Virtual Reality





Take the human mind\'s imagination and stretch it to its farthest limits. Write a computer program to breathe life into the conceived idea. Hook up the whole contraption to the latest cutting edge technological equipment and the end result is guaranteed to overload our perception of reality, the reality as we know it. Yes, folks, virtual reality is taking our society by storm, invading almost every aspect of our lives. With some special equipment such as helmets and gloves, the average person can immerse himself in a virtual world where he can travel to Africa or learn how to drive. Due to the great leaps made in today\'s technological arena, nothing is impossible with virtual reality; it is only limited to the imagination of a person. All the hype and excitement about virtual reality rests upon its multiple and flexible applications. The medical field, the industrial world, and even educational systems can utilize this technology and produce efficient products and satisfactory results. But within the computer and technology-crazed world, virtual reality proves to be a major player in cutting down human interaction and contributing to this "impersonal world." With the loss of human interaction, human morals and ideals get lost within the jungle of fiber optics and cyberspace. Although virtual reality offers our society many advantages in the areas of medicine, industry, education, and sexuality, the shortcomings of the technology limit its success; more importantly, the technology itself has a detrimental effect on human interaction and human morals.
In today\'s quest to find the easiest and most efficient way to execute procedures and train doctors, virtual reality has surfaced as one of the medical field\'s most popular mediums. Exploding into the medical arena this past year, revolutionary software, Immersive Workbench, allows a doctor to virtually enter a patient\'s body. The doctor wears special gloves and shutter glasses to interact with the patient "virtually" through images generated by cat scans, magnetic resonance imagery, and ultrasound (Hodges 17). This technology allows the doctor to plan the best possible way to execute the medical procedure for the patient. Using virtual reality, the doctor can practice the procedures until he or she is confident enough to actually perform the procedure (18). Due to this feature, the software is making its way into medical schools to train soon-to-be-doctors. Immersive Workbench is a stand-alone software where an instructor is not required to be present in the training and simulations (19). Virtual reality allows doctors to have hands-on experience without actually performing the medical procedures. This cuts down on expenses and reduces the time of training. The doctor also gains from virtual reality practice through lowering the stress levels and reducing tense situations because the doctor can have all the practice he or she requires without a life-threatening situation.
Like all good things in life, there is, however, a hefty price tag that society must pay for this technology. With virtual reality taking over as "teachers" in the medical schools, instructors and seasoned doctors become obsolete. This "lack of instructor-to-student contact is detrimental to our society" (Grantham and Vaske 82). However, by practicing through simulations alone, the doctor does not learn the essential social skills, for example bedside manners, required in the medical field. Along with social skills, doctors miss out on hearing advice and experiences from seasoned doctors because "conversations between humans go beyond the task of giving and receiving information; they also involve socials goals of making an impression and influencing others" (Grantham and Vaske 84). If there is a human being teaching the course instead of virtual reality on its own, the doctors and professors would be able to learn from each other\'s input. Also, virtual reality simulations lack the nonverbal behaviors such as a smile or a head nod from the professor. The absence of these cues in the teacherless environment restricts the ability to achieve the same level of understanding between the student and instructor (86). In the simulated environment, the student is not able to ask questions or to clarify instructions or techniques. The lack of human interaction within the virtual reality training limits a doctor\'s understanding of the whole medical procedure when applied to humans, for human beings react in ways that a computer can not simulate (86). The