A virtual reality environment requires a different set of tools and equipment to make the virtual experience as exciting, pulsating, awe-inspiring and stimulating as possible.
While you can have some virtual reality experience through a computer screen display and navigate the virtual world with the use of a mouse and the keyboard, it will never compare to the experience of being immersed within the virtual reality environment itself. With the special virtual reality equipment you can interact and touch virtual objects and navigate the virtual landscapes as if you are in the real world.
You can do an online search to find suppliers and sellers of virtual reality equipment. One site you can try is VRealities.com. You can also search online phone directories like Super Pages. It will give you a listing of virtual reality equipment sellers by state.
Here is a list of some of the equipment that you can look for:
Head-mounted displays. This is a computer display that you wear in your head like a helmet or a pair of goggles. It is constructed in such a way that the LCD monitor will be in front of the user’s eyes anywhere he looks. Some types have only a screen for one eye but newer types have a screen over each eye, giving more depth to the image projected.
Cave Automatic Virtual Environment. Researchers and students at the University of Illinois-Chicago developed this. The system looks like a small cave or room where the three walls and maybe the floor are used as monitors. The user wears a pair of goggles similar to those used while watching 3D movies as he navigates the virtual environment freely. Images are rear-projected on the screens. The images are in stereoscopic format and alternating patters are projected at a very fast rate while the lenses in the user’s goggles have shutters that close and open in synchronized pattern to the rate of projection. The goggles are attached with a tracking device that allows the computer to adjust the image projection as the user navigates. A controller wand aids the user in interacting with virtual objects.
Workbenches. This are large monitors that allow several people to view an image at the same time vertically or titled horizontally just like a work bench or a table. Users also wear the same type of goggles worn by those in a Cave environment.
VR Data Suits and gloves. These are designed to provide the user with unimpeded interaction and navigation of a virtual reality environment. Wired data suits are to be worn by the user. The suit can interpret and translate the user’s motions into action inside the VR environment, together with a head-mounted device. Wired gloves allow the wearer to interact with virtual objects through hand gestures.
VR Input Devices. Most of these devices are designed to aid the user in navigation. There are different types of input devices, such as:
- Omnidirectional treadmill – It functions like a regular treadmill but with the additional of another motor, the user can walk forward and backward, right and left. The complex system of cables and belts is wrapped around the walking surface. Another walking surface is a pressure mat, which is similar to the pressure-sensitive surface used in “Dance Dance Revolution” video game.
- Tracking systems – These systems tell the computer the position of the user, the direction he is headed to as well as the speed in which he moves towards a destination. It can be in the form of electromagnetic tracking, acoustic tracking, mechanical tracking and optical tracking.
- 3D Controllers - These are mostly hand-held input devices such as a joystick, 3D and 6D mouse, and guns.
- Haptics or force feedback devices - These can also come in different types such as vests, chairs, cushions, head sets, and other forms that provide tactile experiences to the wearer/user.
These equipments are specially designed to give you the maximum experience and enjoyment when you are in a virtual environment. With the special design comes a special price. Make sure that you compare prices and models before you make your final decision to buy.