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Essay/Term paper: Virtual reality

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Science

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Virtual Reality is a
creation of a highly interactive computer based
multimedia environment in which the user becomes
a participant with the computer in a "virtually real"
world We are living in an era characterized by 3D
virtual systems created by computer graphics. In
the concept called Virtual Reality (VR), the virtual
reality engineer is combining computer, video,
image-processing, and sensor technologies so that
a human can enter into and react with spaces
generated by computer graphics. In 1969-70, a
MIT scientist went to the University of Utah,
where he began to work with vector generated
graphics. He built a see-through helmet that used
television screens and half-silvered mirrors, so that
the environment was visible through the TV
displays. It was not yet designed to provide a
surrounding environment. It was not until the mid
'80's that virtual reality systems were becoming
more defined. The AMES contract started in
1985, came up with the first glove in February
1986. The glove is made of thin Lycra and is fitted
with 15 sensors that monitor finger flexion,
extension, hand position and orientation.
Connected to a computer through fiber optic
cables. Sensor inputs enable the computer to
generate an on screen image of the hand that
follows the operator's hand movements. The glove
also has miniature vibrators in the finger tips to
provide feedback to the operator from grasped
virtual objects. Therefore, driven by the proper
software, the system allows the operator to
interact by grabbing and moving a virtual object
within a simulated room, while experiencing the
"feel" of the object. The virtual reality line includes
the Datasuit and the Eyephone. The Datasuit is an
instrumented full-body garment that enables
full-body interaction with a computer constructed
virtual world. In one use, this product is worn by
film actors to give realistic movement to animated
characters in computer generated special effects.
The Eyephone is a head mounted stereo display
that shows a computer made virtual world in full
color and 3D. The Eyephone technology is based
on an experimental Virtual Interface Environment
Workstation (VIEW) design. VIEW is a
head-mounted stereoscopic display system with
two 3.9 inch television screens, one for each eye.
The display can be a computer generated scene or
a real environment sent by remote video cameras.
Sound effects delivered to the headset increase the
realism. It was intended to use the glove and
software for such ideas as a surgical simulation, or
"3D virtual surgery" for medical students. In the
summer of 1991, US trainee surgeons were able
to practice leg operations without having to cut
anything solid. NASA Scientists have developed a
three-dimensional computer simulation of a human
leg which surgeons can operate on by entering the
computer world of virtual reality. Surgeons use the
glove and Eyephone technology to create the
illusion that they are operating on a leg. Other
virtual reality systems such as the Autodesk and
the CAVE have also come up with techniques to
penetrate a virtual world. The Autodesk uses a
simple monitor and is the most basic visual
example for virtual reality. An example where this
could be used is while exercising. For example,
Autodesk may be connected to an exercise bike,
you can then look around a graphic world as you
pedal through it. If you pedal fast enough, your
bike takes off and flies. The CAVE is a new
virtual reality interface that engulfs the individual
into a room whose walls, ceiling, and floor
surround the viewer with virtual space. The illusion
is so powerful you won't be able to tell what's real
and what's not. Computer engineers seem
fascinated by virtual reality because you can not
only program a world, but in a sense, inhabit it.
Mythic space surrounds the cyborg, embracing
him/her with images that seem real but are not.
The sole purpose of cyberspace virtual reality
technology is to trick the human senses, to help
people believe and uphold an illusion. Virtual
reality engineers are space makers, to a certain
degree they create space for people to play
around in. A space maker sets up a world for an
audience to act directly within, and not just so the
audience can imagine they are experiencing a
reality, but so they can experience it directly. "The
film maker says, 'Look, I'll show you.' The space
maker says, 'Here, I'll help you discover.'
However, what will the space maker help us
discover?" "Are virtual reality systems going to
serve as supplements to our lives, or will
individuals so miserable in their daily existence find
an obsessive refuge in a preferred cyberspace?
What is going to be included, deleted, reformed,
and revised? Will virtual reality systems be used as
a means of breaking down cultural, racial, and
gender barriers between individuals and thus
nurture human values?" During this century,
responsive technologies are moving even closer to
us, becoming the standard interface through which
we gain much of our experience. The ultimate
result of living in a cybernetic world may create an
artificial global city. Instead of a global village,
virtual reality may create a global city, the
distinction 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 turn their heads. Any number of people
could be looking through the same camera system.
Although the example described here will
probably 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. As well, it is probably still childish to
imagine the adoption of virtual reality systems on a
massive scale because the starting price to own
one costs about $300,000. Virtual Reality is now
available in games and movies. An example of a
virtual reality game is Escape From Castle
Wolfenstein. In it, you are looking through the
eyes of an escaped POW from a Nazi death
camp. You must walk around in a maze of
dungeons were you will eventually fight Hitler. One
example of a virtual reality movie is Stephen
King's The Lawnmower Man. It is about a
mentally retarded man that uses virtual reality as a
means of overcoming his handicap and becoming
smarter. He eventually becomes crazy from his
quest for power and goes into a computer. From
there he is able to control most of the world's
computers. This movie ends with us wondering if
he will succeed in world domination. From all of
this we have learned that virtual reality is already
playing an important part in our world. Eventually,
it will let us be able to date, live in other parts of
the world without leaving the comfort of our own
living room, and more. Even though we are
quickly becoming a product of the world of virtual
reality, we must not lose touch with the world of
reality. For reality is the most important part of our
lives. Bibliography Bains, S. "Surgeons Slice a
Virtual Leg", New Scientist, Vol. 131, Pg. 28,
July 6, 1991 Baudrillard, J., The Ecstasy of
Communication, Translated by Bernard and
Caroline Schutze, New York: Semiotext, 1987
Helsel, K. Virtual Reality-Theory, Practice, and
Promise London: British Library, 1991 Neira, C.
"The CAVE: Autovisual Experience Automatic
Virtual Environment", Communications of the
ACM, vol. 35, pg. 65-72, summer 1992 Venkat,
P. "Integrating Virtual Reality", IEEE Transactions,
vol. 36, pg. 35-38, 1991  

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