Virtual Reality Guide 2017-07-13T16:32:43+00:00

Free Virtual Reality Guide and Resources

How Virtual Reality Works

Virtual reality works by tricking our visual perception into viewing two dimensional images as a three dimensional environment.  This is accomplished through stereoscopic display, which allows a user to become immersed in a digital environment.   Although stereoscopic display will trick our visual perception, virtual reality can also include components of several other senses including hearing and touch.

The way stereoscopic display works is by displaying two separate views (one for the left eye and one for the right eye) that display the same 3d environment at different angles, which creates an illusion of depth.


While each type of VR headset uses the same basic technology in terms of stereoscopic display, there are a few different ways that the headsets are structured/ connected to content.

On the lower end are basic headsets like Google Cardboard which is basically a way to hold a smart phone as a headset.  These headsets are not connected to a computer, only an app on a smartphone.  These VR headsets range from cardboard to a higher end Samsung VR.

The higher end VR headsets, like Oculus Rift and HTC Vice are attached directly to a CPU.  This type of computing requires some more powerful than normal CPU specs.  It’s good to have a great graphics card and at least 32 gigs of memory.


Often, VR sets come with hand held controllers to simulate arm movement, and to control a users movement through a virtual 3d environment.

Samsung VR Controller

Oculus Controller

Playstation VR Controller

VR Challenges:

Price: Today, virtual reality headsets and hardware are still at a high price point for mass adoption, but there currently a growth in usage of , access to, and applications of virtual reality technology.

Cyber Sickness: Also, there are many people that become nauseous from experiencing virtual reality.  This is given the name “cyber sickness” and it typically caused by an incongruent frame rate and refresh rate.  The frame rate is measured in “frames per second”, or FPS, and the refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz).  If the refresh rate is not high enough, the virtual reality set will be unable to display the full number of frames per second causing undesirable outcomes such as “tearing”, which is when digital 3d objects are distorted along the x-axis.

VR Applications

Architectural Visualization

Physical models, floor plans, drawings, diagrams all have the same intent.  They are meant to describe and illustrate a space or a building that doesn’t exist yet.  Virtual reality for architects serves two primary functions.  One, it can be used as a design tool to experience a space and iterate based on a “walk through”.  Secondly, it can be a client facing tool – to allow the client the ability to engage with the space and give feedback.


In 2015, Dior made a custom virtual reality headset.  The headset, which features holophonic audio was introduced in retail stores as “Dior Eyes”.  For the launch, Dior created a virtual backstage experience in which users could be transported to the sights and sounds for the backstage of the fashion show.

Real Estate

Real estate brokers and developers have been consistently using new visualization tools to sell property to prospective clients.  Previously, renderings would be hand drawn on drafting tables.  Today, we see more glossy photo realistic renderings of spaces which allow potential buyers to view spaces that have not been built yet.  It’s easy to see why the real estate community is exploring virtual reality seriously.  Now not only can you see a rendered image from a specific vantage point, but you can walk around a simulated virtual apartment.


Gaming was one of the first applications for 3d printing.  In the world of gaming, virtual reality is huge.  Since game designers have been designing virtual worlds, there has been a desire to engage with games in an immersive way.  The virtual-reality market is projected to grow to more than $162 billion in 2020, from $5.2 billion in 2016, driven largely by gaming consoles and mobile virtual-reality headsets and experiences, according to IDC, a research firm.

Workplace and Safety Simulations

Virtual Reality is being used in workplace simulations to train dangerous or risky tasks, or even banal tasks like handling a busy shopping period at Walmart.  Workplace simulations in training can measurably reduce the frequency and severity of work-related injuries.

Advertising and Events

Virtual reality has begun to be used widely in advertising applications (specifically, experiential marketing).  When advertisers create physical pop ups or branded events, virtual reality is increasingly been used as a method of engaging with a consumer audience.  In the image above, creative agency MKG created a virtual reality hiking simulation as part of a branded activation for a hiking shoe company.

Medicine & Therapy

Virtual Reality has been used to treat PTSD in military patients and is used to simulate mock surgery.  Another application is known as “distraction therapy” which allows physical therapy patients to immerse themselves in distracting games in simulations which can be as effective as opioid pain killers.

Virtual reality apps can simulate social environments for children with autism and experience social environments to learn social cues and can simulate surgery for surgeons with 3d data from CAT scans.

Film and Entertainment

Of course immersive ways to display content and environments is going to be used in film/ movies.  This is an exciting way to capture an audiences attention in a new way.  Several film companies are catering to this niche vertical which will undoubtedly become more ubiquitous in the coming years.

“Virtual reality is not in my mind just an extension of cinema, it is its own thing and we have to discover so much about what are the tools in our toolbox,” Darnell said at the film’s screening. It really is just a brand new language.” – Madagascar co-director Eric Darnell

VR Hardware

Google Cardboard

Cost: $15

Google Daydream

Cost: $79

Oculus Rift

Cost: $495

Samsung Gear VR

Cost: $99

HTC Vive

Cost: $799

Sony Playstation VR

Cost: $379

Mixed Reality

An immersive virtual experience doesn’t necessarily have to come from a headset or a controller.  Mixed reality is a hybrid of real world interactions and virtual reality.  In this example, experiential advertising agency Momentum Worldwide developed an immersive mixed reality environment that allowed an immersive experience for spectators to feel like the pros walking out to the US Open.

VR Digital Environments

Digitizing Real World Objects

Motion Capture

To digitize real world movements, objects, and people for use in virtual reality simulations, motion capture is often used.  This method of recording an athlete or actors movements has been used frequently in animation, film, and CG movies.  However, motion capture is increasingly being used for VR applications.

3D Files for Creating Virtual Reality Environments

Files uploaded to Sketchfab are able to be viewed with a virtual reality headset

Make VR allows users to intuitively model 3d geometry in virtual reality

Tilt Brush by Google allows users to create vivid three dimensional paintings.  Oculus also has a painting tool called “Quill”.

Goro Fujita makes immersive digital paintings with Oculus Quill.

Fashion Design in VR

Google Tilt has been used for fashion design applications.

(cont.) Fashion Design in Virtual Reality

VR Companies in NYC

VR Platforms/ Software

VR Creative Studios