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What is VR, and What Does Virtual Reality Stand for – Ultimate Guide

Author: Alex Dzyuba, Lucid Reality Labs Founder & CEO

Table of Contents

The concept of Virtual Reality (VR) has been around for over four decades already. Since then, technology has progressed significantly over this duration of time. Even though it can already be considered well-known, many users still ask questions like – “What is VR?” and “What does VR stand for?”. To answer these questions comprehensively, let’s first look into the actual VR definition.

Virtual Reality is a technology that enables the creation of immersive, experiential, interactive 3-dimensional digital environments that simulate real-world experiences, providing users with a sense of presence and immersion that makes it feel as though the user is present in a virtual environment.

To make this immersion possible, the creation of a Virtual Reality incorporates software and hardware sides, regardless of the purpose of the experience, be it for healthcare, pharma, education, aerospace, or defense.

The critical components of fully immersive VR technology include a couple of parts. Starting from a Head-mounted display (HMD) or otherwise, a VR headset acting as a medium for the virtual world, the input devices such as hand-held controller, gloves, or hand-tracking technology that provide sensory feedback and enable interactions and sensory input and the software behind the built virtual environment. Before we dive deeper into VR, let’s first look at the hardware element of the technology.

What is a VR Headset?

A VR headset definition could be shaped as follows – a VR headset is a head-mounted display that enables the user to submerge into the 3-dimensional virtual experience and interact with the artificially created environment from a first-person perspective in a complete digital setting.

Every year, we see more and more VR headsets coming to the market, with countless competitors striving to shift the VR consumer demand their way. This is no surprise, as the global headset market size was already valued at 7.81 billion in 2020 and is expected to accelerate rapidly, at 28,2% CARG by 2028.

Today, there are already countless VR headsets like Meta Quest Pro, HTC Vive Pro 2, Pico Neo 4, and Sony PS5 VR2. So, “What is the best VR headset?” one might ask. The answer is not as straightforward as each headset comes with its capabilities and form factor. Thus, selecting the best headset depends solely on the required type of VR experience the user wishes to have developed.

Varjo headset
Image Source: Varjo

Types of VR

One can split VR into the following three types – the fully immersive, the semi-immersive, and the non-immersive. Where a fully immersive VR experience is typically achieved through a VR headset and allows users to interact with it, the best example here would be a medical VR simulation. The semi-immersive VR experience is where the user can submerge into a virtual environment; however, without the possibility to interact with it, often used for visualizations and walk-thoughts, the Instrumentation Laboratory HemoCell in VR is an excellent example. Last is the non-immersive VR experience, which allows access to a virtual environment through non-immersive hardware like desktop or mobile-based access points. In the previous case, the mobile and desktop accessibility of the VR Immersive Education Platform is a great example.

While we mention the three types of VR experience, purely name-based, it is often possible to confuse it with other technology like Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), or even Extended Reality (XR). Let’s briefly establish these definitions to help understand the AR, MR, and XR definition and their difference in comparison to VR. Simply put, XR is the umbrella term for all three technologies: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality. While AR is a digital overlay of real-world environments, MR can also be considered a digital overlay. However, the main difference lies in Mixed Reality technology capabilities that enable users to experience more advanced interactions with the experience.

Difference Between VR and XR

XR is a term that encompasses all immersive technologies, including VR, AR, and MR. While VR is a subset of XR, the two have some key differences. VR is a type of XR that creates an entirely artificial environment, while XR encompasses a broader range of immersive technologies that combine the real world with digital information. XR experiences can be accessed through various devices, while VR requires specialized equipment.

Difference Between VR and AR

VR and AR are immersive technologies that allow users to interact with digital environments differently. While they share some similarities, they also have some fundamental differences. VR creates a fully immersive digital environment, while AR overlays digital information on top of the real world. VR completely replaces the user’s real-world environment, while AR enhances it.

Difference Between VR and MR

VR and MR are two different technologies that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. The main difference between VR and MR is that VR is an entirely virtual environment. At the same time, MR is a blend of real and virtual elements, allowing users to interact with both simultaneously.

AR and VR Solutions Across Industries

Of all three XR technologies, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have become popular in recent years, with businesses and organizations looking for new and innovative ways to engage with customers and clients. While Mixed Reality is growing in adaptation, these two are already widely implemented in various industries. AR and VR technologies are used in multiple sectors to provide immersive and interactive experiences. AR and VR industries predominantly include Healthcare, Pharma, Education and Training, Automotive, Manufacturing, Architecture and Engineering, Retail and E-commerce, Production, and many more.

They can provide realistic and immersive training and immersive learning experiences, create engaging customer experiences, improve production efficiency, and much more. Implementation of AR and VR in different industries has the potential to revolutionize many businesses by providing immersive experiences that can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance customer engagement.

If a couple of years back, Virtual and Augmented Reality were used more as a gimmick, today, numerous research studies are being published on the actual advantages of its adaptations by the industries. Every new software and hardware advancement will allow the unraveling of more benefits of the immersive capabilities these technologies can deliver.

VR Warnings

There are potential risks associated with using VR technology. Among possible harms of VR are motion sickness, eye strain, and other physical discomforts. Poorly created VR UI/UX design can result in simulation-induced motion sickness, causing physical reactions like nausea, dizziness, headaches, and eyestrain, leading to confusion or fainting. Thus, an impeccable UI/UX design correlates to a seamless and enjoyable experience for the user, helping maintain the user’s sense of immersion and comfort.

Among these concerns, users might express is “Does VR harm eyes?”. No conclusive evidence suggests that using Virtual Reality technology harms the eyes long-term. It is, however, worth noting that VR may not be suitable for everyone.

Is VR the Future?

Without a doubt, VR has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with technology and the world around us, and it’s likely to play an essential role in the future. VR technology has made significant progress in recent years, developing high-quality headsets, motion-tracking systems, and interactive controllers.

However, some challenges must be addressed before VR can become mainstream. One of the most significant barriers is the cost of the technology, as high-quality VR equipment can be expensive for consumers. In addition, some people may experience motion sickness or other forms of discomfort while using VR, which could limit its adoption. Thus, the future of VR technology and its vast adaptation would rely strongly on the future VR headsets as one of the key pillars, their capabilities, their form factor, and their price. While VR can potentially be a significant part of the future, it’s difficult to say whether it will be the dominant technology.


VR is steadily becoming the go-to technology for many industries. However, more time will be required for the concept to be fully grasped and comprehended by users worldwide. As the technology continues to improve, we can expect to see even more innovative applications in the future and have more users build a deeper understanding of the tech itself.

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