When users put on a virtual reality headset, they are immersed in a three-dimensional, computer generated environment where they can interact with their environment or perform a series of actions. –Virtual Reality Society
Whether you’re exploring artificial intelligence to use in your organization, or you’re just curious about how it works, these articles are a good place to start.
(YouTube) Virtual Reality: Explained: This video from Marques Brownlee is from 2015, so there are new headset varieties on the market now. However, his description of VR is too good to miss.
The WIRED Guide to Virtual Reality: This deep dive into VR covers everything from how it works to the history and future of VR.
What is Virtual Reality? (Virtual Reality Society): Find VR use cases, guides to buying VR headsets, expert insights, and all things VR.
(YouTube) What are Virtual and Augmented Realities?: VR and AR are sometimes confused. ColdFusion describes the similarities and differences between the two distinct technologies.
VR Solving Real-World Problems
Virtual reality has been used for community building, design visualization, training, remote team work, therapy, entertainment, pain alleviation, virtual real estate showings, and a variety of other incredible use cases.
Check out these examples and start brainstorming how VR can be used in your organization or community.
Applications of Virtual Reality: The Virtual Reality Society has gathered examples of how VR is being put to good use in every major industry.
VR for Good: Explore how Oculus is using VR to help people train for dangerous situations, assist in healthcare, and encourage empathy in storytelling.
Surgical Theater: See how VR is helping doctors train for complex surgery, helping ease patient fears by allowing them to see inside their body, and more.
- Career Exploration in VR: Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas uses TRANSFRVR to offer career exploration and simulation-based training through VR. Several competing developers exist in this space.
- Firefighter Training: FLAIM offers the world’s first immersive technology enabled firefighter training solution. The system is used in Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base Civil Engineer fire dept.
- How to Train Employees Effectively in VR (Forbes): Explore VR training use cases and best practices.
- Real Estate: VRLY allows brokerage firms to offer VR walk throughs of current listings, and home designers to create VR design renderings so clients can walk through their house before it exists.
- How VR is Changing Manufacturing (Business.com)
If you want to stay current on all things VR, follow these podcast series:
- Voices of VR Podcast: Experiential journalist Kent Bye features interviews with pioneering artists, storytellers and technologists behind virtual and augmented reality.
- Field of View Podcast: The Academy of International Extended Reality and Accenture, a leader in the field of XR offer this podcast on the bleeding edge of all things virtual and augmented reality.
- This Week in XR Podcast: Find more expert interviews in the field of augmented and virtual reality.
- ResearchVR Podcast: Learn about the neuroscience and design principles behind VR and Spatial Computing, featuring companies, founders, and researchers shaping the Immersive Tech industry.
Blogs & Newsletters
If you prefer to read your updates, follow these popular blogs/ newsletters:
- Road to VR Newsletter: Find article collections about VR hardware, design, and guest articles with tips, tricks, and all things VR. Sign up for their email newsletter to get all the latest updates.
- UploadVR Stories, YouTube channel & Podcast: UploadVR is all gaming, all the time.
- The Ghost Howls: A blog about virtual reality, startups, and updates in technology.
- Meta Blog (formerly Oculus Blog): Is it at all surprising that Oculus has a blog for all their latest and greatest games, tech updates, and featured projects?
- VRScout Tech Weekly: Subscribe to the VR & AR Scouting Report to track the latest trends.
Learn how virtual reality is designed, developed and implemented in an organization, and the team roles necessary to get the job done. This is great for business leaders trying to implement VR, or job seekers trying to decide their role in VR.
Best Practices to Design, Build & Implement VR:
Designing User Experience for VR Applications: This article in UX Planet details the process of planning and designing an optimal experience in VR for your organization.
How to Design for Virtual Reality: While this Wired guide is about five years old, much of it still holds true. The only real difference is the number of controls and features that are available to allow users to interact with the virtual environment.
VR Project Development- How Project Managers Should Prepare: Toptal provides a detailed overview of VR markets, key roles in VR development team, and potential challenges in implementation.
- Virtual Reality Development (VRVision): Get a feel for how consultants work, rather than building a VR design within an organization.
Deciphering Digital Reality: This interview of Delotte experts provides some excellent information about how to plan, design and implement digital reality into real, marketable business solutions.
- Rapid VR Protyping Without Coding in 2019 (UXDesign Collective): Learn how to rapidly prototype and test concepts in VR before investing time and money in more advanced development.
Ethics in VR: Use Tech for Good
VR is changing the way we interact with others, and understand the wider world. Data is being generated and collected in new ways while regulation surrounding data collection, use, privacy, and security are still being researched and developed. Many companies have attempted to write and enforce their own privacy and “tech for good” policies with mixed results. As a society we have yet to discover the full impact of this emerging technology on individuals, jobs, and entire industries.
Learn the basics of Ethics in VR to make informed decisions about how and when to use VR.
Indsutry review boards are needed to protext VR user privacy: The World Economic Forum describes how your personal information can fall into the wrong hands if data protection is not regulated in virtual worlds. Consider how data is collected, used and shared, and who can protect consumers if things go wrong.
Virtual Reality and Ethical Issues: The Virtual Reality Society tackles the issues of desensitization to violence, and virtual criminality. We are all still trying to tackle cyber-bullying online. What happens when cyber-bullying is amplified in a simulated virtual world?
This is Your Brain on VR: The Neuroscientist’s Perspective: Thrive Global interviews Dr. Sook-Lei Liew, an Assistant Professor and head of USC’s Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Lab. She raises some interesting questions about the potential pros and cons to implementing VR technology. There is still a lot we don’t know about VR and the brain.
Virtual Reality, Real Injuries: How to reduce physical risk in VR: This article in Science Daily describes ergonomic design for VR. We learned a lot from computer ergonomics. If you wouldn’t move that way in real life, don’t move that way in VR!
Why Does VR Make Some People Sick? Live Science describes this phenomenon and what both users and designers of VR can do to prevent it from happening.
- Female avatar sexually assaulted in Meta VR platform (BBC News): Games that encourage social interaction with few rules and regulations for interaction can encounter the same harassment and mistreatment we would in real life. Regulations and design guidelines are being reviewed and updated as we learn more about this new world.
Choose from a range of recommended apps to experience VR, and hands-on activities to try designing and build virtual worlds yourself. Whether you are exploring a career in VR, or are exploring VR for your organization, these activities can help!
Note: Many of the activities for K-12 are also great for adults!
Free VR Apps & Prototyping Tools (Adults)
Start with these apps to experiment with VR for prototyping, design, remote work, career, and business:
- Spatial.io: Build VR art galleries, interactive rooms, exhibits, showroom floors, remote work rooms, collaborative meeting spaces, and event spaces. Access through a VR headset, mobile app, or the web.
- Gravity Sketch: Create loose free form sketches, detailed models, expansive scenes, and artwork in VR. If you’re new to design in VR, start with these Beginner Gravity Sketch YouTube Tutorials.
- SpapesXR: Use this creation and collaboration platform to rapidly prototype VR experiences. Storyboard, test, and share design ideas in 3D, in real time. Use pre-made scenes, or start from scratch. Export objects to share via VR headset, the web, or as a 3D model (beta).
- TinkerCAD: While this free 3D design software is marketed towards kids, it’s great for all ages to prototype and test 3D models, the assets necessary to build immersive virtual environments. You can import objects from Thingiverse or other sites and modify them in TinkerCAD as well.
- Thingiverse: This free library of 3D models is a great place to pull objects and load them into other prototyping tools to test ideas and concepts and reducing costs overall.
- Sketchfab: This site offers a combination of free and paid 3D models. You can also view 3D models in VR on your smartphone with Google cardboard through Sketchfab. Add your own models to the site if you want.
- 360 Cities: Use this collection of stock 360 degree images and videos for advertising, virtual reality experiences, WebVR, and any creative project that can benefit from interactive media.
- CoSpacesEDU: Design and build in 3D, add animation with block-based coding or text-based scripting, then view your creations in Virtual or Augmented Reality. Free and paid versions with lesson plans are available.
- TinkerCAD Lesson Plans: Introduce 3D design for various subject areas using this free 3D design software.
- ClassVR for Schools & Districts: Designed for classroom use, these VR headsets are a great teaching tool. These headsets are an educational technology tool, not designed to teach students how to design for VR.
- Unity Education Hub for Educators: Teach your students how to create AR and VR, 2D and 3D fame development, and more. Get educator access to Unity Pro and find lesson plans, educator guides, and more.
Guided Courses for Developers
If you want to learn VR as a developer, business analyst, program manager, or executive, use these guided courses.
- Unity: Teach yourself Unity, the most popular VR development platform, with online courses and tutorials.
Check these online learning sites for current offerings on VR design, development, and business applications:
If you actually want to interact and talk with other people about VR for developers, startups, executives, or any other perspective you may be coming from, here are some options:
- Unity Community: “Join the largest community of Unity users. Creators of all types- beginner to expert, hobbyist to pro- connect here to learn, share and inspire.
- A-Frame Community: “A-Frame’s greatest strength is in enabling an ecosystem and the community of people who come together to make developing WebVR a rewarding experience.
- Deloitte Consulting: Sometimes you have an idea, but don’t want to learn how to make it yourself. Delotte is a consulting firm that can get the job done, or point you in the right direction.
Note: Deloitte is not the only VR consulting company in the world, there are many. This is just an example of a large, global brand. You might want to look closer to home first!
Learning communities come and go pretty frequently, so check Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and Reddit for active learning communities.