Technology doesn’t stand still. A hundred years ago, people ran out of cinemas when a train from the Lumiere brothers’ movie rode on them. And now, with the help of virtual reality glasses, we are immersing ourselves in a completely new virtual environment. VR is a world created by technologies, which a person feels through different channels of senses.
We used to think that VR is just for fun: video games and movies with virtual reality come to mind. However, VR-technology can be quite successfully used in business: for example, to offer an expensive car for a test drive or to conduct a virtual tour of a new house halfway around the world. Let’s see how to use VR technology and who needs it?
Imagine that realtors no longer need to go with the client to the facility to show the apartment. They can just sit in a comfortable office and receive potential buyers, arranging virtual tours for them. Among other things, the client can change the look of the interior in a virtual apartment and feel, literally, like home.
The most interesting thing is that today you can conduct a virtual tour of the facility, which is just under construction. To do this, the team prepares a typical apartment, which is digitized and a VR copy is made. In this copy, according to the design project, the dimensions of the room, the height of the ceilings and openings, the used finishing materials are observed — everything to create a real apartment.
So buyers can see not only finished apartments and houses but also not yet built. In such a virtual nest, the user can select and install furniture, change the color of the wallpaper, even demolish an unnecessary partition. People like to interact with the product and see what they get in the end.
Virtual reality in tourism is one of the newest and most promising tools for demonstrating tourist places, resorts, hotels. The effect of complete immersion, high image quality, wide possibilities of demonstrating tourist sites and attractions make VR a powerful marketing tool.
A tourist can really appreciate what awaits him in a particular country, at a specific facility and at a specific time of the year. It is at the same time a unique attraction, advertising and a way to convey information much better than any guide or video does.
The possibilities of virtual reality in tourism:
- An acquaintance of clients with the sights of the countries and regions, including the integration of a virtual guide.
- Mutually beneficial work with commercial structures to jointly ensure the interest of customers and the development of tourism in certain regions.
- Immersion of customers in places and attractions that are physically inaccessible for tourists. This can be a great addition to an existing tourism program.
In the automotive industry, VR-technologies can be used at all stages of a product’s life cycle: starting from an order, continuing through the design phase to sales and after-sales services. The product can be presented to the customer even before it is manufactured. Thanks to the use of VR, the company’s products can be effectively and efficiently demonstrated at exhibitions, in sales offices and simply in crowded places.
Firms such as Ford and Audi have created 3D applications that allow customers to view completely different car models and customize them before they even see them. NASA, Boeing, Northrop Grumman Corp., United Technologies Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corp., Airbus/EADS and other large enterprises also have virtual prototyping centers.
What is the rationale for using VR for teaching in schools? Imagine: teachers no longer need to tell, for example, about the Egyptian pyramids and the features of their construction. With the help of virtual reality glasses, kids can hike through tunnels with sarcophagi right at their desks, hear the rustle of labyrinths and independently evaluate the key historical events that unfolded thousands of years ago. This approach will attract schoolchildren to the study of complex subjects and bring engaging games elements to ordinary lessons.
VR can also be used for employee training. This allows companies to increase the efficiency of the supply of material; VR can put a person in situations that are difficult or expensive to simulate in reality, analyze how a person will act in a non-standard situation. So educational programs for employees using virtual reality were effectively implemented by companies such as KFC, the logistics company UPS, which provides express delivery services, the training center Walmart Academy, IKEA, and others.
VR can also be used in areas where the excellent training and qualifications of employees are especially important. For example, in the healthcare industry, VR can be used to train and test doctors before they work on a living person. Using the Medical Realities platform, specializing in VR training, novice doctors can see surgical operations with a 360° view in real-time.
For example, Yale has tested VR training for surgical manipulation of the gallbladder. The authors of the study found that the VR group was 29% faster and made mistakes six times less.
Today, there are virtual anatomical atlases, such as, for example, at the National Library of Medicine in the US. These systems represent various organs of the average person. A computer can recreate not only external but also mechanical parameters of organs. Also, VR allows coping with many mental disorders. It complements exposure therapy in the treatment of phobias: for example, those who are afraid of heights can visit the roof of a skyscraper, while knowing that they are in fact completely safe.
Stages of creating a virtual 3D world
Creating a 3D world is a comprehensive work of programmers and artists on computer visualization of VR. Each of the objects and characters goes through a series of technically difficult stages, involving the mathematical analysis and artistic processing of details. To obtain an image of a 3D object, several steps are required.
The first step in building a 3D model of virtual space is based on mathematical calculation and elaboration of details. The program contains information about geometric shapes, thinks about light sources and the texture of the material.
Lighting and perspective settings
Chiaroscuro in creating a three-dimensional image should reinforce the illusion of presence in the real world. 3D editors allow you to play with light and shadows, enhance the intensity and depth of the object, creating volume and hyperrealism.
The optical effect is used to create an illusion of the depth of virtual space and the ability to focus on valuable objects and main characters.
Digital graphic systems form perfect lines, but through the use of color pixels, you can achieve a smoothing effect and smooth transitions.
For a realistic simulation of the model’s movement, the functionality of the 3D editor is not enough; maximum attention to detail and tracking of specialized software will be required. Now, for visualization and the effect of continuity of motion, at least 30, and preferably 60 frames per second are required. Thanks to this increase, you can consider in great detail static and moving 3D objects.
There are several rendering technologies: scanline, z-buffer, ray tracing, and global lighting. Each of them can transform the selected three-dimensional model into a flat image. The last stage in the formation of the 3D model is compositing or the so-called post-processing of the resulting image.
Software for VR animation
There are plenty of tools and platforms to create simple virtual 3D environments and objects, such as Maya, Structure Sensor, 3ds Max, LightWave, Modo, Cinema 4D, Houdini, etc.
If you want to produce something bigger and more complex, like 3D VR games, you can use game engines like Unity or Unreal, and you would also need Google VR SDK, a headset and an Android phone. With the Unity engine, you can also build 3D models, animations, interior designs.
Unity is a multi-platform tool for developing two- and three-dimensional apps and games, running under the operating systems Windows and OS X, Android, Apple iOS, Linux.
Unity is specifically designed for independent developers and studios – using Unity you can quickly and easily create unique and beautiful 3D content. Unity combines everything you need: intuitive tools, thousands of high-quality ready-made models, textures, effects, and scripts.
This is a game engine developed and maintained by Epic Games. It has been used to create games since 1998, and now, in the era of virtual reality, it helps to create excellent 3D content.
The latest version of Unreal Engine 4 is designed for demanding applications and allows you to create photorealistic objects for VR. It meets all the requirements and provides a solid foundation for project development. Many of the world’s leading brands invariably choose Unreal Engine to bring their ideas to life.
What specialist can help you with VR animation?
To develop VR animation, the team cannot work without an expert in computer graphics visualization or a CGI specialist. CGI artists create characters, environments, objects, special effects, and locations for virtual reality. The term CGI is most often used to refer to 3D animations created for video games, applications, and movies. These professionals should have creativity, artistic ability, technical proficiency with video editing and graphics software, and proficiency with web design software.
A 3D designer will also help in creating animations for your VR project. Even though in the field of 3D-modeling there is fragmentation into specializations, a good professional understands all stages of creating animation. Some designers are engaged only in modeling, others work with light, textures, and so on. In any case, it is better to find a specialist who owns the entire spectrum of capabilities for creating high-quality 3D models for virtual reality.
Now this area is only developing, so the list of responsibilities is very difficult to determine. Often, such specialists have to solve new and non-standard tasks on each project, but this is precisely the specialty that attracts designers.
Virtual reality is definitely an area in which it is worth investing. She has already appeared in many spheres of life and especially business. Many companies have successfully used all the advantages of this technology. Therefore, it will soon be difficult to work without integrating VR into your project, because this is a great and interactive way to interact with customers that they like. Also, virtual reality is very promising and is constantly evolving, which provides new business opportunities.