What Is Semi Immersive Virtual Reality

What is semi-immersive virtual reality and how does it differ from mixed virtual reality. Let's check it out

Semi-immersive virtual reality (SIVR) is a form of virtual reality that offers the user some, but not all, trappings of total VR immersion inside a VR headset.

Users can interact with their surroundings and feel like they are completely immersed in the virtual world displayed before them, but they do not lose sight of the real-life environment around them.

How Does Semi Immersive VR Work?

Semi immersive VR works by relying:

  • Good computer
  • Close to real world controllers such as yoke, joystick, lever, steering wheel
  • Good room setup 
  • Good lighting setup to mimic the real world experience

This allows users the chance to simultaneously enjoy virtual reality while still sitting in their real-life office, home, or wherever they may be. This is different than mixed reality (MR), which shares some characteristics with semi-immersive mixed reality but isn't quite the same.

Semi VR Examples

racing car simulator

This would be the earliest semi VR experience at an arcade game room

  • A classic example we can give is a home cockpit for a flight simulator without the use of a VR headset. The user builds a close to 1:1 scale cockpit with interactive switches, then synch it with multiple screen display.
  • Real estate virtual tour where the user can move around without any physical or any active presence feeling like they are in the digital environment.
  • Arcade games or professional simulator with haptic feedback
  • High end professional military hardware simulators used to qualify operator before sending them to an operational unit

SIVR was developed primarily for the business sector, to allow users to collaborate on projects without having to be in the same room. Simulation training for the military, space flight and many more are the main users of semi VR.

home cockpit airbus

Home Airbus Cockpit 

ICBM MPT simulator

ICBM Missile Procedure Simulator

The mixed reality environment created by mixed reality software is similar but does not feature all of the elements of SIVR. While MR also allows for interaction between two or more remote users, it doesn't provide full immersion along with it.

How Semi VR Differ From Mixed VR

So far mixed virtual reality headset technology isn't as mature as fully immersive VR. Mixed reality can mask out a particular part of the display screen to show your own physical hands interacting with a real-world object. Meanwhile, the tracking has to be perfect to make a mixed reality environment user-friendly.

flight simulator varjo vr

Mixed Reality Varjo VR Flight Simulator

This means the user can be in VR and also pick up a physical pen or instructional booklet to look at without peeking out of the headset. It would be a seamlessly smooth experience.

mixed reality VR varjo headset

The biggest difference with MR is that the user can interact with physical objects inside the VR

  • The user is in VR
  • Can see through the VR headset and interact with switches with high precision

Currently, Varjo XR is the most cutting-edge VR technology that can do that, and it benefits the simulation training world significantly.

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