Monthly Archives: March 2016

Do we want VR? : 15/03/2016


 Do we want VR?

It is reported that less than 1% of PCs used globally will have the power to facilitate the high end virtual reality devices. So why are forecasters suggesting 2016 will the year VR will finally take off? Despite the high price the Oculus Rift has exceeded expectations and new pre-orders are being delayed. 15000 HTC Vives were sold in the first 10 minutes when released on 29th February 2016. Sony has undercut the other two headsets and announced on 15th March 2016 that it will sell the Playstation VR for $399 and predicted 1.6 million headsets will be sold before 2017. Samsungs Gear VR sold out when released in November 2015 helped by its price of $99. Is this a novelty or is VR here to stay? Well over five million Google cardboards have already been shipped since 2014, 25 million Google cardboard apps have been downloaded and 350,000 hours of VR video has been seen. Even though the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR use smartphones for the VR experience and do not have the quality of immersion as the more expensive devices, they are a good early indication that consumers are enjoying the VR experience and more likely to spend money to get the best reality experience.

Health Risks of VR : 11/03/2016

Health Risks

There are reported side effects to virtual reality and consequently many brands have put an age limit of 13. Many believe that these companies are simply covering themselves. Professor Peter Howarth, an optometrist and expert on stereoscopic displays believes that there is no significant risk to children. (VentureBeat, 2016) There is a long list of health and safety warnings, which are provided with these devices but again many believe it is simply to cover themselves from liability. If these side effects were as dangerous as to cover them with all these warnings many believe that VR projects would never have had billions invested in them and the excitement and momentum being created would not have happened.

Side effects:

  • Motion sickness
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Eye strain
  • Nausea

How to counteract these:

  • Allow movement in the direction the user is facing but can be limiting to using applications.
  • Creating less complex textures on the images and reducing player motion can avoid vection, where your brain is being tricked into movement.
  • Keep turns and jumps to a minimum and reduce side to side motion.
  • Have lighter headsets.
  • Provide natural eye optics to provide comfortable viewing and reduce eye strain.

VentureBeat (2016) We are not talking about what VR is doing to our eyes…Available at:

(Accessed 11 March 2016)


Consumer Thoughts…. : 08/03/2016


What do people think about virtual reality?

The tech industry believes VR and AR will be the latest craze and change life as television, computers, smartphones and the internet have done previously. The difference though is that VR is a tried and tested technology, which failed during its introduction to the mainstream during the 90s. Initially films like Tron (1982) and later The Lawnmower Man (1992) made audiences believe that an interactive world was well within reach. It did not live up to expectations with rudimentary technology and worlds that did not provide the immersive experience as promised. This time round with advancements in technology and consumer devices industry specialists believe VR is going to become a totally immersive experience in the world of games, entertainment and other applications eg. health, education and will be here to stay. The question is though what do consumers think of this reincarnation….

Worldwide, only 23 percent of people are convinced virtual reality is as good as the real thing, according to a survey by analyst firm GfK

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 20.27.43

Which Headset?: 03/03/2016


2016 is the year for virtual reality to really take off. So that’s what anyone who has any interest in technology is now saying. New headsets are hitting the market this year set to transform entertainment and gaming beyond recognition.

Oculus Rift

Invented by Palmer Luckey and now owned by Facebook. The Oculus has started the present re-invention of virtual reality and many others are now in competion to become the market leader.


Playstation VR (Sony’s Project Morpheus)

Idea to make the player feel as though they have stepped inside the world of the game is what Sony Computer Entertainment promises with its headset (Wareable, 2016).


HTC Vive

In partnership with Valve (US games company) created much excitement. Comes with two controllers and therefore more expensive than the others but to its advantage has a lighter headset because takes a lot of the technological software from your PC.


Samsung Gear VR

Oculus rift powered device and uses the Samsung Galaxy phone as its processor and display. Already available to buy, released in 2015 and a lot cheaper than the other highend headsets. No leads to connect so portable and many apps, games and TV shows already available to use.


Google Cardboard

Allows everyone to experience VR at a cheap and affordable price by placing your smartphone in the headset and choosing from any number of apps available from Google play store. This may not provide the same experience as the more expensive and more technological headsets but has brought VR into the 21st century.



Microsoft HoloLens

Now for something different. Using Windows 10 technology this augmented reality headset brings holograms into the real world. Unlike Google Glass which had the holograms hovering over your phone the Hololens brings 3D images into your room and with further development should be able to be locked so the viewer can walk round and view the object from all angles. Due to be released around Christmas 2016.


(Wareable, 2016) The Best VR Headsets Available at: (Accessed:02 March 2016)

(Wareable, 2016) Sony Playstation VR Available at: (Accessed: 02 March 2016)


Project Concept

My Idea

There are many applications for adults in VR so my first thought was to engage children in a space where they could be immersed but would be familiar. After much research I found there were already many expedition applications, world tours and space explorations. I was also inspired by how this form of learning made children want to learn and explore these environments and also how VR was used as assistive technology for the disabled (About Health, 2016).

I decided that storytelling would be a good idea and decided to go back to the beginning and use fairytales as my idea. Next step, which tale to tell? Remembering my favourite stories I decided to go with Hansel and Gretel because the house of sweets has always fascinated me and artistically this would visually work in the simulated world.

It might not be possible to create the full story with the timescales but I will use the scenario with the house to bring the story to life.

final logo

About Health (2016) Benefits of Virtual Reality for Children Available at:

(Accessed: 01 March 2016)

Phobias: Fear to drive : 29/02/2016

Group Seminar

Each group had to choose an application for virtual reality. Military, Education and Phobias were discussed. I researched the fear of driving and how vr can help with this issue.

Phobias-Fear To Drive:

Scared to drive, normally due to having had a car accident. Defined as an intense and persistent fear of driving.

Real life treatment is really hard because the person can feel embarrassed and feel they are being judged when they practice in public. This is also dangerous for themselves and the public. This causes more panic and distress.

South African psychologist James Taylor developed what he called ‘graduated exposure therapy’ in the 1950s. This cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) used 2D images and sessions with a specialist.

Since the 1990s virtual reality has been used. Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) treats phobias using technology. Also known as virtual reality exposure therapy.

Driving Simulator Used.

Consoles have a dashboard, steering wheel and a monitor, which displays driving images, for example busy road or motorway. The person uses the console to drive along the road. Normally one hour sessions every week over a period of time. They go through controlled driving scenarios, which are repeated till they feel comfortable. Can also use a headset.

This desentisizes driving fears.

Positives and Negatives:

The idea is to teach the emotional part of the brain that your fear is not associated with any real threat.

Virtual therapy works because of the way the brain is activated in phobics when they are placed in a simulated environment. They instantly look for points, which cause their fears and this then provides the corrective learning experience.

The negative side of virtual reality therapy is if there is a fear for a specific phobia, eg driving down a particular area. The person may overcome their fears for driving elsewhere but would still be unable to drive down the area they fear most. Equipment is also expensive.


The Future of Phobia Treatment

Phobia treatment is not available on the NHS.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a powerful new technology for studying patterns of brain activity. fMRI looks at blood flow in the brain to detect areas of activity. Combining fMRI with virtual reality scenarios provides experts with instant feedback as to how successful the virtual environment has been to treat phobias. This will allow for more effective and appropriate treatment in the future.

Virtual reality equipment has always been very expensive and therefore research into treatments have not been so forthcoming. The important factor driving down the cost of VR gear is the rise of smartphones, which dramatically lowered prices for components such as gyroscopes, accelerometers and magnetometer which when combined together accurately track the headset across all three dimensions of three-dimensionality and create a very immersive environment. These lower prices should help experts with more research to provide better treatment for phobia patients.



Application use for VR – Phobias – 27/02/2016


VR and Phobias

Virtual reality allows the participant to be immersed in an environment interacting within that environment. This allows the user to directly exercise control over the environment (Minsky 1997 p.94) Virtual reality has been used in many applications for example, military, education and health care. One example is in the treatments of phobias. Previously cognitive-behavioural therapy was used but now anxiety disorders or the fear of something can be alleviated using virtual or augmented reality. Immersing the patient into the virtual environment they are fearful of and controlling the amount of exposure they receive has proved successful in overcoming phobias. This is also because they are experiencing their fear in privacy and not a public place.

Seidel, J and Chatelier,P  (1995) Virtual Reality’s Training’s Future? Plenum Press: New York.

Virtual realitys training’s future?  Plenum Press New York.