through a portal or window by utilizing a customary high-resolution monitor. Interaction with the virtual atmosphere will occur by standard means like keyboards, mice and trackballs. Similarly, 3D interaction devices like a SpaceBallä; or DataGlove could also increase the same.

Semi Immersive VR Systems (Projection VR Systems)

Semi-immersive systems are a relatively new implementation of VR technology and borrow considerably from technologies developed in the flight simulation field.

A semi-immersive system can comprise of a comparatively high-performance graphics computer system which might be including either:

  • A large screen monitor
  • A large screen projector system
  • Multiple television projection systems

In Conclusion, these projection systems are similar to IMAX theatres. Using a wide field of view, these systems increase the feeling of immersion. However, the quality of the projected image is an important consideration.

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3 thoughts on “Types Of Virtual Reality

  • August 9, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    Very nice article, the way it’s been described about various categorization basics, i love the article

  • August 24, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    now this one is also nice. Keep up the good work

  • August 27, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    That’s really interesting, very nice article.. Please continue to write more on other topics in the same way, so that non tech people like us could understand all the stuff on the go


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