Technology has opened up a world of possibilities for individuals and businesses. Technology can be used for multiple tasks and varied experiences. One such technology is virtual reality. The term “virtual” means not true but simulated or created artificially. And the term “reality” conveys the idea that the experience will be realistic. So, virtual reality is convincingly able to create an illusion of being in an environment that is virtual yet seems real.
Virtual reality was developed to provide users an altogether different experience. Its aim was to provide a distinct experience which was unlike any other media forms, such as movies, books, or television. It was more powerful and engaging than any other form of media. And over the years, the technology has been growing and enhancing to present an all-immersive and interactive virtual experience.
VR technology has various applications across industries, including entertainment, education, healthcare, and training.
Amongst many applications of VR, It is in the field of gaming that it has gained popularity and grown exponentially. It has completely revolutionized the gaming experience for users. Once considered impossible, people can now experience high-speed racing, shooting, adventure, action, and horror-based games. You can visit a nearby gaming arcade to ride a motorcycle simulator machine or a car racing simulator.
How Does VR Technology Work?
The simulated environment of virtual reality is created using special hardware and software. The players interact with this hardware and software. Three main components of virtual reality technology are:
1. Head-mounted Display (HMD)
This special wearable device is put on the player’s head. It comes with a screen positioned close to the user’s eyes. On this screen, special graphic effects are generated through software that transforms the user into a virtual world. The graphics generated have a stereoscopic 3D effect.
Due to this effect the player experiences an illusion of depth perception. They can feel the images popping from the screen or receding into the background. All this feels real because it would appear as it is in the real world.
2. Input Devices
The headgear is accompanied by some interactive input devices so that the players’ other body parts are also involved. How will a tennis game feel real if the player cannot swirl his arm and hit the ball? Similarly, how will a racing game feel real if the player is just sitting and seeing a race track and a motorbike navigating through it?
So, there are various interactive input devices such as controllers, joysticks, peddles, or hand-tracking devices. They vary according to the game being played. Players can move and manipulate these virtual objects to navigate the simulated environment.
3. Computer System
The HMD and input devices connect to a high-speed computer system. The computer must generate and render complex 3D graphics in real-time to create a realistic and immersive virtual environment. For this, it requires high processing speed and a high-end graphics card.
Also, it should be able to track the player’s movements and input in real time and respond to them with minimal delay.
4. Multiple Sensors
To enhance the VR experience nowadays, various sensory inputs are also being incorporated. These include smell stimulation, where the smell is sprayed to enhance realism. Wind-blowing sensors blow wind or water spraying sensors spray water on players’ faces to make them feel they are in the real world.
VR simulators are great for racing games, as they can provide a more realistic and immersive experience of driving a car, motorcycle, or boat. Its components are:
Head-mounted Display (HMD)
The player wears a VR HMD that displays a 3D view of the gaming environment. This can be the track and the vehicle being driven. The headset’s sensors track the player’s head movements, allowing them to look around and see the track from different angles. This can give them a greater sense of situational awareness, which is important in racing.
Various input devices accompany a racing simulator, allowing the player to intuitively control the vehicle. A car racing simulator will have a steering wheel, foot pedals including brakes, an accelerator, a clutch, and a gearbox. There can be a button box with switches for various control functions of a car, like adjusting headlights or giving a dipper.
Similarly, a motorcycle racing simulator will have handlebars, foot pedals including throttle, clutch and brakes, and a shift lever. Advanced simulators may also have body position sensors. These sensors will sense the player’s posture in real-time, and if the player leans to one side, they can show the balance of the motorcycle also leaning. These sensors further enhance the realism of the experience.
Software For Creating The Gaming Environment
These special input devices are accompanied by special software for creating the gaming environment. The software contains real-world like gaming tracks, vehicles, and game modes. Players can select the mode, track, and vehicle as per their choice. They can rename themselves and track their progress and vehicle speed while playing.
Most of the software allows for multi-mode play, where players from all over the world can participate in these games. Otherwise, a player can play against the computer also. The graphics and sound effects are very realistic and make the player feel that they are actually driving the vehicle and navigating the road.
Servo Control Motion System
Advanced racing simulators now come with a servo control motion system. It means racing simulators are mounted on a special motion platform. These platforms are designed to replicate the simulated vehicle’s movement and sensations, like a car or a motorcycle. This platform contains some electric motors, sensors, and a control system. The sensors provide real-time feedback to the control system. Based on this feedback, the control system adjusts the position and movement of the platform. So, a player feels he is really sitting inside a car or on a motorcycle.
Technological advancements have opened new avenues of gaming and entertainment through virtual reality. Virtual reality has provided a never-before immersive experience, especially to the gaming fraternity. They can now play in larger-than-life scenarios, compete in epic battles, and engage with players worldwide.