Monday, May 1, 2017

Art, Entertainment and Innovation for Society: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Art, Entertainment and Innovation for Society: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Gaurav Chaudhary
Assistant Professor, Department of Animation and Multimedia, BIT, Jaipur Campus, Email:

Every form of Visual Art carries an expression of the artist, and it generates a response in the viewer, which can be described by a mere emotion or a complete experience of realizing an entirely new perspective towards the subject depicted in the art. In the past few decades, with the growth of Digital Art & Animation, the visual art has become more immersive and enriching for the society. New interactive media and new platforms of storytelling have changed the face of Art & the Entertainment industry, and created new platforms for empowering the modern human society in different areas like Education, Hospitality, Medical Science, etc.  
The latest developments that have opened new possibilities in the expression and experience of visual art are VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality). Both are closely related yet different. Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. It may have popped into the headlines only in the past few years, but its roots reach back more than five decades. Earlier used in flight simulators and scientific visualizations, and then slowly in Games and movies, VR is now being used in many other areas. For e.g., Google Tilt brush, used for Painting and Sculpting. It has the potential to completely change the way art is created and experienced. Augmented reality is the fusion of virtual reality and real life, in which developers can create images within applications that mix in with contents in the real world. The 'Sternglas Alpha' star gazing binoculars are a good example of AR. They let users to explore the night sky using AR to see the constellation and planet names without having to view them through a screen. Some VR programs are also used for spiritual healing and well being.
This study is concentrated on exploring the scope and use of VR and AR in different fields for social equity & empowerment.
Virtual Reality is a computer-based technology, in which specialized input and output devices are incorporated to allow the user to interact with and experience an artificial environment as if it were the real world. VR can be in the form of simple environments presented on desktop computer as well as fully immersive  multi-dimensional environments experienced through complex headgear and bodysuits. It is basically a way of simulating or imitating an environment and giving the user a sense of being there. Earlier used in flight simulators and scientific visualizations, and then slowly in Games and movies, it is now being used in many other areas. There is a range of academic research of VR through to engineering, design, business, the arts and entertainment which was realized in the recent past.
VR actually originated in the second half of the 1960s with the Head Mounted Display (HMD) as the first device that provided immersive experiences with computer generated images. The HMD technology became commercially available 20 years later in 1989, after the extensive development at NASA and the Department of Defense. Scientists wanted interactivity, so did the military, industry, business, and entertainment. The increasing demand for interactivity pushed computer visualization to the limits, towards virtual reality.
My approach towards this research has been practical and innovative. While studying the available literature, and the technology, I discussed the doubts and views with some of the successful researchers and artists in the industry. I have arranged a library of videos, which include short films, interviews and demonstrations of this technology. Till now, I have managed to review some of the artists and their work, but there is a long way to go. I shall continue the research further with the best available resources. Broadly, there are following sources of data collection and research:
Primary Data Collection:
- Observation of the technology at places where I travel.
- Interviewing the people, artists personally or through online Internet resources.
- Questionnaires for artists.
Secondary Data Collection:
- Journals
- Articles
- Websites and Blogs
- Research Papers and Documentations.
Using a virtual reality device gives a surreal experience of traveling through space and time without actually moving from the place. One feels completely disconnected from the body and yet still bound to the pounding heart as one virtually travels down a mountain or shoot into space. Devices like the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR are available for developers and VR fans, while those looking for a low-budget alternative have Google Cardboard.
But so far, the bulk of work of VR has mainly been focused on gaming. It's easy to understand why, since gamers often seek the most immersive experience possible. But there are many uses for this technology that go far beyond gaming. Mark Zuckerberg, spent $2 billion on Oculus VR in the hopes that we will one day experience social media through VR, and its results are already visible on Facebook.

Amazing Applications of VR & AR:

· Virtual Tourism

Though Virtual tourism can be life changing but it lacks the sensory and social components of travel. Someone with locked-in syndrome, ALS, or similarly limiting conditions can experience distant locations through Virtual Tours. Those planning a vacation, meanwhile, can use VR to get a sense of where they'd like to go and what they would like to see when they get there. British Columbia made "The Wild Within" so that adventurers could get a feel for the Canadian wilderness. And Marriott invited customers in eight cities to virtually travel to London or Hawaii with the Oculus Rift.

· Virtual Museums

Museum and gallery may seem like a boring experience for children, which make it difficult to develop interest for the same. VR entertainment has changed that perception and opened up these spaces to a new audience. This can encourage more people to visit and develop an interest towards heritage sites such as museums.
· Galleries
Interactive galleries have become popular in creative as well as technical education. Engaging 3-D experience allows students to experience whatever they’re studying firsthand and manipulate virtual objects. Universities to help students to access their courses online at anytime use the smartphones, tablets, laptops etc.
· Theatre
Some theatre productions are aimed to use virtual reality technologies not to stimulate reality but to achieve engagement of the audience. They do so by immersing the participant through engaging story telling. The art and practice of immersing a theatre audience within a fictional world is well depicted through plays like The Adding Machine, Wings, and Tesla Electric. On April 18, 1995 the University Theatre of the University of Kansas brought live theatre to cyberspace through the use of "virtual reality" in a fully mounted theatrical production, which was based on Elmer Rice's  ‘The Adding Machine’.
· Virtual Theme Parks
Computer generated sights and sounds that surround users, it will soon transport park goers to places impossible to build. Virtual reality entertainment can create spaces that are too elaborate or fantastical to construct in real. It gives us an ease to create supernatural and panoramic characters.
· Music VR Experience
Music is a game changer. If your sound isn’t at par, then the whole project can fall flat.
Soon you will be able to strap on a headset and spend a day immersed in the life of almost anyone on earth. You can wear a pair of virtual reality goggles and witness the unbelievable experience. The experiments with VR experience in music have been quite promising. I have been involved in few such experiments with students, and the results are quite amazing.
· Virtual Reality For Guided Meditation
Technology, often shunned as a distraction from the practice of meditation, offers us new alternatives. Guided meditation can now be much more immersive than simply putting on a pair of headphones and closing your eyes. There was a time when Virtual reality was not only expensive but complicated as well, but with recent advancement its more affordable and simple. Virtual reality headsets powered by a smartphone are now available. Apps have been created for guided and mindful meditation.
· Augmented Reality For Medical Treatments
Augmented reality is now being used in the medical field for diagnosis and surgical treatment. For example in the display of acquired data from ultrasound, superimposed over the live patient, or to facilitate minimally invasive operations such as fine needle biopsies, and laparoscopic surgeries

Visualization of complicated, large data is helpful for understanding and analysis.
VR is playing an important role in making the analysis simpler and more efficient. This technology offers us new ways to interact with computers. It enables us to experience the virtual world that is impossible in real world. It has now entered new domains other than just entertainment.
There are some challenges and things to look forward to. Currently the devices are not super efficient and user friendly.  Problems of Cybersickness / simulator sickness, Low-fidelity, Expensive Devices, Lack of integration between application packages are yet to be solved. It is required to develop a High-fidelity system that is Cost-saving, Collaborative and provides High-level contact between participants in distributed VR.
Virtual reality will just not be a bygone technology it is here to stay and affect our day-to-day life in the near future.


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