This 3D VR Video Explains the Fascinating Math behind Virtual Reality

Snell's law, trigonometry, parallax, and angles of refractions? Watch the video to find out how math helps make VR a reality.
Farah Saleem

You've probably heard of VR by now, as it's slowly becoming mainstream. 

YouTube channel Socratica, created by Caltech grads, Kimberly and Michael Harrison is chock full of great educational videos, for all ages. 

In this video, the mathematics behind virtual reality is explained. The great thing about this particular video is that it's a 3D VR180 video, meaning if you are watching it on YouTube or its App, you can actually see the video in 3D! On a regular computer, by clicking on the controls at the top-left corner, you can move the screen up or down, left or right to experience the 3D environment! Also, if you've got some other suitable device that can see videos in 3D, this is possible too! And, of course, if you happen to have a VR headset handy, then the full VR effects can be viewed!

The important thing for 3D environments is the x, y, and z coordinates. The video starts with explaining the optics required for VR cameras and Snell's law, from which engineers were able to record an entire hemisphere. 

It goes on to explain the creation of the fisheye lens — they bend the curved hemisphere onto the camera's flat sensor, but with distortions. This distortion, which Kimberly says is a very old problem, also has a math theorem — called Theorema Egregium or 'Remarkable theorem' in Latin — involved.

Taking a curved surface such as the Earth and making it project flat on paper, accurately and without distortions — Is that even possible? 

What about the fisheye lens? For virtual reality, you'll need two fisheye lens, one each for our two eyes. What about that problem of distortions? What about the problem of depth that we experience in real life? 

You'll just have to watch this great educational video to find out more! 

If you've ever wondered about how VR technology works, then this is the video for you! They've also got videos explaining the science and technology behind VR. 

Check it out! You can learn something new, every day! 

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