A Brief Insight into How VR Headsets Work

Technology has become an integral part of our society. That’s why as it improves, so do our lives. One proof of this is the development of virtual reality headsets. This device is currently being used for entertainment purposes and other industries as well. If you want to learn more about this, be sure to finish this article.

VR Headset Key Components

The most used type of VR headset is the tethered VR because of its powerful processors and its ability to deliver real-time display. To be able to use a tethered VR headset, you need to have the following key components to make it work:

Personal Computer

The content of the virtual world is very important since it is the simulation you are going to explore or dive into. To be able to do this, you’re going to need a personal computer or a console that can power the three-dimensional environments of a VR system. On the other hand, some virtual reality displays do not need a headset anymore since smartphones are now equipped with motion tracking. This is why virtual reality is also used to create 3-D product images for eCommerce for a more immersive online shopping experience.

Head-mounted Display

The head-mounted display (HMD) or VR headset is where the display from one’s PC or console is fed through. This headset usually covers the user’s entire field of vision to give the illusion of totally being in a different world.

Input Devices

Aside from the head-mounted display that gives you the perspective of a different reality, a completely immersive experience must allow you to interact with this world. This is where the input devices become very important. These are handheld devices that allow you to navigate and modify the surroundings of a VR environment.

How Does a VR Headset Work?


We already know that for a VR headset to work, it must be plugged into a personal computer that can power the three-dimensional environment of the VR system. However, what we do not know yet are the features that make a VR headset unique. Don’t worry. We’ve got that covered as well.

Head Tracking

This is what allows you to view the environment in three dimensions. This means that when you look up, down, or sideways, the view in front of you also shifts according to the direction of your head.

For this to happen, a system called 6DoF, or Six Degrees of Freedom, tracks the position of your head according to its X, Y, and Z axes while measuring the movements of your head forward, backward, and sideways.

The internal component that processes all of these may differ from one manufacturer to another. Some use a built-in gyroscope, while others use an accelerometer or magnetometer. This process of head tracking is vital to your overall experience. A delay of at least 50 milliseconds will cause a lag and maybe even distort the virtual reality’s environment.

Motion Tracking

One of the very first things you would probably do in a virtual world is to look down and see what your hands look like in a simulation. The development of this feature is still ongoing, and only a few manufacturers have been able to include motion tracking into their VR systems.

One way of being able to track the motion of the user is by using a set of wireless, handheld controllers. This gives you the feeling of using your own hands in the simulation. These controllers would often have a set of buttons and thumbsticks to allow you to interact with the virtual world. A series of sensors is also usually installed on the controllers to detect even the smallest gestures like waving or pointing.

However, while the development of motion tracking is still ongoing, you can use other console controllers from Xbox or PlayStation and hook it up to your PC to interact with the VR environment.

Eye Tracking

Perhaps the cherry on top of the VR world, the eye-tracking feature allows for the precise reaction of in-game characters (knowing where you’re looking) as well as makes virtual reality feel as real as it can possibly get. Although still in its early formative years, it offers promising growth in the VR community.

A sensor inside the headset monitors the movement of your eyes and gives better attention and focus on the environment, items, or characters that are in your field of vision. This feature allows the VR display to work as if it’s an actual human eye, giving the last bit of realistic touch to the VR environment.

A virtual reality headset may seem like it’s something straight out of a sci-fi movie, but it only really takes a few moments to help you understand how they work. The next time you see or purchase one, learning about its different functions would help you maximize its capabilities.

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“Right now, computers make our lives easier. They do work for us in fractions of a second that would take us hours. […] As things progress, they’ll be doing more and more for us.”
Steve Jobs
co-founder of Apple Inc. and founder of NeXT
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