An Insight Into Virtual Reality
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.

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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

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.