So what actually is “Virtual Reality”?

These days there is a lot of talk everywhere about “virtual” events. The current scourge of COVID-19 has forced humanity to separate and practice “social distancing” in order to avoid spreading the virus.

All sorts of endeavors involving gatherings of 2 or more individuals have been replaced by “virtual” alternatives. We are seeing the rise of virtual meetings, virtual classes, virtual boat shows, virtual real estate showings, “walk thrus” and all sorts of virtual “tours”. Mostly all of this is referring to forms of “Virtual Reality” (VR) or the use of various digital media to substitute for people coming together in groups to do business, socialize, learn, be entertained, view products or locations, and govern. Wikipedia defines it as: “Virtual reality is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality can include entertainment and educational purposes. Other, distinct types of VR style technology include augmented reality and mixed reality.” The most elegant forms of VR most closely simulate the experience of actually “being there”.

The media used can include: conventional video, 360 video, 3D video, drone video, live television, live streamed video, photography, “Ken Burns effect” slides, 360 photography, 3D photography, drone photography, stereo and surround audio, live and podcast audio, animation, and all kinds of creative combinations of them. The resulting VR created varies vastly in its effectiveness based upon the media used and how it is assembled. Media can be linked together in a space and time integrated framework to create a “tour” with interactive navigation through it.

The term “Virtual” has become a catch all buzzword for everything from a flat 2D passively viewed slide show to a narrated video “walk thru”, to a Facetime live showing, to a full 360 3D video with multi-channel surround sound. In our opinion a true VR experience should be fully interactive and viewer controlled. A video of a sales agent walking around a home or a yacht making a sales pitch to his captive audience is not “virtual” anything. It’s a movie.

All of our creations are fully interactive and viewer controlled mostly based on 360 spherical imagery. But we find that there is a big learning curve on the part of viewers understanding what they are participating in and how to interact effectively with the media to have the full VR experience. That will be another subject to come. No doubt VR in the form of virtual tours will be playing a bigger role in providing COVID-19 safe viewings of real estate properties, yachts, luxury automobiles, and aircraft for sale in the near future.


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