Virual Reality

Virtual Reality:
Today and Beyond
Virtual reality (VR) is the creation of a highly interactive computer based multimedia environment in which the user becomes a participant with the computer in what is known as a “synthetic environment.” Virtual reality uses computers to immerse one inside a three-dimensional program rather than simulate it in two-dimensions on a monitor (Lewis 14). Utilizing the concept of virtual reality, the computer engineer integrates video technology, high resolution image-processing, and sensor technology into the data processor so that a person can enter into and react with three-dimensional spaces generated by computer graphics. The goal computer engineers have is to create an artificial world that feels genuine and will respond to every movement one makes, just as the real world does.
Virtual reality has two fundamental qualities. One is the idea of immersion of a human into a computer generated scene, and the other is the concept of navigation through this virtual world. There are basic ways of entering a virtual world by way of computer and monitor with input device. However, the most complex uses a Datasuit along with the Eyephone device to fully engulf one into cyberspace with simultaneous six-degrees of freedom (Robst 2). The Datasuit is an instrumented full-body garment that enables full-body interaction with a computer constructed world. The Eyephone is a head mounted stereo display that shows a computer made virtual world in full color with three dimensions. This display can be computer generated or real via video cameras, which with sound delivered through the headset brings a dramatically authentic experience.
During this century, responsive technologies are moving even closer to us, becoming the standard interface through which we gain much of our experience. One of the most exciting prospects of this technology is the creation of an artificial global city. Virtual reality provides the vehicle to conceive this global city. The intention being that the city contains enough people for groups to form affiliations, in which individuals from different cultures meet together, in the same space of virtual reality. The city might be laid out according to a three dimensional environment that dictates the way people living in different countries may come to communicate and understand other cultures. A special camera, possibly consisting of many video cameras, would capture and transmit every view of the remote locations. Viewers would receive instant feedback as they proceed through the city. Any number of people could be looking through the same camera system. Although the example described here would certainly take many years to develop, its early evolution has been under way for some time, with the steady march of technology moving from accessing information toward providing experience. However, it is still too early to imagine the adoption of individual virtual reality systems on a massive scale as the starting price is around $300,000 (Moeller and Nadile 1).
Responsive technology is growing extremely rapidly and will someday be the interface through which we gain most of our information. “With virtual reality, you will not just see a picture and hear the voice of your on-line correspondent; you’ll walk up to them, and shake there hand” (Sheridan 1). People from different countries will be able to convene for a conference without physically going someplace. The handicapped, shut-ins, and elderly could do things that most people take for granted such as taking a stroll through the park, or a trip to the mall. Everyday experiences could include exploring Mars, learning and seeing the life of dinosaurs, or observing the nuclear reactions which take place inside the sun. “Virtual reality is an exciting new field in the computer industry with endless capabilities” (Bunce 1); promising a higher dimension of learning and exploration for everyone.
After examining the components of virtual reality and it\'s nature, looking at where it is now, and where it appears to be heading, it must be re-emphasized that this is still a relatively young technology. Only after we begin to refine the techniques and experience the possibilities, will we have the ability to tell what virtual reality means to mankind. But, we are beginning to see glimpses of what can be done with this technology as well as what it may provide to our society. The twenty-first century is getting closer, and much of it will