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How Do VR Headsets Work?

VR headsets are essential, or even indispensable, to the Metaverse. Let’s get to know more about this amazing piece of technology.

Updated: January 16, 2023

We first saw them in movies. Now, they’ve already materialized in the real world. The clunky goggles that everyone 30 years ago thought are only for science fiction work are as real as you and me. 

These devices are called the “Virtual Reality” headsets, or more commonly known as the VR headsets. With these devices, people can tap into a three-dimensional digital world anytime they want to.  

They’ve been around for many years, actually. However, it’s only now that they’ve started becoming known to the mainstream audience. This is all thanks to tech giants like Meta (formerly Facebook), and Microsoft. 

Virtual Reality Is Only Going to Grow Bigger

Previously, virtual reality existed only in the gaming niche. Games like Fortnite and Roblox, among others, have been building scalable virtual worlds since the early years of the New Millennium. They’ve enjoyed immense popularity; however, they’re mostly limited in terms of audience, regardless of their community sizes.

With the Metaverse’s advent, however, virtual reality is only going to get bigger. There’s no stopping the growth of this technology. Think tank PwC even thinks that there’ll be a 30% cumulative growth in VR-oriented content every year until 2025! 

This only means that more people outside of gaming will be exposed to VR content in the next few years!

Let’s Get to Know Virtual Reality Headsets

As mentioned earlier, VR headsets are our starting point of access to virtual worlds and, in the future, the full Metaverse. The technology itself is very interesting because it is a combination of several related inventions, much like the World Wide Web.

Of course, many of these technologies we already are familiar with. These include a built-in stereo sound system. However, the notable techs in a VR headset are the visual projection system and the interactive devices that it is designed to work with – the haptic touch gloves and the inner-looking lenses in each goggle.

inside a VR headset

Visual Projection System

When you put on the VR headset, the first thing you’ll interface with is the visual projection system. It’s basically just a pair of lenses – one for each eye – that projects images right in front of the person. The lenses cover everything and block out the outside world for maximum immersion and minimal distraction.

The system is actually similar to stereo imaging, an old technology that gives otherwise flat images a sense of depth and multi-dimensionality. It does so by projecting two versions of the same image to each eye. Each of the images have a slightly different point of view of the subject, giving the picture the illusion of depth when viewed by both eyes through a device.

With VR headsets, however, what they’re viewing is a pre-rendered three-dimensional image hosted on the Metaverse server.

Haptic Gloves

Users of the Metaverse will want to reach out and touch all of the objects they encounter within the virtual world. They’ll also want to execute several actions that they would with their hands in the real world. This is where the haptic gloves come in to help.

Haptic gloves, for the moment, are bulky gloves with cables that connect to the VR headset. They primarily detect hand and arm movements and translate that into movement within the virtual world. In addition, they also simulate sensation when the user’s actions in the Metaverse gets him into contact with objects or people. 

For example, a user is exploring the world of Roblox and enters a simulation where one is to work as a carpenter. If he picks up a hammer, the haptic gloves will simulate the feeling of holding a hammer in one’s hand. The user will feel the weight of the hammer in their hands, and experience the vibrational feedback when hitting a nail with the tool.

One could say that, while the VR headsets project the digital world before the user’s eyes, the haptic gloves are responsible for making that experience feel real.

Other Sensors in the VR Headset 

The VR headset has many other sensors that help it keep the user immersed within the virtual world. Aside from the haptic gloves, the following sensors are also employed by the headset:

  • Accelerometers

Every person moves at a different pace at any given time. One moment he is walking, the other he is running. That has to be translated accurately into the movements of the person’s Metaverse avatar, or else the user experience will be jarring and disorienting. To ensure this, the headsets use accelerometers to measure the person’s rate of movement.

  • Gyroscopes

Since the Metaverse is a fully 3D environment, there needs to be a system to ensure movement across multiple axes. The gyroscope works together with the accelerometer to measure movement in all directions and achieve full 3D motion within the digital realm.

  • Face sensors

Face sensors are responsible for having your avatar assume the expressions that you make within the goggles while you explore the Metaverse. These sensors track muscular movements in your face and eyes and transmit that to the servers, translating into your avatar’s facial expressions as they interact with other users.

Aside from these sensors, virtual reality headsets also include full surround audio systems and microphone jacks to help you communicate with other people within the Metaverse.


Considered as the gateways to the Metaverse, the VR headsets are surprisingly simple in design and construction. No new technology had to be invented and patented to field these devices. All of the technology needed already existed and only had to be assembled together into a working example for the VR headsets to become a reality.

One thing is for sure – these devices will become more advanced as the idea of an interoperable and expansive Metaverse inches closer to reality as the years pass by.

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