Virtual reality(VR) covers wide spectrum 3D technologies. There are many way to categorize those techniques. We can simply divide those into two major categories by their usability:
1. Immersive 3D or Immersive Reality
2. Interactive 3D or interactive reality
They have many in common. Such as both of them:
1. A computer generated virtual environment
2. Communicate with human via Human-Machine Interface (HMI)
3. Simulate the hypothetical scenes in 3D which either exist in the real physical world or not, or can not easily to be seen by human natural eyes
However, they distinguish how human involve and interactive with the virtual environment.
With immersive 3D —- human
1. View the environment from head mounted display (HMD) and
2. Interactive with the system with human body movement, such as via gloves, motion sensors, etc.
3. Are part of the entire system and the system user at the same time
With Interactive 3D —– human
1. View the environment from projected images, such as desktop computer monitor or big projected screen
2. Interactive with the system through computer commends via keyboard, mouse, joystick etc.
3. Is not part of the system but the system user only
Many times, those two different virtual reality core systems are interchangeable. Interactive 3D is more widely used, especially online version. The user need nothing but web browser. There is no special hardware, software or training overhead.
It is very value tool for general consumer market. Such as interactive 3 house, interactive 3D hotel, interactive 3D boat, etc. Which enable consumer walk through the building from their fingertip as if they are visiting the site in person even long before the ground break. Or the manufacture doesn’t have to build every possible floor model boat to dramatically reduce the risks.
Immersive 3D can almost simulate everything you can imagine if we don’t consider the cost constrain. It not only need special hardware, software, but also required dedicated space to hold the system and constant calibration to keep the accuracy.
One the other hand, interactive 3D can be done very easily at reasonable cost with normal computer. Sometime it may cost even less than traditional static rendering or animation. Then add additional function eventually.
Interactive 3D can also connect with additional hardware input devices, such as joystick, control console, scanner or other mechanical simulation hardware to reach sophistical virtual reality functions.
Compare interactive 3D with traditional 3D illustration which include 3D rendering, animation, the user can bi-directional communicate with the illustration, such as change the viewpoints, material options and view the simulation in real time, in 3D vs the user only can “watch” whatever pre-produced, if the user want to change the viewpoint or see the different color/material choice, they are out of luck.
More about traditional 3D vs interact 3D can be found at What’s missing in 3D illustration – Conversational Online 3D presentation
How about the interaction with real physical world via a camera in real time? Such as smart phone and laptop nowadays all have built in camera. This more belongs to Augment or mixed reality. I will write more about augment reality in separate articles.
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