Is Virtual Reality New??

by Pam Loft

People have been working with virtual reality for many years. It is used in flight simulators for pilots and virtual space ships for astronaut training, in automobile design and other training situation. The size and costs of the units kept the units confined to training locations or the arcade and slowly faded from the public view…..why? Virtual Reality is the epitome of the reason why the video game industry is now worth over $60 billion…immersion and escapism… it only failed as a consumer gaming product. It had to await the development of consumer available technology to support it. 4K monitors graphics card that support 4K gaming …together provide high resolution VR and a springboard for Oculus Rift to bounce into the history books.  …this time around VR looks set to be a hit and given their strong position, it’s Oculus VR and Facebook’s game to lose.

Gaming is only one of the applications of VR. Currently VRTEX360 is being used in the auto industry as a means as a screening tool for applicants and for selecting and training welders and spray painters. It saves training time and reduces loss of consumables. It also allows for instantaneous feedback and proficiency scores as the trainee performs the task that he would on the job. It allows repeated proper machine setup developing efficiency that is necessary at a real workstation.

Ford was the first auto maker to use ultrahigh definition virtual reality lab (similar to Second Life Game – online 3D virtual world) that enables designers and engineers to globally work together on vehicles in real time. This allows improvements to be made in vehicles quality ahead of the prototype stage of development. Their immersion lab was started in 2006 and allows for a full-scale 3D image enabling engineers and designers to see inside and through a vehicle…

Audi is releasing a “Dealership in a Briefcase” an immersive virtual experience using the power of the Oculus Rift headset with added sounds of doors shutting, stereo playing mimicking the experience of the cars being browsed. When it arrives later this year, the customer will have the full spectrum of the Audi model range, with respective customization options …colors, leathers, inlays infotaiment systems…and yes,  it will let you drool of the one- of-none-made, brown-on-brown station wagon with the manual transmission and the navigation-delete that you and two other customers on earth have been dreaming about.

Toyota has launched a virtual reality distracted driving simulator as part of its TeenDrive365. Participants get into an actual Toyota and put on an Oculus Rift headset. They are in a car, driving down a city street with the radio on, a couple of friends in the passenger seats and cellphone bagging to be checked while they are in motion. If a truck pulls out and the driver is not paying attention there is crunching of headlights, a cracked windshield, but no bodily harm. They get to see the impact of distractions like texting or picking up your phone would have in a real driving situation. The participants can look all around the car, the sensors on the steering wheel and the pedals translate what they are doing with their handset and feet into the experience. (Toyota used Oculus Rift and Unity software)