Most people should be familiar with the concept of virtual reality to some extent. For those who are unsure, virtual reality means creating a simulated reality that seems to exist by providing the user’s senses with the right information. In the present time, this process makes use of various systems that include but are by no means limited special gloves, special headsets, and omni-directional treadmills. With that said, our senses are very important for us, so it should come as no surprise that even small problems can be very noticeable. As such, even the latest virtual reality experiences are still very flawed in the sense that users can pick up on their issues when it comes to simulating reality, thus causing the whole illusion to crumble in an instant. Unfortunately, these issues are both numerous and wide-ranging in nature, meaning that we are still very far away from the emerging technology that can be called immersive virtual realty.
For those who are wondering what immersive virtual reality is supposed to be, it refers to a virtual reality experience that is so good that its users feel the same sense of immersion from it that they feel from real life. In other words, immersive virtual reality is the kind of virtual reality that has been envisioned by hundreds and hundreds of works in speculative fiction rather than the much more primitive kind of virtual reality that can be found out there in the real world in the present time. Theoretically, it should be possible to improve the virtual reality experiences that already exist until they are comparable to immersive virtual reality. In practice, well, suffice to say that this will be much easier said than done, according to this.
How Close Are We to Immersive Virtual Reality?
One of the biggest issues with creating immersive virtual reality is that there is such an enormous number of issues that must be overcome before virtual reality experiences become good enough to be indistinguishable from the real world. For instance, consider the headset. There are a lot of people out there who will point out how their modern audiovisual capabilities are nowhere near the point of being able to support a realistic simulated reality. Never mind a near-real simulated reality. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg that must be addressed before headsets are perfect. In fact, it should be mentioned that headsets can be argued to be flawed for immersive virtual reality on a fundamental level. Partly, this is because headsets come with a feel as well as a weight of their own, meaning that they conflict with what their users are supposed to be experiencing in virtual reality. However, it should also be noted that modern headsets don’t provide their users with the full 180 degrees range of vision that humans enjoy under normal circumstances, meaning that the absence of the right peripheral vision is another serious issue that must be corrected at some point.
Likewise, there are a host of other issues that must be solved at some point. For example, the sense of touch is starting to be incorporated into virtual reality experiences. However, there is still a long way to go before support for such capabilities reach the point of realism for virtual reality experiences, which isn’t even considering how the human sense of touch extends far beyond just our hands. Likewise, it should be mentioned that modern virtual reality experiences still cause motion sickness in many users because of the difference between what they see and what their other senses tell them, meaning that this is something that will have to be overcome as well. Fortunately, there is progress being made on this particular front. Unfortunately, said progress is no more than the start of the process for achieving immersive virtual reality.
Under these circumstances, it is no wonder that immersive virtual reality in speculative fiction often uses a direct connection with the human nervous system rather than an upgraded version of modern virtual reality setups. However, it is important to note that this would be a different field altogether. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that this would be a different set of fields together, seeing as how both of these concepts of immersive virtual reality requires the merging of multiple disciplines in order to get the desired effects. On the whole, researchers have made enormous strides in understanding the human brain as well as figuring out how it can connect in a direct manner with systems that are not a natural part of the human body. However, they are still at the point of attempting to restore lost sight by connecting a camera with a device implanted in the brain, which is very far away from the point of being able to project a simulated reality with the kind of convenience seen in speculative fiction.
Summed up, it is possible that our understanding of the relevant fields will become good enough to achieve immersive virtual reality at some point in the future. Something that is particularly true because there is widespread interest in the various necessary fields plus their potential applications in a wide range of contexts. However, we aren’t even close to being able to create simulated realities of the kind described by the definition of immersive virtual reality, meaning that there is still a long time to wait. Some people might be tempted to make predictions about how long interested individuals can expect to wait, but to be perfectly honest, there isn’t enough information to even start making accurate predictions in this regard. As such, these predictions wouldn’t be particularly helpful in a practical sense, though they might be fun for people who enjoy the idea of immersive virtual reality if nothing else.