Virtual Reality: What It Is and What It Is Not - VR Life

We Need To Clarify Virtual Reality

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There are all sorts of possibilities with virtual reality and augmented reality and it’s safe to say, there’s no way to know exactly where it’s going to take us.

Chuang Tzu, a philosopher, once wrote something that relates to this well, “Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man? Between me and the butterfly there must be a difference. This is an instance of transformation.”


Virtual reality’s potential is enormous and it’s creating a whole new language to relay who it is and for people to relay what VR is.

For VR to move forward effectively, language will need to be clear. It needs to have specific definitions to help clarify critique and progress the technology.

Let’s make the terminology more clear.

What VR Is Not:
It’s not Augmented Reality (AR); Augmented Reality utilizes layers of images onto the real world typically with a clear interface that allows user to see the actual world like it is except for new images on top of it. You can see this with Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass, Meta 2 and soon Magic Leap as well.


Virtual reality is not 360 degree video. It describes where a viewer is able to move their perspective of the images into 360 degrees. The viewer can do that by tapping, clicking, dragging, etc. 360 degree video can be viewed on a web browser via YouTube or Facebook or a VR headset such as the Gear VR, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard among other options.

Another thing virtual reality is not, is film. Similar to 360 video, film plays whether the viewer engages or not. All you have to do is press play and the film plays through the frames from the start to the end. 360 degree video is a type of film.

What VR Is:
Virtual reality is a completely immersive experience that’s provided using a system such as an Oculus Rift for example. The viewer is able to feel as though they’re in a different world and they’re really engaging in that world.


How We Can Talk About VR:
We should talk about being able to experience different worlds. We should talk about how it feels and the ideas that it generates. That doesn’t mean we should just talk about the storyline, but rather get more in depth as to the full experience of being immersed.

Where VR Is Headed:
It looks as though virtual reality is going to add all sorts of new opportunities and experiences for people across the globe. People may even be able to improve upon their lives because of virtual experiences they have.

It’s important that moving forward, we embrace how amazing VR is but that we also have a consistently honest look at it so that we can critique it in an organized way.

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