Currently in the VR world, there are three types of realities you need to know. Here are the basic definitions and an example of each:
It seems simple, but the answer, “I want to reach everyone,” won’t really apply here. There are certain deployment methods for what type of VR/AR/MR application you want to create, and there are certain products you may need. You have to consider what platform you're going to deploy on: mobile, gaming console, Mac/PC, web or headset-specific. Each option will have its own advantages and disadvantages.
A Head-Mounted Display (HMD) is what brings a user into your VR world. There are different variations of HMDs and various price points. Some use external hardware such as a smartphone or a computer while others are fully integrated and have no cords or external processing.
Generally, HMDs only provide a small amount of variation in input the user can provide. The main two are gazing and a single “touch.” Although this is good for some applications, you'll generally be inclined to say, “I wish I could use my hands.” That's where some of these secondary input accessories come in. Single/dual controllers, external sensor tracking and full-body controllers are a few examples. Some are HMD-specific while others are cross-compatible. When you find an HMD you want to use, find out what controllers it supports.
I wanted to break digital assets out on its own because they're something you need to think about as a separate piece to your application. Digital assets are referred to as the models, objects, photos, textures and other items being used by the 3D engine to render your world or app. Because we're more than likely designing the application in a 3D space, you'll need 3D objects that the 3D engines can read and manipulate. At some point, you'll need things like a 360-degree camera, a 3D artistor an asset collection online.
Now that you have an idea of what VR/AR/MR is and what hardware you may need, it's time to talk about the software and how you'll develop your application. There are many tools out there, so you'll need to find out which tool(s) will be best for you. The tools are generally defined by what you want to accomplish and which space you want to develop for, be it AR, VR or the MR/HR space. As an example, here's what we chose in developing a VR application that had equi-rectangular photos:
There are a few things you need to consider before you get all ramped up developing your application. When sending users to a different world and messing with people’s senses, people actually experience motion sickness, hand-eye coordination loss, eye strain, nausea and other symptoms. But it's not all doom and gloom. We can fix or adjust a few things here or there to make the experience more pleasurable. Things such as anti-aliasing, avoiding lag, avoiding awkward head positions and using a frame of reference will help users avoid issues.
Finally, check everything that's out there in the world right now. Many “showcase” applications show great uses of VR/AR/MR and, since the space has no best practices yet, the world is completely open to creativity. There are a million use cases for VR, from hospital settings to promote meditation and relaxation, to creating a new type of social network. The sky really is the limit for the space and now is the time to jump in.