What Is Virtual Reality (VR)? How Does It Work?

Seeing what doesn't really exist in front of your eyes.


Virtual Reality is a computer-generated environment that people can experience through sensory stimulation, i.e., visual and auditory, making the surroundings immersive and real. Take it this way; you can experience the middle of an ocean or an island miles away while staying home.

VR technology requires a lot of components to function. For instance, you’ll need a VR Headset, a VR-capable device, and a service that can stream VR content.

The term Virtual Reality essentially comes from the definitions of both “virtual” and “reality” that we all know. In layman’s terms, Virtual Reality means experiencing things that don’t exist. Likewise, you could call it an illusion if you wanted.

VR isn’t something new; it has been out there for several years now. VR tech became mainstream when early prototypes of the Oculus Rift surfaced in 2012. However, it’s beginning to mature and come of age now.

How does VR work?

VR headset in industry

The Virtual Reality environment requires a VR headset to hear and see content from an app or service. As of now, you can experience a variety of media on VR headsets, which could be standalone hardware or powered by a computer.

For instance, some games support VR, where you can play while being the protagonist. You could experience everything inside a fantasy game yourself, or play badminton with your friends.

While explaining the concept of Virtual Reality, you need to familiarize yourself with the term “immersion” to understand it. The VR user gets immersed in an artificial three-dimensional computer-generated environment that they can interact with. Moreover, there are a variety of VR-compatible services that can stream content.

Many have tried their hands at VR and failed; *cough* Google Daydream. Facebook is progressing swiftly with several VR apps such as Facebook Horizon and the Oculus brand. VR isn’t all about entertainment – various industries use VR tech for their day-to-day functioning. Healthcare professionals use VR headsets to gain better insight while diagnosing patients; real-estate and architectural sectors use Virtual Reality to function efficiently.

The future of Virtual Reality

using virtual reality in future

VR has been a hot topic for several months now. With significant tech companies weighing in, Virtual Reality is gaining all the importance it deserves and is progressing. Facebook is all-in with its VR department; the Oculus VR headsets keep getting better with time.

But is there a need for Virtual Reality? There isn’t a definite answer, but there are several indirect ones that appeal to everyone in a different way. Be it for stress relief, leisure, or research, VR can help everyone use it. With billions of dollars pouring into the industry, its base is strong, and we might see VR tech emerging in unusual places in no time.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth Dudeja

An engineering student with a keen interest in most aspects of technology. Likes to write about Microsoft, Apple, Laptops, Gaming, etc.
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