Virtual Reality (VR) is an interactive immersive software and hardware-based experience that allows users to enjoy a simulated three-dimensional world using a head mounted display (HMD), or head-set. When utilizing the HMD, the user is immersed in a fully three-dimensional environment which aims to mimic the real world and its physical properties as closely as possible.
VR Applicability and Uses
The nature of virtual reality lends itself well to a whole host of experiences as it offers a combination of movement, immersion and interaction. The experience and capabilities that it provides has many applications outside of its presumed entertainment value.
Virtual reality is an ideal set up and scenario for the training of individuals across a whole host of industries such as education, manufacturing and the pharmaceutical industry. The scenarios and interactions it offers in a virtual world or setting make it an important and necessary tool in the future of training.
Training individuals can be a costly and a potentially dangerous scenario for both company and trainee and has proven difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. By utilising a virtual world, a natural barrier is created between the user and a theoretically hazardous situation. It can provide levels of safety for a trainee or trainees that were never possible before. The user can gain all the benefits of training but without any of the dangers of the real-world experience.
VR Demonstration Prototype
‘Crazy Adventures in Fun Town’ is a virtual reality experience developed by the MEPS (Mobile Eco Systems and Pervasive Sensing) unit in TSSG, Waterford. The experience details several different but fun and enjoyable scenarios which intends to demonstrate the interactions and physics contained within a virtual environment. Created in the ‘Unreal Engine 4 Physics’ engine, Crazy Adventures in Fun Town offers the user a glimpse to a virtual experience, it also demonstrates all its attributes and potential. Although presented as an entertainment experience, it showcases that VR is not just limited to entertainment and has applicability across a wide range of industries.
Interactions are achieved using oculus quest controllers. The controllers are represented as virtual hands that are present from the users first person perspective. Once the HMD has been placed securely on the users’ head, they can experience the world and surrounding environment using these avatar hands. The avatars behave mostly as the user’s real hand would allowing for a very accurate manipulation of objects in the virtual environment.
As a means of navigation in the virtual environment the user can implement teleportation. By holding the trigger on the oculus quest controller and pointing in the direction of the desired location, the user is seamlessly transported to the spot at which they pointed. This does not serve as the only means of transportation in the virtual environment, the user can also utilize locomotion. By pressing the thumb stick on the oculus controller, the user can move in any direction they wish.
Using an Object
This section of the of the demo scene affords the user the use of an object; in this case a baseball bat. It showcases the combination of the user’s hand avatars, interactions and the simulated real-world physics. The bat itself behaves as a real-life bat would by it colliding with other objects in the scene.
This section of the experience demonstrates more of the physical interaction that are possible in this environment. The punching bag interactions displayed demonstrates a unique feature of operating in a virtual environment. It offers the added benefits of physical exercise removing any need to remain stationary when using the application.
The experience also allows travel and movement via climbing in certain areas of the world. The user can scale to new heights by grabbing ledges and propelling themselves forward on a wall that has been designed for climbing. The climbing scenario behaves just as it would in real life. Letting go of the wall when at a height will demonstrate the simulated gravity in operation in the experience.
Interactions are not just limited to that of virtual hands and collision physics, the experience also offers the user the ability to throw projectiles at force toward objects. Interactions between the projectile and the objects further demonstrates the robust real-world accuracy of the simulated physics in the experience.
Crazy Adventures in Fun Town was developed by Colin Fardey to demonstrate the interactions and physics contained within a virtual environment.
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