A Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Reality

March 20, 2015 9:09 PM

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A Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Reality

VIRTUAL REALITY might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but if you’ve ever played with a ViewMaster, you already have a sense of what this technology is like. With the classic toy, you’d peer into the plastic viewer and see 3-D photographs of far away locales, ranging from cosmopolitan London to the African Savanna. Virtual reality—or VR—is similar but more immersive. A 3-D moving image fills more of your field of vision, and it’s interactive, not static: Turn your head to the left, and the entire view, say, of the Golden Gate Bridge, shifts so you can see what’s to the side. Do an about face, and your point-of-view spins to reveal what’s behind you.

Although this is all pretty high-tech, VR is going mainstream, fast. Last year, Facebook purchased the virtual-reality startup Oculus VR for $2 billion. And getting a taste of virtual reality no longer requires expensive equipment. In fact, all you need is a smartphone, a few key apps and one of the...

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