Virtual reality is finally good. If you lived through the VR technology of the 90s, that’s something you might never expect to hear. However, if you own any current-generation VR gear, you know there’s a lot of AAA fun to be had in cyberspace.
VR games in particular have been really successful, which can lead to the impression that this is what VR is all about. However, there are a number of nifty apps that use VR technology for something other than an innovative gaming experience.
From practical gadgets to educational experiences to art. There’s a VR app for everything. These five VR apps are perfect examples of how VR can be used for more than just video games.
Virtual Desktops for Oculus Go
The Oculus Go is a standalone, standalone VR headset from Facebook-owned Oculus. Many of the apps that were originally designed for the tethered Oculus Rift have been ported in one form or another to the Go.
One popular application is Virtual Desktop. It basically takes you into a virtual space and then duplicates your desktop screen in that space. There are many reasons to do this.
For one, it’s a great way to work in private without distractions or shoulder skimming. It also means you’re not limited by your physical display. As many as you want, in any arrangement and in any size. Desktop VR software also lets you watch VR content like 360-degree YouTube videos.
Putting software in a truly wireless VR headset opens up a lot of possibilities. Use it with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and you can take your desktop anywhere in the house, within reach of WiFi. You can also use this software over an internet connection from anywhere in the world, but obviously latency and bandwidth become factors to consider.
Google Earth VR
Google has done a lot to digitize and map our planet. From satellite imagery in Google maps to Google Street View, you can see countless wonderful worlds from the comfort of your couch.
The pinnacle of all this geographic data collection is undoubtedly Google Earth, which doesn’t get a lot of attention these days. So you might be surprised to learn that Google Earth has a full VR version, compatible with both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.
Using advanced 3D rendering and imaging technology, Google Earth VR lets you fly around the world, look down at cities, soar through canyons, and experience the world like some giant god. . The visuals provided here are indeed an impressive feat, and it’s a great educational tool, even if you don’t opt for the VR version.
One of the best things about modern VR is what’s called “presence”. That’s the feeling you get when your brain thinks you’re really wherever the VR world tells you to be. It means that you perceive virtual objects around you as really there, including virtual people.
This means that social VR apps have the potential to give us a whole new online social experience. vTime is one of the most impressive examples of this type of VR application. It’s a cross-platform app that allows people using VR and traditional 2D devices to chat with each other seamlessly. They call it a “cross-reality” platform, which basically means that people in the same virtual space will have different experiences.
Those spaces are pretty nice, too. From tropical islands to cozy fireplace lounges, vTime creates a space for you to be with other people. Although in the form of a cartoon avatar.
While the effect may not be as dramatic using something other than VR, the surprising feeling of using a headset when using social apps like this really makes you feel this is something special.
While VR uses many of the technologies we already know, it’s really a fitting new medium. Which means people still have to figure out how to effectively tell stories using it.
Unlike film frames, you can’t have complete control over what viewers see or pay attention to. So creators have to invent new ways to give people the experience they intended when creating content in a subtle and effective way.
Henry, a VR animated short, is currently the best example of how a story can be told in VR. It was the introductory title for the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, and Gear VR. Expertly rendered and designed, with Hollywood-grade production quality, Henry shows what’s possible with VR and is yet to be surpassed.
The story itself is quite engaging, but it’s also important as a technical and artistic milestone and introduction. If you own the right VR gear and have never seen Henry, that’s something you need to fix immediately.
VR is promoted primarily as a way to consume things that other people have created. Whether it’s VR videos, games or other interactive software. Google looked at it from a different angle and instead created a tool that lets you use VR’s unique properties to create content.
Tilt Brush is available for Vive, Oculus, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. It’s a painting tool that works in three dimensions. Or perhaps it’s a 3D VR modeling tool that works with brushes. Really, you’ll have to re-evaluate the way you think about things for it to really make sense.
Even if you don’t want to create your own work, you can explore other people’s works in VR, because they want to be seen. It’s a whole new way to approach art and it’s so glorious.
VR – More than what is suitable for the eye
As with any new medium, creators and developers are still exploring what’s possible. It took decades from the mainstream acceptance of TV to the pinnacle of modern television today.
Proper and realistic VR has only been around since about 2016, so seeing such diversity of applications already bodes well. So, if you’re a bit engrossed in VR games, there’s no reason for that headset to collect dust. There’s still a lot of work to do!