Virtual reality (VR) typically refers to computer technologies that use virtual reality headsets to generate the realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment or create an imaginary setting. VR also simulates a user's physical presence in this environment. VR has been defined as "a realistic and immersive simulation of a three-dimensional 360 degree environment, created using interactive software and hardware, and experienced or controlled by movement of the body" or as an "immersive, interactive experience generated by a computer".
A person using virtual reality equipment is able to "look around" the artificial world, and with high quality VR move about in it, and interact with features or items depicted in the headset. Virtual reality is displayed with a virtual reality headset . VR headsets are head-mounted goggles with a screen in front of the eyes. Programs may include audio and sounds through speakers or headphones.
Advanced haptic systems may include tactile information, generally known as force feedback in medical, video gaming and military training applications. Some VR systems used in video games can transmit vibrations and other sensations to the user through the game controller. Virtual reality also refers to remote communication environments which provide a virtual presence of users with through telepresence and telexistence or the use of a virtual artifact (VA). The immersive environment can be similar to the real world in order to create a life-like experience grounded in reality or sci-fi.
Oculus initiated a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to fund the Rift's development, after being founded as an independent company two months prior. The project proved successful, raising US$2.5 million. In March 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus for $2 billion.
The Rift has gone through various pre-production models since the Kickstarter campaign, around five of which were demonstrated to the public. Two of these models were shipped to backers, labelled as 'development kits'; the DK1 in mid 2013 and DK2 in mid 2014, to give developers a chance to develop content on time for the Rift's release. However, both were also purchased by a large number of enthusiasts who wished to get an early preview of the technology.
The Rift has a stereoscopic OLED display, 1080×1200 resolution per eye, a 90 Hz refresh rate, and 110° field of view. It has integrated headphones which provide a 3D audio effect, rotational and positional tracking. The positional tracking system, called "Constellation", is performed by a USB stationary infrared sensor that is picking up light that is emitted by IR LEDs that are integrated into the head-mounted display. The sensor normally sits on the user's desk. This creates 3D space, allowing for the user to use the Rift while sitting, standing, or walking around the same room.
When in use, a compatible Samsung Galaxy device (Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6/S6 Edge/S6 Edge+, or Galaxy S7/S7 Edge) acts as the headset's display and processor, while the Gear VR unit itself acts as the controller, which contains the high field of view, as well as a custom inertial measurement unit, or IMU, for rotational tracking, which connects to the smartphone via micro-USB. The Gear VR headset also includes a touchpad and back button on the side, as well as a proximity sensor to detect when the headset is on.
The Gear VR was first announced in September 2014. To allow developers to create content for the Gear VR and to allow VR and technology enthusiasts to get early access to the technology, Samsung had released two innovator editions of the Gear VR before the consumer version.
Microsoft HoloLens, known under development as Project Baraboo, is a pair of mixed reality smartglasses developed and manufactured by Microsoft. HoloLens gained popularity for being one of the first computers running the Windows Mixed Reality platform under the Windows 10 operating system. The HoloLens can trace its lineage to Kinect, an add-on for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console that was introduced in 2010.
The pre-production version of HoloLens, the Development Edition, shipped on the 30th of March 2016, and is targeted to developers in the United States and Canada for a list price of $3000. Samsung and Asus have extended an offer to Microsoft to help produce their own mixed-reality products, in collaboration with Microsoft, based around the concept and hardware on HoloLens. On October 12, 2016, Microsoft announced global expansion of HoloLens and publicized that HoloLens would be available for preorder in Australia, Ireland, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.