How do virtual reality glasses work?

Tokyo School | 01/10/2020

Virtual reality has been trying to occupy a space in our lives for years, but until technology has not allowed it, it has not been able to begin to settle. But, How do current virtual reality glasses work? What is it that has allowed Oculus, HTC, Valve or Sony to become so popular in recent years?

Over the years and the advancement of technology, virtual reality headsets have gotten smaller and smaller until they have become the goggles we all have on our heads right now. However, the operating principle of the modern reality glasses not far from those retrofuturistic helmets of the nineties.

Here we are going to explain how virtual reality glasses work, what internal components they have and how they reproduce the images to create the desired effect. We will also do a little review of how the sector is right now. A part of the video game industry in which more and more trained and qualified professionals are needed.

Virtual reality, the future of video games?

Virtual reality is a sector of the video game industry for which more and more content is produced. And as has happened on other occasions, it seems that in recent times it has been the guys at Valve, with Half Life: Alyx, who have made the most of current virtual reality technology.

This does not mean that video games as we know them are going to disappear, far from it, but it is true that we are facing a technology that, if used well, can result in much more immersive and real experiences than those that are achieved with traditional video game design.

We are going to see how exactly these devices work so that you can see that, as with the cinema, it is a game of illusions that tries to trick our brains. In the case of virtual reality glasses, the device trick your brain and generate that feeling of immersion and of being inside a real stage without moving from the living room of your house.

How virtual reality glasses work: tricking the brain

As we mentioned to you in the introductory mod, the objective of virtual reality glasses is trick your brain into thinking it’s seeing a 3D image and have the feeling of exploring a strange place without having left your home.

In the image captures that are made of what is seen through the virtual reality glasses, we perceive that it looks like the same image repeated twice.

This is achieved thanks to the fact that virtual reality glasses take advantage of a stereoscopic display showing two slightly different angles of the same scene to each eye separately. Thanks to this, it is possible to simulate a false depth, a sensation that is complemented with content adapted to virtual reality. The parallax effect makes objects farther away appear to be moving more slowly.

Types of virtual reality glasses

exist two basic types of virtual reality glasses:

  • Independent. These are virtual reality glasses that work without the need to be connected to any external device.
  • Connected. They are those that need to be connected to a computer to be able to manage the high graphic requirements.

The substantial improvement in mobile processors makes independent virtual reality glasses more and more common. In addition, the latency is getting lower, which can avoid the dizziness that is usually associated with prolonged use of this type of device.

How virtual reality glasses work: screen, sensors and sound

Virtual reality isn’t just about putting a screen over your eyes. Its technology manages to get you inside a Virtual environment and trick your brain and body into thinking you’re really there.

As we have been seeing, it is important to realize that just as virtual reality glasses work, it is necessary that they have a series of characteristics that collaborate so that the illusion they generate works.

Therefore, it is important to talk about the different parts that make up virtual reality glasses. The screen, the sensors and the sound are the elements that, when coordinated, will make everything flow while you move in that virtual environment.


The screen is the main element of any model of virtual reality glasses. In order for the image to adjust, the screens of these devices have a series of corrective lenses with different thicknesses and curvatures.

The human field of vision is 180º and can reach 270º.

This generates different fields of vision and most modern glasses offer one that moves between 105 and 120 degrees wide. This affects the player’s immersion in the stageas it happens with the quality of the screen.


For everything to work, virtual reality glasses need sensors that perform the tracking our movements so that the images adapt to how we move while we use them. These sensors are:

  • Gyroscope: adds the rotation of the device in all its axes.
  • Accelerometer: detects screen orientation.
  • Magnetometer: measures the magnetic field and locates where it is north, south, east and west.

Also we have two tracking styles:

  • Head tracking: uses the sensors described above.
  • Position Tracking: Allows you to detect movement around the room. It does not use the sensors described above, but instead has external cameras and infrared sensors that record the space.


Good immersion in virtual reality is not achieved only with the illusion of the images, but it is something that has to be accompanied by sound. For this reason, virtual reality glasses are accompanied by 360º audio devices that allow the generation of a surround effect that complements and enriches the experience.

Virtual reality is a growing sector. Work as a video game programmer!

Now you know how virtual reality glasses work and, as we have been discussing, you can see that it is a type of device that every year improves a little more.

This means that, more and more, the content demand for virtual reality is greater. These contents have to be created by someone and that someone can be you.

With our video game programming and virtual reality course you will be able to specialize in the design and programming of applications for the entertainment technology of the future.

Are you going to miss it? find out!