Virtual Reality: The Different Types and the Risks Involved

Virtual Reality The Different Types and the Risks Involved

Virtual reality is changing how we view the world, literally. But it is not without its risks! 

In the 21st century, it is difficult to picture a world where technology does not reign supreme. From machine learning to artificial intelligence and so much more—the tech world has advanced, and how. Among the front-runners in this advancement is virtual reality (VR). VR is all about creating a computer-generated environment that looks and feels like reality. It is an interactive experience where users can explore and interact with the virtual world using VR headsets, gloves, controllers, etc. This technology is becoming increasingly popular in video gaming, entertainment, education, business and more.

As VR bleeds into our everyday lives more and more with each passing day, it helps to know the types of VR solutions we might interact with and their potential downfalls. Here’s a look:

What are the three types of virtual reality?

1. Non-immersive: This is the most basic and entry-level form of VR. Non-immersive VR does not completely block out the user’s real-world surroundings. Instead, it supplements your everyday computer with a mouse and keyboard. This type of VR is typically used for training, real estate or educational purposes, as it allows users to remain aware of their surroundings while still being able to interact with a virtual environment. An example of this is playing video games on your computer.

2. Semi-immersive: Semi-immersive VR is a step up from non-immersive VR. It blocks out the user’s real-world surroundings. However, unlike fully immersive VR, semi-immersive VR does not provide the most immersive experience in that it doesn’t engage all your senses. Plus, depending on your chosen device, you might still see the edges of your field of vision while wearing a semi-immersive VR headset or a pair of glasses.

An example of semi-immersive VR would be taking a virtual tour of a hotel room you wish to stay at. Using semi-immersive VR technology, you would be able to navigate around the room by way of swiping on your laptop or smartphone. 

3. Fully-immersive: As the name suggests, fully immersive VR provides users with a 360-degree field of view. This means that users are completely cut off from the outside world and are instead surrounded by a computer-generated environment.

For instance, if you want the experience of skydiving without actually having to jump off a plane, a fully-immersive VR simulator might be a good alternative. It would engage all your senses, from the feeling of the wind against your body to the sensation of falling from a great height, to give you a lifelike experience. 

What are the risks of virtual reality?

That VR offers a host of benefits—and has transformed how we think about technology—is well-known. However, VR is not without its downfalls. Here is our round-up of the top seven risks of VR.

1. Cybersickness: Cybersickness is a type of sickness that occurs when users spend extended periods in a virtual environment. Symptoms include nausea, disorientation, and headaches. This is caused by a disconnect between what users see in the virtual world and what their bodies are experiencing in the real world. To combat this, developers are working on creating more realistic virtual environments and designing shorter VR experiences.

2. Data and privacy concerns: As with any new technology, there are always data and privacy concerns. When it comes to VR, these concerns revolve around the fact that VR headsets collect a lot of data about their users. This data includes everything from biometric information to location data. While this data is collected to provide better VR experiences, there is a risk of leakage or non-consensual use of said data. To mitigate this risk, it is important only to use VR headsets from reputable brands and to ensure that all personal information is kept secure.

3. Eye strain: Another downside of VR is that it can cause eye strain. This is because VR headset displays are usually very close to users’ eyes. To tackle this, developers are working on creating VR headset displays with higher resolutions and refresh rates.

4. Isolation: One of the risks of VR is isolation. This is because VR headsets cut users off from the outside world. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and anxiety. To combat this, developers are working on creating social VR experiences that allow users to interact with each other in the virtual world.

5. Lack of content: While there is a growing amount of VR content available, it is still quite behind when compared to other forms of entertainment, such as movies or video games. This lack of content is one of the main reasons why VR has yet to reach mass adoption.

6. Technical problems: As with any new technology, there are bound to be technical problems. These problems can range from hardware issues to software glitches. To counter this, it is important to use only VR headsets from reputable brands and ensure that all software is up-to-date.

7. Victims of crime: One of the risks of VR is that users could become victims of crime, including money laundering, child abuse and the like. This is because VR headsets provide criminals with a new way to target their victims. To prevent this, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings when using a VR headset and to report any suspicious behavior to the authorities.

Ultimately, VR is a new and exciting technology with a lot of potential. However, it is crucial to be aware of the risks associated with VR before using it. By taking precautions and being aware of the risks, you can ensure that your experience with VR is a positive one.

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