Interested in learning more about virtual reality (VR) but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, it’s a complex field that is constantly evolving. Virtual reality technology has been around for a surprisingly long time. Some trace its foundation back to the 1860s[1], but VR as we know it today didn’t gain much notoriety until somewhere between the 1980s and 1990s.[2] Even with that lengthy history, virtual reality has only recently become widely available to everyone. Thanks to companies that have developed less expensive headsets and exciting content, more people are clamoring to try out virtual reality. Here are a few ways you can use the latest tech on your own.


How to Use VR with Photos

You’ve probably seen this technique if you use Facebook. People have started to upload photos that you can virtually “explore” either by tilting your phone or clicking and dragging the cursor on your computer. Want to get in on the action? The Edublogger has an amazing guide to getting the best virtual reality (or 360°) photos using a few easy apps. They recommend that you get started using these apps first, “The easiest way to get started is using Google Street View (available for Android and iOS) on your smartphone.  You can also use photo sphere mode in the stock Android camera or surround shot mode on Samsung phones”[3] See how simple it is? You can use the tech you probably already have and download an inexpensive app to get an immersive photography experience. Words of caution, anyone you talk to who has tried out 360° photos will recommend starting out with stationary objects first. People move around and it can create a pretty weird result. If you have ever tried the panoramic function using your phone’s camera, then you probably know about that issue. Practice makes perfect!


How to User VR with Videos

Grab some Google Cardboard headsets and get to making VR videos! Obviously, a virtual reality video is going to be a bit more complex than taking a photo. However, the result when it’s done correctly makes the effort totally worth it. Inverse explains that the technology also isn’t perfect just yet when you use apps like Splash to make VR videos, “…you’re essentially taking a bunch of videos that are stitched together to create a larger 360-degree video tapestry.”[4]  Once you make a video you love, you’ll be able to share it far and wide since platforms like YouTube now support VR videos on their platform.


How to Use VR for Business

If you are interested in incorporating virtual reality into your business, then you might want to consider making an app. While it’s a bit more involved than taking a photo or making a video, apps can be a great way to show off your business and tech savvy to new and potential customers. For this type of project, it is best to consult with a VR expert to make sure you really nail the execution. If you are looking for inspiration, then Wareable has a great list for you: Best Google Cardboard apps: 26 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset. Check out what other companies are doing, and maybe you’ll come up with a great application of VR for your business!


What About AR?

So far, this post has been mainly about virtual reality, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Augmented reality (AR) is another exciting type of technology that needs to be discussed. First, it’s important to know the distinction between the two types of tech. Vincent Chen makes the distinction easy in his blog post, How to Get into VR, when he writes, “VR can be used to simulate training for surgeons, while AR can be used to superimpose instructions and diagnostics on a live view in real-time surgeries.”[5] In VR you are immersed in the virtual world, while in augmented reality the world you are currently in is altered.

Mashable recently reviewed the ZapWorks tool, raving that it can be a huge help when creating your own AR content, “The tools are designed to allow anyone from a classroom of young children to experienced developers to bring their world to life in new and exciting ways — opening up a completely new way for us to learn and experiment with tech.”[6] Tools like this can help make augmented reality more ubiquitous, and allow a younger generation to get exposure to creative ways to use technology.


Play Around!

Those are just a few tips and tricks to incorporating the latest technology into your everyday life. As time and research progresses, you are certain to see more innovative and fun uses for both VR and AR technologies. Remember, if you are planning to invest in using these types of tech, do your research and work with experts to ensure you get it right. Utilizing these technologies can be a huge boost to your personal and professional image, so you want to be sure you’re making the most of the tech.


What uses have you found for AR and VR? Any tips you want to share with others seeking to incorporate these exciting new platforms into their lives? Share your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear from other VR and AR enthusiasts!