Seminar on Virtual Reality For a next generation

Guided By:B. B. Prajapati Department of IT

Prepared By: Gajera Jimesh G. (6020) Shantilal Shah Engineering College, Bhavnagar.

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CERTIFICATE

This is to certify that Roll no. of B.E th Semester 8 I.T Class, has satisfactorily completed his Term work of the subject during the academic year 2010 and submitted on ________

Staff In Charge

Head of Department

Certified that this term work is accepted and assessed on _________

Examiner

Convener

ABSTRACT

Virtual Reality (VR) has been claimed to provide a particularly facilitatory environment for people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in that it offers structure, opportunities for repetition, affective engagement and, control of
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the learning environment. Virtual reality shares the advantages of computer-based learning, and has the additional advantage of making it more likely that the results will generalise to real-word settings, in that it is a simulation of them. For concept development and imagination training, VR offers its exclusive advantage of making it possible to explicitly show imaginary/magic transformations of how an object can act as if it were a different one, which is useful for training in both abstract concepts and imagination understanding. This paper reviews the relevant issues that need to be addressed when designing and experimentally assessing a tool for this purpose, and concludes with the results of the more relevant research outcomes obtained in this field.

INDEX NO. 1 2 3 CHAPTER Introduction Concept of Virtual Reality History PAGE NO. 5 13 14

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whether that environment is a simulation of the real world or an imaginary world. INTRODUCTION What is Virtual Reality? Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-simulated environment. 4 . but some simulations include additional sensory information.4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Types of VR Virtual Reality Environment How Virtual Reality Works Applications of Virtual Reality Future Impact of Virtual Reality Drawback of Virtual Reality Conclusion Bibliography 19 26 29 32 47 54 64 68 69 1. such as sound through speakers or headphones. Most current virtual reality environments are primarily visual experiences. displayed either on a screener through special or stereoscopic displays.

those limitations are expected to eventually be overcome as processor. Users can interact with a virtual environment or a virtual artifact (VA) either through the use of standard input devices such as a keyboard and mouse. and omni directional treadmill. commonly associated with its immersive.Some advanced. In the book The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality. 3D environments. database gloves and miniaturization have helped popularize the notion. However. due largely to technical limitations on processing power. Virtual Reality is often used to describe a wide variety of applications. or it can differ significantly from reality. The simulated environment can be similar to the real world. Heim identifies seven 5 . head mounted displays. hectic systems now include tactile information. In practice. in medical and gaming applications. as in VR games. highly visual. generally known as force feedback. for example. Michael R. it is currently very difficult to create a high-fidelity virtual reality experience. imaging and data communication technologies become more powerful and costeffective over time. graphics hardware acceleration. image resolution and communication bandwidth. simulations for pilot or combat training. the Polhemus boom arm. or through multimodal devices such as a wired glove. The development of CAD software.

immersion. In order to get a true illusion of reality. artificiality. it is essential for the user to have influence on this virtual environment. People often identify VR with Head Mounted Displays and Data Suits. e. This has not necessarily got to be as complex as it sounds. interaction. a PC-monitor stimulates the visual sense. a headphone stimulates the auditory sense.different concepts of Virtual Reality: simulation. and network communication. Basically. telepresence. Consequently.partly attained by means of Virtual Reality interfaces connected to a computer. is providing a simulation of the interaction between human being and this real environment. these two kinds of interfaces are widely employed as Virtual Reality interfaces. full-body immersion. Interaction with a virtual environment All that has to be done in order to raise the illusion of being in or acting upon a virtual world or virtual environment. This simulation is -at least. a VR interface stimulates one of the human senses.g. The definition still has a certain futuristic romanticism attached. Virtual Reality (VR) is stimulating the user’s senses in such a way that a computer generated world is experienced as real. 6 .

which are sensed through both touch and kinesthesia.A haptic interface (FCS HapticMaster) With the gustatory and olfactory sense left out of consideration. This is a device configured to provide haptic information to a human. Just as a video interface allows the user to see a computer generated scene. the hardest part of simulating the interaction between human being and real environment is stimulating the tactile sense and the proprioceptive system (kinesthetic sense). The main difference is that the mass of the on- 7 . a haptic interface permits the user to “feel” it. This can be done using a so-called haptic interface. there are two main kinds of haptic interfaces. On-body interface (Exoskeleton) Off-body interface (Phantom Desktop) Currently. namely the off-body interface and the on-body interface. Haptic displays generate forces and motions.

most commercially available devices are off-body. the emphasis is mainly on two different application areas: . 8 . Within the Virtual Reality laboratory (VR-lab). Nowadays.Virtual Reality as an engineering tool. .body interface is supported by the operator while the off-body interface rests on the floor.Virtual Reality as a medical training tool. The VR-lab Virtual Reality technology can be usefully applied to a broad range of fields.

Therefore. the designer should be able to define and test the desired behaviour of a forthcoming product in such a way that the corresponding geometry is created automatically by means of a CAD system. This has led to the development of Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems that enable the designer to evaluate the geometry of his virtual design. it should be made possible for the designer to interact with a virtual prototype as he would do with a physical one. even worse. However. modifications are still quite cheap.Virtual Reality as an engineering tool In times of shortened product life cycles and increased product complexity. In order to come to this ideal situation. the development of physical prototypes still is necessary. Geometric based design has reached a high level of maturity and affordability. Many companies use it to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the design process. more responsibility comes with designing a product. compared with changes to a physical prototype or. 9 . This can be a very much time-consuming and expensive process. the final product. for evaluation of a design. At this stage of the design process. Research shows that about 80% of development costs and 70% of life cycle costs of a product are determined during the conceptual phase of this process.

A virtual prototype can be defined as a computer-based simulation of a system or subsystem with a degree of functional realism comparable to a physical prototype.A Virtual Prototyping environment for gearboxes The answer to more interactive CAD environments is found in the application of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. This is the process of using a virtual prototype. It allows for interaction with a virtual environment through multiple sensory channels. When VR technology is applied instead of or as a supplement to development of physical prototypes. in lieu of a physical prototype. A Virtual Assembly environment 10 . for test and evaluation of specific characteristics of a candidate design. it is called Virtual Prototyping (VP).

invariability in case of CAD model modifications and immovability caused by mass or extensions. not only potentially critical operations and geometric conflicts during assembly can be detected. but also a training tool for shop floor workers is provided. A solution to these problems lies in the application of Virtual Assembly. Usually. In order to track down the potentially critical operations and geometric conflicts during assembly. This way of teaching has besides many good points some drawbacks. These operations take more time thus expensive extra operating-room time is used. costly and time-consuming manufacturing.g. This way. a detailed assembly procedure has to be developed without the actual components present. Simulation of surgical incision 11 . Virtual Reality as a medical training tool Patients nowadays expect the best treatment possible. e. the assembly of a conceptual product is already taken into account.A specific part of Virtual Prototyping is Virtual Assembly (VA). various assembly operations can be simulated. By utilizing VR technology. Patients are needed for these educational purposes. physical prototypes are employed. Therefore. Those physical prototypes have a number of drawbacks. The quality depends highly on the educational skills of the experienced doctor. The common way for a surgeon student to acquire experience is by “on the fly” learning from an experienced surgeon. during the design process.

The VR research boom of the 1990s was accompanied by the non-fiction book Virtual Reality (1991) by Howard Rheingold. a 1982 science-fiction novel by Damien Broderick. The book served to 12 . a virtual reality "in which characters. 2. where the context of use is somewhat different from that defined above.The aim of using Virtual Reality as a medical training tool is to offer additional means to teach surgeon student. the procedures and the theoretical background of operations and diseases. Artaud described theatre as "la réalite virtuelle". poet. objects. CONCEPT OF VIRTUAL REALITY The term "artificial reality". The goal is to halve the “on the fly” learning in the operating room with real patients and to improve the quality of the medical treatment. and images take on the phantasmagoric force of alchemy's visionary internal dramas". actor and director Antonin Artaud. a 3D vision. In his seminal book The Theatre and Its Double (1938). a 3D model system and an assessment program an environment will be created in which surgeon students can improve and test their operating skills. With two haptic devices. Within a virtual operating room the student will be able to practice the technical skills. coined by Myron Krueger. but the article is not about VR technology. It has been used in The Judas Mandala. The concept of virtual reality was popularized in mass media by movies such as Brainstorm (filmed mostly in 1981) and The Lawnmower Man (plus others mentioned below). The earliest use cited by the Oxford English Dictionary is in a 1987 article titled "Virtual reality". has been in use since the 1970s. but the origin of the term "virtual reality" can be traced back to the French playwright. Currently the main research attention is paid to the development of this virtual operating room.

with an impact similar to that which his book The Virtual Community had on virtual community research lines closely related to VR. along with five short films to be displayed in it while engaging multiple senses (sight. Philosophical implications of the concept of VR are systematically discussed in the book Get Real: A Philosophical Adventure in Virtual Reality (1998) by Philip Zhai. wherein the idea of VR is pushed to its logical extreme and ultimate possibility. In 1966 Tom Furness introduces a visual flight stimulator for the Air Force. HISTORY In the 1560s 360-degree art through panoramic murals were believed to have started the idea of virtual reality. In 1920s vehicle simulators were introduced.demystify the subject. making it more accessible to less technical researchers and enthusiasts. sound. It was primitive both in terms of user interface 13 . He built a prototype of his vision dubbed the Sensorama in 1962. thus drawing the viewer into the onscreen activity. and touch). Ivan Sutherland. In 1968. created what is widely considered to be the first virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) head mounted display (HMD) system. An example of this would be Baldassare Peruzzi's piece titled. explores the term and its history from an avant-garde perspective. virtual reality could be made to have an ontological status equal to that of actual reality. Around this time Douglas Englebart uses computer screens as both input and output devices. Morton Heilig wrote in the 1950s of an "Experience Theatre" that could encompass all the senses in an effective manner. According to Zhai. with the help of his student Bob Sproull. "Sala delle Prospettive". smell. Multimedia: from Wagner to Virtual Reality. 3. edited by Randall Packer and Ken Jordan and first published in 2001.

Sutherland created one of the first head mounted augmented reality display systems—what would come to be known through movies and TV as a VR helmet—known to some as The Sword of Damocles because it was so big and heavy that it had to be suspended precariously over the user’s head with a series of cables.” Sutherland’s essay might have been full of fanciful speculations about the future of digital technology. The creation of virtual reality has been slow going. William Gibson rocked the minds of a 14 . In 1965 Ivan Sutherland. Colorado in which users could wander the streets in one of three modes: summer. however. drag and drop interfaces and voice recognition software. he wrote about the ultimate display—“a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter. The display only showed the users crude outlines of a virtual environment. one of the modern pioneers of the field. The program was a crude virtual simulation of Aspen. an ARPA scientist. Despite the technology’s scientific beginnings. Lanier had founded the company VPL Research (from "Visual Programming Languages") in 1985.” In his essay Sutherland predicted all sorts of advances in computer technology: computer mice. The formidable appearance of the device inspired its name. which was created at MIT in 1977. arduous and. In the late 1980s the term "virtual reality" was popularized by Jaron Lanier. up until the mid-‘90s. winter. but his wild (and shockingly accurate) predictions helped plant the seed of VR in the minds of scientists and non-scientists to follow. Also notable among the earlier hypermedia and virtual reality systems was the Aspen Movie Map. In 1968 with the help of one of his assistants. The movie TRON had people imagining the possibilities of interactive gaming to the Nth degree. published his grand oeuvre “The Ultimate Display. and polygons. The Sword of Damocles. VR made its first major strides in fiction.and realism. largely theoretical in nature. and the graphics comprising the virtual environment were simple wireframe model rooms. and the HMD to be worn by the user was so heavy it had to be suspended from the ceiling. which developed and built some of the seminal "goggles and gloves" systems of that decade. The first two were based on photographs — the researchers actually photographed every possible movement through the city's street grid in both seasons — and the third was a basic 3-D model of the city. But most importantly.

gaming companies quickly cut their losses and left VR to the scientists and the artists. tried to cash in on the early advancements. VIDEOPLACE was crude. In fact. the video game market. it was all about beaming the information directly into the user’s brain. Ray Bradbury took the concept of a VR room to its most horrific extreme in The Veldt. the equipment was too bulky and the graphics and game play offered weren’t up to par. but Krueger’s experiments showed that science was at least trying to move forward with VR. 15 . captivated by the possibilities of VR. VR5. The Lawnmower man. Soon scientists were trying to combine systems like VIDEOPLACE with data gloves and tactile interfaces. Initially. and most famously The Matrix imagined worlds where the goggles and gloves were obsolete. The first major technical leap forward came in the mid-‘70s in the form of Myron Krueger’s VIDEOPLACE. computers and projectors. Virtual reality had bounded forward in one of the five senses—sight— but that left the other four to conquer. Since the late ‘80s virtual reality has been popping up everywhere in movies and TV. Who could forget that seminal scene in the classic movie Wizard where the badass townie unlocks a Nintendo power glove from a carrying case and proceeds to school all those who dare come up against him? Or the phase in the mid-‘90s where you could stand on a giant platform. and they had a field day. The leader in this field was Jaron Lanier. Virtuosity. And while VR charged ahead in the realm of fiction. people in a VR room were able to see and interact with silhouettes of people in other similar rooms. in the field of science it scrambled to keep up. The tech was too expensive. put on a ridiculously large helmet and box a 16-bit opponent with Nintendo Wii-like controllers? But all of these attempts to game with VR would quickly fade away—most in less than a year. Compared to the advances that writers and directors of the time were coming up with. In 1985 Lanier founded a company called VPL Research and began experimenting with all sorts of goggle and glove set ups. So. eXistenZ. Using cameras. So.generation when he wrote of a cyber-punk society where a brain-computer interface was possible in Neuromancer. he popularized the term virtual reality.

The Nintendo Wii allows people to physically interact with a virtual opponent. revealed what they saw as a giant leap forward in VR tech. One of the biggest innovations in VR came earlier this year. researchers in the field of VR have been stretching themselves to hit more of the five senses. while more impressive than anything we’ve had before. Virtual Reality in… Reality This brings us to today. it also has a library of smells and tastes it can feed to the user to correspond to the world they are experiencing. Instead. In the last few years. The cocoon not only simulates the looks and sounds of a 3D environment on the inside of a portable helmet. less intrusive helmets. 16 . but few have ventured into the realm of taste and smell. Current VR technology.K. Most systems can only manage to immerse two senses at a time: The VR systems that therapists use to help treat client phobias or PTSD use helmets or small rooms to simulate sights and sounds. In March 2009 a team of scientists from the Universities of York and Warwick in the U. they concentrated on better. the Virtual Cocoon. Sight and sound have always been the go-to senses for virtual reality researchers.Science too kept pursuing the elusive brass ring of VR. But science is getting tired of this plateau it’s been stuck on. still falls short of what we imagined it could be. but direct to brain transmission was and is still a little invasive for the scientific community (However. more efficient interfaces and more realistic 3D modeling. this didn’t stop Sony from patenting the idea that information could someday be beamed into a human’s brain earlier this year).

When combined with something like the Virtual Cocoon. you’re in trouble. we’re the closest we’ve ever been to escaping this troublesome world in favour of an ideal one of our own making. and the technology might be in its infancy. but we may have our VR rooms and Holodecks sooner that we think. 17 . This would allow people to walk in any direction for as long as they want without hitting a wall or walking into traffic. We may have waited a long time.Which just leaves one last aspect of creating a truly immersive virtual reality system–the ever elusive locomotion? You can create life-like graphics and simulate realistic sounds. a company called Cyberwalk has started work on an omni-directional treadmill they call the CyberCarpet. you can feed them tastes and smells. To get around this problem. but as soon as your test subject takes their first step to explore your virtual world. and a virtual world the size of your living room just doesn’t do it for most people.

4. most configurations fall into three main categories and each category can be ranked by the sense of immersion. MAIN TYPES OF VR (Classified by display technology) Although it is difficult to categorise all VR systems. or degree of presence it provides. Immersion or presence can be regarded as how powerfully the attention of the user is focused on the task in hand. Immersion presence is generally believed to be the product of several parameters 18 .

which is not always the case for many proprietary VR authoring tools. Additionally. . The advantage of VRML for the PC desktop user is that this software runs relatively well on a PC. providing a stereoscopic rather than monoscopic view of the virtual environment will increase the sense of immersion experienced by the user. this low cost means that these systems will always be outperformed by more sophisticated implementations. For example. field of regard and the update rate of the display. many commercial VR software suppliers are now incorporating VRML capability into their software and exploring the commercial possibilities of desktop VR in general. these systems are of little use where the perception of scale is an important factor. as the name suggests. This means that these systems can be regarded as the lowest cost VR solution which can be used for many applications. are the least immersive implementation of VR techniques. no special hardware and can be implemented on high specification PC clones. Furthermore. However. It must be stressed that no one parameter is effective in isolation and the level of immersion achieved is due to the complex interaction of the many factors involved. stereoscopic view. provide almost no sense of immersion and are limited to a certain extent by current 2D interaction devices. As will be shown in this report. the virtual environment is viewed through a portal or window by utilising a standard high resolution monitor. or DataGloveä. However. one would expect to see an increase in the popularity of such systems for VR use in the near future. image complexity. 19 . Non-Immersive (Desktop) Systems Non-immersive systems. The non-immersive system has advantages in that they do not require the highest level of graphics performance. the type of VR system being used an important consideration when one investigates the genesis of sickness symptoms and the type of symptoms that may develop.including level of interactivity. Using the desktop system. mice and trackballs or may be enhanced by using 3D interaction devices such as a SpaceBallä. Interaction with the virtual environment can occur by conventional means such as keyboards. This is due to the fact that Virtual Reality Modelling Reality Language (VRML) is expected to be adopted as a de-facto standard for the transfer of 3D model data and virtual worlds via the internet.

The resolutions of projection systems range from 1000 . Shutter Glasses Liquid Crystal Shutter (LCS) glasses are an important technology when considering semi-immersive systems and consist of a lightweight headset with a 20 . However. the quality of the projected image is an important consideration. It is important to calibrate the geometry of the projected image to the shape of the screen to prevent distortions and the resolution will determine the quality of textures. This may have a considerable benefit in educational applications as it allows simultaneous experience of the VE which is not available with head-mounted immersive systems. images can be provided that are of a far greater resolution than HMDs and this implementation provides the ability to share the virtual experience. Using a wide field of view.Semi-Immersive Projection Systems Semi-immersive systems are a relatively new implementation of VR technology and borrow considerably from technologies developed in the flight simulation field. A semi-immersive system will comprise of a relatively high performance graphics computing system which can be coupled with either: • • • A large screen monitor A large screen projector system Multiple television projection systems In many ways. these systems increase the feeling of immersion or presence experienced by the user. Semi-immersive systems therefore provide a greater sense of presence than non-immersive systems and also a greater appreciation of scale.1. Additionally. the ability of define shapes and the ability of the user to read text on-screen. In addition. colours. these projection systems are similar to the IMAX theatres discussed in section 1.3000 lines but to achieve the highest levels it may be necessary to use multiple projection systems which are more expensive. using some type of shuttered glasses in synchronisation with the graphics system. stereographic imaging can be achieved.

and so each eye views the scene from a slightly different position. This switching between images occurs so rapidly that it is undetectable by the user. When the right image is displayed. A semi-immersive wide-screen projection system in use with shutter glasses. The graphics computer used displays slightly different left and right views (known as a stereo pair) of the virtual environment sequentially on the display system. Examples of this product commercially available include CrystalEyes Shutter Glasses and the 3D Max Shutter Glasses System. allowing the viewer’s left eye to see the screen. thus blocking the right eyes view. When the left image is displayed.liquid crystal lens placed over each eye. who fuses the two images in the brain to see one constant 3D image. 21 . Picture courtesy of Loughborough University Advanced VR Research Centre Figure 1. the glasses either pass or block an image that is produced on the VDU or projected display. Stereopsis works on the principle that in order to perceive depth in a scene. To achieve the stereoscopic effect. remains off. In the real world this occurs because the two eyes are placed slightly apart in the head. the observer must see slightly different images of the scene under regard in each eye. The right eye lens. the opposite occurs. the left eye lens is switched on. however.

Firstly. Stereo images are provided in a similar way to shutter glasses. bi-ocular or monocular images. 1994). Fully Immersive Head-Mounted Display Systems The most direct experience of virtual environments is provided by fully immersive VR systems. the increased performance of this VR implementation comes at a cost. These systems are probably the most widely known VR implementation where the user either wears an HMD or uses some form of headcoupled display such as a Binocular Omni-Orientation Monitor or BOOM (Bolas. This is acceptable as the simulator is not used for any other applications but becomes problematical when one considers that a semi-immersive installation may have multifarious uses that may require different interaction strategies. The handover of control between users is one of the issues that must be considered as this technology develops. Setting up a projection screen system is far more difficult than a desktop system and is considerably more expensive. one must consider carefully the applications that such a system may be used for.Again however. The most commonly used displays are small Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels but more expensive HMDs use Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) which increase the resolution of the image. The HMD design may partially or fully exclude the users view of the real world and enhances the field of view of the computer 22 . Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) An HMD uses small monitors placed in front of each eye which can provide stereo. will be much further away because of the HMD optical system. there are problems with current interaction devices for these systems. Bi-ocular images can be provided by displaying identical images on each screen and monocular images by using only one display screen. Additionally. which the wearer focuses on. The major difference is that the two screens are placed very close (50-70mm) to the eye. one must consider multi-user issues. although the image. as this is one of the main advantages of these systems. For a flight simulation system it is possible to simply used an inceptor (joystick) which can be interpreted by the aircraft model as the flight control input. in that a slightly different image is presented to each eye. Secondly.

Comparison between VR Implementations 23 . The advantage of this method is that the user is provided with a 360°. but the sense of immersion depends of several parameters including the field of view of the HMD. Image courtesy of VISERG. the update rate. and contrast and illumination of the display. Fully immersive VR systems tend to be the most demanding in terms of the computing power and level of technology (and consequently cost!) required to achieve a satisfactory level of realism and development is constantly underway to improve the technologies. Major areas of research and development include field of view vs resolution trade-offs.generated world. All fully immersive systems will give a sense of presence that cannot be equalled by the other approaches discussed earlier. The major components of an HMD. the resolution. Loughborough University Figure 2. field of regard meaning that the user will receive a visual image if they turn their head to look in ANY direction. This illustration shows the two screens capable of producing stereo images and speakers located to provide stereo sound. reducing the size and weight of HMDs and reducing system lag times.

1). it is possible to turn a desktop system into a semi-immersive system by simply adding shutter glasses and the appropriate software.Kalawsky (1996) provides a good comparison between the various VR implementations (see Table 2. Table 2. It is also important that these implementations are not regarded as distinct boundaries for implementations. 1996) Qualitative Performance Main Features Non.Immersive SemiVR Immersive VR (Desktop) (Projection) Full Immersive VR (Headcoupled) Low .1 Qualitative performance of different VR systems (adapted from Kalawsky.Medium High Resolution Scale (perception) Sense situational awareness (navigation skills) Field of regard Lag High Low High Medium . For example.High 24 .High of Low Medium High Low Low Medium Low High Medium . or a fully immersive system by connecting an HMD.

As long as a user is aware of the interaction device.High 5.Sense immersion of None .low Medium . effectively causing the computer to become a non entity. Lag time between when a user acts and when the virtual environment reflects that action is called latency. researchers from Princeton University have made the first direct measurements of the cellular activity associated with spatial navigation. he is not truly immersed. When a user detects latency. An immersive experience suffers if a user becomes aware of the real world around him. Latency usually refers to the delay between the time a user turns his head or moves his eyes and the change in the point of view. you wouldn’t expect to feel a gentle breeze or detect the scent of roses. and should lead to a better understanding of how spatial information is encoded at the cellular level. Studies with flight simulators show that humans can detect a latency of more than 50 milliseconds. though the term can also be used for a lag in other sensory outputs. USING an inventive new method in which mice run through a virtual reality environment based on the video game Quake. you wouldn’t expect to feel gale-force winds. if the VE puts you in the middle of a hurricane.High Medium . it causes him to become aware of being in an artificial environment and destroys the sense of immersion. In order to reach the goal of true immersion. VIRTUAL REALITY ENVIRONMENT Other sensory output from the VE system should adjust in real time as a user explores the environment. Truly immersive experiences make the user forget his real surroundings. Sensory stimulation must be consistent if a user is to feel immersed within a VE. 25 . If the VE shows a perfectly still scene. Likewise. If the environment incorporates 3-D sound. developers have to come up with input methods that are more natural for users. The method will allow for investigations of the neural circuitry underlying navigation. the user must be convinced that the sound’s orientation shifts in a natural way as he maneuvers through the environment.

fire periodically as the animal traverses a space. 26 . Place cells increase their activity when the animal is in a specific location within its environment. during which time they can be used to monitor changes in place cell firing rates. which were identified only last year. Their activity is typically recorded using small arrays of microelectrodes implanted within the hippocampus of a freely moving rodent.In mice. They record from afar. because the animal's movements prevent them from coming into. In the ingenious set-up devised by members of David Tank's laboratory. Grid cells. as their name implies. and how the acitivty of cells is related to the animal's movements within its environment. Place cells were discovered almost 40 years ago and are the most extensively studied of these cell types. The arrays can remain in place for days or weeks. each has a unique periodicity. encode the animal's distance from the borders within its environment. Head direction cells. by contrast. Information about the rotation of the treadmill was used to control the animals' movements along a computer-generated track which was projected onto a surrounding screen. spatial navigation involves at least four different cell types located in the hippocampus and surrounding regions. close contact with the cells. and maintaining. called the place field. and ran on a spherical treadmill supported by a jet of air. and apparently measures out the space using its own scale. fire when the animal is facing a particular direction and border cells. the mice were restrained.

Because the animals were stationary. The actvity of individual place cells was modulated by location.In this virtual environment. and can be used in combination with other techniques such as two-photon laser scanning microscopy. The background activity of single cells was also found to increase while the animal was in the appropriate location. the corresponding cell would ramp up its resting membrane voltage. regular bursts of nervous impulses. and the availablity of this virtual reality system will enable researchers to study the activity of place cells in greater detail. enabling the researchers to measure their dynamical electrical properties. The data do not exclude other possibilities. This produced a low level of background activity called the theta oscillation. 27 .. This would cause the cell to increase the frequency of its impulses while the mouse ran through the field. and the frequency of impulses would decrease again. to generate a rhythmic discharge with a higher frequency than the background. however. This revealed how their firing rate increases: as the mouse approached a place field. These findings are consistent with the predictions of a model which states that place cell activity is modulated by interactions between two separate oscillating inputs. the membrane voltage would go back down to its normal level. because it offers researchers the ability to design highly customized environments. All the cells from which recordings were made generated short. the corresponding place cell increased its firing rate almost five-fold. separated by intervals of about one tenth of a second. the place cells behaved as expected. the electrodes could be used to record directly from the place cells. and which is characteristic of the hippocampus. which has a frequency of 6-10 cycles per second. As the animal entered a given place field. When the animal emerged from the other side of the field.

you're likely a computer scientist or engineer. HOW VIRTUAL REALITY WORKS What do you think of when you hear the words virtual reality (VR)? Do you imagine someone wearing a clunky helmet attached to a computer with a thick cable? Do visions of crudely rendered pterodactyls haunt you? Do you think of Neo and Morpheus traipsing about the Matrix? Or do you wince at the term.6. many of whom now avoid the words virtual reality even while they work on technologies most of us associate with VR. Fig: A virtual reality CAVE display projecting images onto the floor. Today. 28 . you're more likely to hear someone use the words virtual environment (VE) to refer to what the public knows as virtual reality. wishing it would just go away? If the last applies to you. walls and ceiling to provide full immersion.

and correspondingly adjust the images on the user's display to reflect the change in perspective. but in general it should include: Three-dimensional images that appear to be life-sized from the perspective of the user • The ability to track a user's motions. three-dimensional world that a user can manipulate and explore while feeling as if he were in that world. How Does Virtual Reality Work? Dive Right In! To understand how virtual reality works you must understand the concept of immersion. Online gaming uses virtual reality to create realistic gaming scenarios. theorists and engineers have designed dozens of devices and applications to achieve this goal. 29 . The combination of immersion and the ability to interact is known as telepresence.Naming discrepancies aside. Universities and schools use virtual reality to interact with students. Businesses use virtual reality to communicate and to advertise. This world must allow users to interact with the environment and each other and leave the user with the feeling that he is actually in the virtual environment.using computer technology to create a simulated. • Have you ever wondered how does virtual reality work? Well. you are not alone. Opinions differ on what exactly constitutes a true VR experience. For an experience to qualify as a virtual reality experience it must both immerse you in the virtual world and allow you to interact with the environment and others in the environment. The uses of virtual reality are endless. Scientists. What is a virtual environment? A virtual reality space is said to exist when a 3D computer generated world has been created. If either of these qualities is missing you will not have a true virtual experience. particularly his head and eye movements. the concept remains the same . Virtual reality is overtaking the real world and you cannot help but come into contact with virtual environments. Immersion allows users to feel as if they exist within the virtual world.

If looking at a tree the user must be able to walk around the tree and view it from many perspectives. Lag time will cause the virtual experience to be limited. (or speech). pitches. A keyboard will allow users to communicate with other users in text format. A virtual world must recreate this experience. There should be no lag time between your real life movements. As with immersion. The virtual user can move in the virtual environment and do many things he would in the real world. 30 . and a driving force behind how a virtual world works. Interaction with the environment means that the user has the ability to move objects in his environment. is interaction. Understanding how virtual reality works will make your life easier.In order for a user to feel he is in a virtual world the world must appear to be a regular sized world where perspectives and movement can be achieved effortlessly. and the corresponding actions in the virtual world. Interaction with others in virtual worlds can be accomplished via text or speech. If a user becomes aware of the real world environment the virtual world has failed. Many virtual reality programs are currently being created to make users’ daily lives more pleasant. A user must be able to see in the virtual world as he does in the real world. and tones depending on where you are and how you are moving. Immersion includes such concepts as sight and sound. Users in the virtual world must be able to interact with other users and the virtual environment. Once you understand how virtual reality works you can dive into the virtual world. interaction must be seamless. The goal of immersion is for the virtual world to mimic the real world to the point that a user will be “lost” in the virtual environment and forget he is using a computer or that the real world exists. Sound is a major component of how virtual reality works. How Does Virtual Reality Work? With Inter-Action The second component of a virtual world. Microphones and headsets let users communicate using speech. In the real world sounds are heard in different volumes.

With light simulation architects can examine how outdoor light will fall inside and outside their building before it is built.7. In addition to training. This article will summarize how virtual reality is used in medicine. Medicine Mark Billinghurst. the expert assistant can be used during the actual operation to provide feedback and guidance. Finally. weather simulation. these are only two of the many ways virtual reality is being used today. In addition. chemistry and the visualization of voxel data. However. During a simulated operation the system provides vocal and visual feedback to the user. and warns the surgeon when a dangerous action is about to take place. links to web pages where other uses of virtual reality are detailed are included at the end of this article. If the lighting needs to be redesigned. 31 . has developed a prototype surgical assistant for simulation of paranasal surgery. Architecture The department of visualization and virtual reality at the IGD University in Germany has developed a program that uses radiosity and raytracing to simulate light. architecture. APPLICATIONS OF VIRTUAL REALITY VIRTUAL REALITY IS WELL KNOWN for its use with flight simulators and games. This virtual reality program has applications in the area of architecture and light engineering. Billinghurst and his associates are working at developing a toolkit for physicians which will help them create their own expert assistants for other types of surgery. This is very useful when the surgeon's awareness of the situation is limited due to complex anatamoy. the architect can redesign the building on the computer and examine the new outdoor light effects. at the Hit Lab in Washington.

It was developed by Fraunhofer-LBF. lighting engineers use virtual reality to examine the effects of point lights. Using TriVis to visualize artificial clouds. This is useful in fields such as drug design. The image at left is a small 32 . meteorologists can predict weather with increased accuracy. TriVis has been used in television weather forecasts since 1993. Voxel Data ISVAS is an interactive software program that is utilized to analyze 3D and voxel data. precipitation data and fronts information. The molecules are rendered through a molecular dynamics simulation program. TriVis accepts data from meteorological services such as satellite data. The data gathered and analyzed by the TriVis system is used by television weather reporters to show their audiences storm systems. scientists can analyze vector or scalar values. Using this program. Weather Simulation Fraunhaufer-IGD has developed a visualization system for weather forecasting called "TriVis". immersive environment. It then analyzes this data and uses fractal functions to create projections of storm systems. stick model and CPK model. spotlights and other indoor light sources. An interior designer could examine how light will affect different room arrangements. RealMol displays molecules in three ways: ball and stick model. statistically corrected forecast data. A similar program was used by students at UCSD to analyze the voxel data obtained when observing the solar winds. Chemistry Real Mol is a program that uses virtual reality to show molecular models in an interactive.In addition to outdoor light. The scientist who uses the program wears a cyberglove and a head mounted display to interact with the molecular system. Using RealMol scientists can move molecules or protein chains to create new molecules.

or not be feasible to construct at all. such as the Computer Science department. provided that the virtual reality system is put to use in the classroom. the Mechanical Engineering department and the Architecture department. The above scenario is not some introduction to a John Grisham suspense novel.) Stevenson from the Department of Computer Science at Clemson University came to the Geometry Center and talked about applications of Geometry with computers. but a real story at Clemson University. Suppose further that the administration actually believes that this is a wonderful idea and approves the proposal. Recently Steve (D.version of the visualization of the voxel data that depicts the solar wind patterns.E. The departments using the system range from those which traditionally might use virtual reality. Steve mentioned briefly how various departments had been using the virtual reality system they acquired. The faculty eagerly agree to this condition. to fields not generally associated with the technology such as the Biomedical Engineering department and the Performing Arts department. and to their amazement they acquire the funds to purchase an SGI Onyx 2 Reality Engine and 10 SGI Indigos. Other Applications of Virtual Reality Flight Simulator Museums and Cultural Heritage Financial Data Training: Hubble Telescope On the Net: VR Resources Eighteen professors from five departments decide to work together and submit a request for a virtual reality system. All these disciplines' projects use the technology in ways that create images and objects that otherwise would take a long time to construct. and showed specific examples of what they had done with them. 33 .

One interesting example is that of an image of a Pelvis taken from an MRI. People in the Performing Arts department use virtual reality for Stage Lighting and Stage Design Courses. One is able to design or input given data about an object and actually create a prototype made out of polymers of the object viewed in the virtual reality. "what if?" Some of the other projects involving engineering are simulation-based design. and modeling for resource management. piped into the virtual reality software so that one is able to view it. involve stereolithography or 3D printing. Although these are all things that CAD/CAE software allows. Projects in the Architecture department include creating a virtual reality model of campus. and a laboratory on building design. 34 . the virtual reality system gives a user a more natural way to view an object.In particular. Instead of clicking keystrokes to try to alter perspective views. In the Biomedical Engineering department some of the projects mentioned are use of virtual reality for viewing of X-RAY's and MRI's. and then a model of the bone is manufactured using the polymer machine. Moreover one is able to look through different layers of an object to view how the device is operating internally. which accordingly allows one to easier ask the question. a user is able to wear a helmet and by moving their head around are able to view an object as if it were before them. Of the above projects. In the Computer Science department some of the projects range from creating a toolkit for non-computer science designers. and even having students perform test surgery. two of the more interesting applications common to both Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. Lastly one professor dreams of creating a simulation of the famous Tacoma Narrows bridge collapsing so that Civil and Mechanical Engineers can fully appreciate the consequences of their errors. using stereolithography to make prototypes of joints. rendering and 3-D lighting. viewing non-euclidean geometries. software is currently under development for Mechanical Engineering students that extends CAD/CAE software to virtual reality. The following figure is a virtual reality image of this pelvis. multipurpose design optimization and visualization in High Performance Computing-Computer Formulated Design structures.

The Computer Science department has also created some interesting programs. a tiled floor. Oliver's Room also is a high resolution room. turn on lights. an Impressionist painting on the wall. 35 .Similarly. In this room. and place objects by voice or mouse commands. Two software programs are titled Steve's Room and Oliver's Room. one can see in high resolution. The virtual reality machines nicely compliment the polymer machine. thus saving on the production costs of making a prototype. a model of a "ship in a bottle" was created using CAD/CAE software viewed through the virtual reality software. and a window with a view of mountains. One is able to thoroughly view an object before making a prototype. The following picture is a view of Oliver's Room. Steve's Room is a program which allows the user via the helmet to look around a room. and then made.

and more importantly. However.As with Steve's Room. The next picture is an image of what one might see through the helmet after a request to move has been made. they have provided themselves. an opportunity to use computer systems today that will no doubt be commonplace in the future. both in a practical sense and in a pure aesthetic sense. The images created are useful in understanding the structure of an object. what is equally impressive is that various departments were able to get together and pool their resources so that this system could be acquired. 36 . as well as being suitable for framing. The visual results from these projects are amazing. the user is able via voice commands to move about the room. their students. By doing this.

never knowing the world they live in is but a dream. there is also a scientist. Fiction books Many science fiction books and movies have imagined characters being "trapped in virtual reality". Galouye's novel Simulacron-3. but not total. which was made into a German teleplay titled Welt am Draht ("World on a Wire") in 1973 and into a movie titled The Thirteenth Floor in 1999. such as allowing the paralysed to experience the illusion of movement while stimulating unused muscles. as well as virtual realities' dangers. Other science fiction books have promoted the idea of virtual reality as a partial. where they grow up. They are not aware of this. substitution for the misery of reality (in the sense that a pauper in the real world can be a prince in VR). because their minds exist within a shared. One of the first modern works to use this idea was Daniel F. Among the beings trapped inside his created virtual world. Stanislaw Lem wrote a short story in early 1960 called "dziwne skrzynie profesora Corcorana” in which he presented a scientist who devised a completely artificial virtual reality. idealized virtual world known as Dream Earth. whom he must stop to save a fellow trapped player with diabetes slowly succumbing to insulin shock. This novel toys with the idea of both the potential positive therapeutic uses. who also devised such machines creating another level of virtual world.Mass Media:Mass media has been a great advocate and perhaps a great hindrance to its development over the years. During the research “boom” of the late 1980s into the 1990s the news media's prognostication on the potential of VR — and potential overexposure in publishing the predictions of anyone who had one (whether or not that person had a true perspective on the technology and its limits) — built up the expectations of the technology so high as to be impossible to achieve under the technology then or any technology to date. Entertainment media reinforced these concepts with futuristic imagery many generations beyond contemporary capabilities. or have touted it as a method for creating breathtaking virtual worlds in which one may escape from Earth's now toxic atmosphere. The Piers Anthony novel Killobyte follows the story of a paralyzed cop trapped in a virtual reality game by a hacker. and die. live. 37 .

published between 1996 and 2001 and set in the 2070s. in which programmer Jerzy Rugby uses VR for robot design and testing. This kind of virtual world was later to be realised as Second Life. The series follows the tale of a group of people who. themselves totally into these worlds to escape the tedium of their lives as colonists on other planets of the solar system. In True Names characters interact with each other in a complete world where they can have homes and work and are represented using avatars. The Otherland series of 4 novels by Tad Williams. 38 . people immerse. it is so powerful it introduces their worst nightmares. Another use of VR is in the teenage book "The Reality Bug" by D.An early short science fiction story — "The Veldt" — about an all too real "virtual reality" was included in the 1951 book The Illustrated Man. while investigating a mysterious illness attacking children while in VR. or 'translate'. find themselves trapped in a virtual reality system of fantastic detail and sophistication unlike any the world has ever imagined. where the inhabitants of a territory can have their own perfect virtual world. people can connect directly into this future VR environment. small physical representations of the world exact in every detail complete with dolls. a virus is introduced that should make it slightly less than perfect. Vernor Vinge's True Names. With the help of an interface in the form of a drug. Other popular fictional works that use the concept of virtual reality include William Gibson's Neuromancer which defined the concept of cyberspace. which was launched in 2003. and eventually physically breaks out of the computer until it is shut down. Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. However.J MacHale. To cause everyone to spend less time there. published in 1981. with the help of surgical implants. imagines a virtual world which is probably the first to represent a metaverse as it was later to be characterised by such authors as William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. causing everyone to neglect the real world. and Rudy Rucker's The Hacker and the Ants. by Ray Bradbury and may be the first fictional work to fully describe the concept. in which he made extensive reference to the term avatar to describe one's representation in a virtual world. show a world where the Internet has become accessible via virtual reality and has become so popular and commonplace that. Phillip K Dick's 1964 The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch includes Perky Pat 'layouts'.

however. Beyond a Joke. In Japan and Hong Kong. Other episodes that feature Virtual reality include Gunmen of the Apocalypse. Channel 4's Gamesmaster (1992 – 1998) also used a VR headset in its "tips and cheats" segment. An anime series known as Serial Experiments Lain included a virtual reality world known as "The Wired" that eventually co-existed with the real world. Several episodes featured a holodeck. The first major American television series to showcase virtual reality was Star Trek: The Next Generation. Children's television show Are You Afraid Of The Dark? uses the concept of virtual reality as the premise of the episode "The Tale Of The Renegade Virus" (1993). holograms. and the devastating effects to the economy it causes after a major crash leaves millions of users in a coma and some dead. This story. One difference from current virtual reality technology. Stoke Me a Clipper. and transporters were used to actually recreate and place objects in the holodeck. introduced a dream-like computer-generated reality known as the Matrix (no relation to the film — see below). Blue. and Back in the Red. first broadcast in 1976. Virtual reality has also been featured in other Red Dwarf episodes including Back to Reality. based on the series' episodes. featuring a plot where the main characters had spent many years connected to the game. of the same name. however it also shows the urban decay that obsession with VR has caused. a virtual reality facility that enabled its users to recreate and experience anything they wanted. 39 . This was elaborated on in the book. as is done today.Alexander Besher's Rim: A Novel of Virtual Reality is similar to Otherland. Cult British BBC2 sci-fi series Red Dwarf featured a virtual reality game titled Better Than Life. Television Perhaps the earliest example of virtual reality on television is a Doctor Who serial "The Deadly Assassin". was that replicators. the first anime series to use the idea of virtual reality was Video Warrior Laserion (1984). where venom from the despair squid caused the characters to believe all their experiences on Red Dwarf had been part of a VR simulation. rather than illusions of physical objects. force fields.

Ram. The tribes would battle each other in the Virtual World in a "game" designed by the leader of The Techno's. In the anime version of Yu-Gi-Oh!. It was presented by Craig Charles.BBC 2's Cyberzone (1993) was the first true "virtual reality" game show. The Tribe featured the arrival of a new tribe to the city. similar in concept but with a different set of rules. In both arcs. In 2002. In 2005. FOX's VR. including simulated monsters. broadcasted for more than 20 million viewers weekly. Series 4 of hit New Zealand teen sci-fi TV Series. In 2010 Caprica a science fiction television series introduce a fully immersed virtual reality world that the main character ventures in. the effects of VR on the people turned nasty when they started to fight in the real world as well. Motion pictures 40 .hack multimedia franchise is based on a virtual reality MMORPG ironically dubbed "The World" The French animated series Code Lyoko is based on the virtual world of Lyoko and the Internet. The popular . after too much use made them unable to tell the difference between what was real and what was virtual. used what appeared to be mistakes in technology as part of the show's on-going mystery. Later. where the players must use their cards to work their way through a series of story-based challenges. However. the bodies of the humans entering the virtual world are confined to special pods for the duration of their stay there.5 (1995) starring Lori Singer and David McCallum. Brazilian's Globo TV features a show where VR helmets are used by the attending audience in a space simulation called Conquista de Titã. another anime-only arc forces the heroes to enter another virtual world. The Technos. The virtual world is accessed by large scanners which use an atomic process which breaks down the atoms of the person inside. one three-part episode sees the heroes entering a virtual world based on the game Duel Monsters. digitizes them and recreates an incarnation on Lyoko. They tried to gain power by introducing Virtual Reality to the city.

One of the non-Sci Fi movies that uses VR as a story driver is 1994's Disclosure. that escapes his virtual reality into the real world.Steven Lisberger's 1982 movie TRON was the first mainstream Hollywood picture to explore the idea. Cyberspace became something that most movies completely misunderstood. starring Michael Douglas and based on the Michael Crichton book of the same name. used to train law enforcement personnel. There is also a film from 1995 called "Virtuosity" with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe that dealt with the creation of a serial killer. Another movie that has a bizarre theme is Brainscan. sky-dive. One year later. where the point of the game is to be a virtual killer. This idea was also used in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. James Cameron's 2009 movie Avatar depicts a future time when people's consciousness are virtually transported into biologically grown avatars. as seen in The Lawnmower Man. Johnny Mnemonic uses extensive VR. Games 41 . A VR headset is used as a navigating device for a prototype computer filing system. Music videos The lengthy video for hard rock band Aerosmith's 1993 single "Amazing" depicted virtual reality. and embark on a motorcycle journey together. A more artistic and philosophical perspective on the subject can be seen in Avalon.David Cronenberg's film EXistenZ dealt with the danger of confusion between reality and virtual reality in computer games. it would be more fully expanded in the Natalie Wood film Brainstorm. going so far as to show two young people participating in virtual reality simultaneously from their separate personal computers (while not knowing the other was also participating in it) in which the two engage in a steamy makeout session. Written by William Gibson himself. depicting Keanu Reeves playing a "cyber-courier" (Johnny Mnemonic) who smuggles data in his brain.

PlayStation. In the Mage: The Ascension role-playing game. uppercuts. Metal Gear Solid bases heavily on VR usage. Grid Busters (shoot-em-up). Virtual Reality I Glasses Personal Display System is a visor and headphones headset that is compatible with any video input including 3D broadcasting. while Wireless TV Virtual Reality Boxing includes boxing gloves that the player wears and jabs with. Aura Interactor Virtual Reality Game Wear is a chest and back harness through which the player can feel punches. Also. Bob Ladrach brought Virtual Knight into the major theme park arcades in 1994. slam-dunks. This was a stand-up immersive HMD platform with a tracked 3D joystick. the mage tradition of the Virtual Adepts is presented as the real creators of VR. etc. the company (originally W Industries. and usable with most game systems (Nintendo. demonstrating the adverse effects on human health and possible viruses. the .hack series centers on a virtual reality video game. explosions. including a comatose state that some players assume.). Hero (VR puzzle).Classic Virtual reality HMD with glove In 1991. The system featured several VR games including Dactyl Nightmare (shoot-em-up). either as a part of the plot (particularly Metal Gear Solid 2 which focuses on the blur between reality and 42 . scrapping their physical bodies in favour of improved virtual ones. Virtual Reality Wireless TV Tennis Game comes with a toy tennis racket that senses the player's swing. It works with Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Legend Quest (adventure and fantasy). and bodyblows. crashes. later renamed) Virtuality licenced the Amiga 3000 for use in their VR machines and released a VR gaming system called the 1000CS. kicks. Virtual Reality World 3D Color Ninja game comes with headset visor and ankle and wrist straps that sense the player's punches and kicks. The Adepts' ultimate objective is to move into virtual reality. This shows the potentially dangerous side of virtual reality.

Rita Addison. Virtual Museum (1991). in works like Is God Flat (1994). Golden Calf(1994). various business and corporate events employ Virtual Reality providers to attract business and entertain their employees and guests. Of all these developments. All mentioned artists are documented in the Database of Virtual Art. Marketing 43 . and Brenda Laurel. or simply to guide the players through training sessions. Attractions The developer of theme park style attractions using Virtual Reality technology was a major part of the development of the hardware — moving beyond simulation towards an immersive entertainment experience. The Tunnel under the Atlantic (1995). Jacki Morie. As the technology improves and becomes more mainstream. Knowbotic Research. Other pioneering artists working in VR have include Luc Courchesne. In Black and White users could download a patch to use the P5 glove to control the game. His early work was done on mainframes at III. Jeffrey Shaw explored the potential of VR in fine arts with early works like Legible City (1989). Making Virtual Reality attractions mobile has also been on the forefront of their consumer appeal.virtual reality). World Skin (1997). generation and intelligent agents. In System Shock. philosophical or political content. combining VR. Fine Art David Em was the first fine artist to create navigable virtual worlds in the 1970s. Rebecca Allen. Its sequel. System Shock 2 also features some minor levels of VR. the player has implants making him able to enter into a kind of cyberspace. Perry Hoberman. Maurice Benayoun's work introduced metaphorical. JPL and Caltech. the Walt Disney 'DisneyQuest' venue is the major conceptual application — still operational in 2009. network. Canadian artist Char Davies created immersive VR art pieces Osmose (1995) and Ephémère (1998).

The NES Power Glove by Mattel from the 1980s was an early example as well as the U-Force and later. While this sounds counterintuitive. virtual reality is finding its way into the training of health care professionals. given that much of the progress in 3D computer graphics and virtual environment development (traditional hallmarks of VR) has been driven by the gaming industry over the last decade. exposure to the subject of the trauma or fear seems to lead to desensitization. especially gaming licenses. Health care education While its use is still not widespread. with varying degrees of success. Navy to use a much more complex simulation to immerse veterans (specifically of Iraq) suffering from PTSD in simulations of urban combat settings. or a systemic change in stress response.A side effect of the chic image that has been cultivated for virtual reality in the media is that advertising and merchandise have been associated with VR over the years to take advantage of the buzz. Use ranges from anatomy instruction to surgery simulation. 44 . TV commercials featuring VR have also been made for other products. Marketing ties between VR and video games are to be expected. which is now thought by many to be a result of changes either to the limbic system in particular.S. Annual conferences are held to examine the latest research in utilizing virtual reality in the medical fields. featuring a teenager playing tennis using a goggle and gloves system against a computer generated by am co-operation. Much as in phobia treatment. This is often seen in product tie-ins with cross-media properties. however. ranging from phobia treatments. A much more recent application is being piloted by the U. to newer approaches to treating PTSD. A very basic VR simulation with simple sight and sound models has been shown to be invaluable in phobia treatment (notable examples would be various zoophobias. and a significant reduction in symptoms. Therapeutic uses The primary use of VR in a therapeutic role is its application to various forms of exposure therapy. talk therapy has limited benefits for people with PTSD.. the Sega Activator. and acrophobia) as a step between basic exposure therapy such as the use of simulacra and true exposure. such as Nike's "Virtual Andre" in 1997.

Examples of this robotic applications are for upper limbs. Examples for lower limb rehabilitation robot and haptic devices used with virtual reality systems are Lokomat (from Hocoma Company) and Haptic Walker from Reading University. or Manus from MIT. a science-fiction drama set in a virtual world. Researchers use haptic devices and rehabilitation robots with virtual reality games to improve motivation during exercises. Armeo form Hocoma. An example of haptic device for upper limbs rehabilitation is Curictus.Another research field for the use of Virtual Reality is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Occupational Therapy. Radio In 2009. Planet B is the largest ever commission for an original drama programme. 45 . British digital radio station BBC Radio 7 broadcasted Planet B. Virtual Reality is being tested in upper and lower limb motor rehabilitation after stroke and spinal cord injuries. and also for cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Gentle from Reading University.

In the short run. The audio capabilities will move into a new realm of three dimensional sound. Within existing technological limits. This refers to the addition of sound channels both above and below the individual or a Holophony approach. complete with smells. 46 . sight and sound are the two senses which best lend themselves to high quality simulation. There are however attempts being currently made to simulate smell.8. the graphics displayed in the HMD will soon reach a point of near visual (but not behavioral) realism. FUTURE It is difficult to predict the future of virtual reality with confidence. The purpose of current research is linked to a project aimed at treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in veterans by exposing them to combat simulations.

Thus far basic. In order to engage the other sense of taste. of Tokyo. Sony has conducted tests and says that it is a good idea. But as new trials and applications are tried out and more data gathered. Sony went public with the information that they had filed for and received a patent for the idea of the non-invasive beaming of different frequencies and patterns of ultrasonic waves directly into the brain to recreate all five senses. and smell is unlikely to be a goal in the industry. On April 7. and so-forth have been made. the U. Virtual reality is a costly development in technology. Sony has taken the first step. requires costly research and development to make each odor. 47 . the future of VR is dependent on whether or not those costs can be reduced in some way. cordite. It is worth mentioning that simulating smells. sight. There has been research to show that this is possible. If VR technology becomes affordable.S. there were artifacts of virtual reality.Although it is often seen in the context of entertainment by popular culture. it could be very widespread but for now major industries are the sole buyers that have the opportunity to utilize this resource. and engineering demands. this illustrates the point that the future of VR is very much tied into therapeutic. 2005. Because of this. a full sensory immersion beyond basic tactile feedback. has just finished testing an Internet-connected odor-delivery system to be used by retailers and restaurants to attract customers. Although no form of this has been seriously developed at this point. and very strong smells such as burning rubber. while it can be done very realistically. For example. Navy's 1944 Whirlwind computer project to create a flight simulator was the first use of a graphical display generated by computer on a cathode ray tube (CRT). and the machine itself is expensive and specialized. training. using capsules tailor made for it. which only offers images and sounds”. Long before there was the Internet. the brain must be manipulated directly. sound. Hamada says he is sure the technology “will take communications to a new level in content richness. Given that fact. This would move virtual reality into the realm of simulated reality like the brain interface ports used in The Matrix. compared to today's communications. Japan's NTT Communications. gasoline fumes.

There scientists. they can study pollution emission. Introduced by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1992. there are VR rooms where researchers dabble with data in 3-D and VR devices that can help people overcome simple fears. Already. conduct psychological testing. The standard is still the display you place on your head. Two versions of CAVE — for CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment — are found at Cornell University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. analyze architectural site plans and test handling procedures for hazardous material. working with people who have simple phobias. The second is known as BOOM — Binocular OmniOrientation Monitor — an instrument that looks like a delicately balanced periscope that the user grasps and moves in any direction. For example. Beyond entertainment and flight simulation. The language of 3-D or virtual reality — VRML (pronounced "vermal") for Virtual Reality Modeling Language — was created in 1994 by Mark Pesce and Tony Parisi. the CAVE lets engineers and scientists visualize and manipulate complex data. it is a room with images projected on three walls as well as on the floor. use virtual reality as part of therapy to modify behavior.Fast-forward nearly 60 years and virtual reality — a collection of digital and graphic techniques used to build computer worlds. simulate surgery. experiment with package design. a surround sound for the mind. Users move inside what is called the CAVE and view the images with stereo glasses. design vehicle interiors and exteriors. the virtual reality theater on the popular television series Star Trek. The acronym CAVE also refers to the metaphor of reality and appearance used by the Greek philosopher Plato in his dialogue The Republic. As they move. a supercomputer updates the images and the perspective. as it were — still fascinates with its promise. 48 . The technology now allows us to experience VR in at least three ways. Another intriguing use of VR is under way at the Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences Department at Brown University. The third resembles the Holodeck. And it works with HTML — the HyperText Markup Language tagging structure used to build the World Wide Web. what appears to be advanced life-form sunglasses.

In the past. distortion and lag — the delay in resolving an image as you move your head from side to side — of traditional magnetic-based motion tracking systems. Where is the technology heading? For Michael Donfrancesco. For example. We may all wear personal headsets that allow us to walk through scenes we now see in two dimensions on our computer monitors. Unlike the traditional systems. down and around through 360 degrees to explore their virtual environment. teachers and children playing video games interact with 3-D virtual images. the trend is toward sophistication. His company's products let designers. a firm that makes real-time motion tracking devices like headsets. snakes. 49 . The company was founded in 1996 by Eric Foxlin. miniaturization and enhanced visualization. he prefers to speak of augmented reality rather than virtual reality. scientists. lets users look up. a senior executive with InterSense. wearing a headset that tracks motion and strapped in a typical airline seat complete with vibrations. not only did metal objects cause interference. mice and insects — all the way to fear of doctors and laboratories. assembly line workers. artists. He says we will soon be immersed inside the Internet. interacting with it virtually in three dimensions. a form of motion sickness caused by image lag.For example. On the distant horizon are efforts at virtual reality therapy to treat a range of phobias. He sees it used not only on the Internet but in television studios to create virtual sets or backgrounds. their InterTrax2. the InterSense products are unaffected by electrical or magnetic interference. a lightweight headset which retails for $995. Thus. which reduced the effectiveness of the VR application. from those involving elevators and escalators — not to mention dogs. but users often became nauseous from simulator sickness. an MIT researcher whose academic work helped reduce the jitter. you can use them near monitors or large metal structures. In fact. a person can be exposed in a managed environment to sensations that simulate air travel to help her overcome a fear of flying.

50 . it is a solution searching for applications that entice or excite consumers and business.The company says its patented technology jump-starts the next generation of e-commerce. entertainment. like most technology under development today. distance learning. design and manufacturing. Yet.

Fig: Concept design of a mobile Virtual Cocoon. Smell. Scientists from the Universities of York and Warwick now believe they have been able to pinpoint the necessary expertise to make this possible. in a project called 'Towards Real Virtuality'. 'Real Virtuality' is a term coined by the project team to highlight their aim of providing a 'real' experience in which all senses are stimulated in such a way that the user has a fully immersive perceptual experience. Hear. 51 .First Virtual Reality Technology To Let You See. Virtual Reality devices have not been able to stimulate simultaneously all five senses with a high degree of realism. though. during which s/he cannot tell whether or not it is real. Taste And Touch To date.

Bradford and Brighton to develop the 'Virtual Cocoon' – a new Real Virtuality device that can stimulate all five senses much more realistically than any other current or prospective device. It could help unlock the full potential benefits of Real Virtuality in fields such as education. we aim to closely evaluate the full. as a result of the improved computing and electronics they develop." A key objective will be to optimize the way all five senses interact. Professor David Howard of the University of York. says: "Virtual Reality projects have typically only focused on one or two of the five senses – usually sight and hearing. far-reaching economic and other implications of more widespread application of Real Virtuality technologies for society as a whole. Professor David Howard says: "In addition to the technical development of the Virtual Cocoon. Tactile devices will provide touch. more comfortable and less expensive than existing devices. There has been considerable public debate on health & safety as well as on ethical issues surrounding Real Virtuality. A mock-up of the Virtual Cocoon will be on display at 'Pioneers 09'. Taste and smell are closely linked but we intend to provide a texture sensation relating to something being in the mouth. "Smell will be generated electronically via a new technique being pioneered by Alan Chalmers and his team at Warwick which will deliver a pre-determined smell recipe on-demand. The team also aims to make the Virtual Cocoon much lighter. business and environmental protection." 52 . an EPSRC showcase event to be held at London's Olympia Conference Centre on March 4. as in real life.Teams at York and Warwick now aim to link up with experts at the Universities of Bangor. lead scientist on the initiative. We're not aware of any other research group anywhere else in the world doing what we plan to do. since this kind of technology fundamentally involves immersing users in virtual environments that separate them from the real world. For the user the 'Virtual Cocoon' will consist of a headset incorporating specially developed electronics and computing capabilities.

interpersonal communication.” resulting in important changes in economics. and to promote social stability as we move from one stage in socio-political development to the next. virtual genetics).  The design of virtual environments may be used to extend basic human rights into virtual space.  53 .  As we spend more and more time in virtual space.9.  Techniques will be developed to influence human behavior.. IMPACT OF VIRTUAL REALITY There has been increasing interest in the potential social impact of new technologies. in his book. such as virtual reality (as may be seen in utopian literature. and culture. within the social sciences. and in popular culture). Power. published in 2005. Cline. to promote human freedom and well-being. and cognition (i. and Immortality: The Future of Virtual Reality. there will be a gradual “migration to virtual space. Mychilo S. argues that virtual reality will lead to a number of important changes in human life and activity.e. worldview. Madness. He argues that: Virtual reality will be integrated into daily life and activity and will be used in various human ways.

The Potential Impact of Virtual Reality in Various Psychosocial Domains: Although much might be said concerning the impact of VR on such domains as education (e.g., Murray, 1997;Wertheim, 2004) and health care (Nagourney, 2004; Wiederhold & Wiederhold, 2005), I prefer to focus here on three important domains that are often slighted in discussions of this type. The domains I focus on are private experience, home and family, and religion and spirituality. 9.1 Private Experience I will begin with a domain that I label “private experience.” By this term, I mean a large category of human life, that which occurs outside of the contexts of work, social service, one’s worship community, and the family. Basically, private experience is what one does and experiences when no one else is watching. Perhaps ironically, a consideration of the societal impact of VR must include a consideration of private experience. In considering the potential impact of VR on private experience, I wish to apply an interpretive framework that is controversial in its own right: Freudian psychoanalytic theory. In doing this, I am aware that in many circles Freud is considered problematic, inaccurate, or passé. However, it is also true that, in some sense, “we all speak Freud” (Gay, 1989, p. xiii); many of Freud’s ideas are well known in American society and form a basis for common discussion. It is fair to say that many of Freud’s concepts have at least an heuristic value. From this angle, several Freudian notions cast VR in a very interesting light. In particular, these involve the notion of primary instincts, and the role of delayed gratification in the development of both individual personality and social structure. Freud postulated the existence of two primary instincts, Eros and Thanatos, or, crudely put, sex and death (Freud, 1923/1961b). For our purposes, it may be useful to recast these as primal impulses for sexuality and aggression.(These hypothetical impulses are, at the least, compatible with contemporary conceptions of evolutionary psychology; see Buss, 1995, 1996.) On the one hand, Freud considered these urges to be primary, primal, and powerful. On the other hand, for Freud, the very pillars of society involve the suppression, repression, and sublimation of these primal urges. As Freud put it, “a progressive renunciation of
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constitutional instincts, whose activation might afford the ego primary pleasure, appears to be one of the foundations of the development of human civilization” (Freud, 1907/1995a, p. 435). For Freud, the whole process of socialization involves redirecting the child’s energy away from immediate gratification, and towards delayed gratification. This is necessary in order to move the child away from operating on the basis of the pleasure principle (basically, a combination of ‘if it feels good, do it,’ and ‘I want it all, and I want it now’) and towards operating on the basis of the reality principle (the idea that behavior should address external or real world constraints, demands, and opportunities). Without delay of gratification to strengthen the adherence to the reality principle, in Freud’s scheme, there would be little work, certainly no art, no science, no social organization above that of the family (if that), actually no civilization at all. (See: Freud, 1911/1995b, 1930/1961a.) In the future world that I have described, VR will place many impulses within reach of instant virtual gratification, with no immediate social or legal consequences. By doing this, VR will radically change some of the fundamental rules on which the game of life has been played throughout the entire length of human history. Surely this may have momentous social consequences. What will these be? The issue of impulse gratification is worth consideration by itself. Will the immediate gratification of impulses available on VR make people less capable of delaying gratification in the real world? Or, will the release of tension provided by gratification in the virtual world make people more capable of focusing on work and life in the real world? Or, as is so often the case today, will we see one outcome with certain personality configurations, and the other with different personality configurations? Beyond the matter of impulse gratification generally are the issues of aggressive and sexual impulses specifically. Let us consider these separately. 9.1.1 Aggressive Impulses Will the acting out of violent or aggressive scenarios in the virtual world make us more likely to act violently or aggressively in the real world? Or, will the release of violent impulses make us more peaceful in the real world? Or, here again, will it be one way for some sorts of people, and a different way for others?

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The first two of these points of view are well expressed in the episode of The X-Files to which I made reference earlier. In the episode, the protagonists are discussing an immersive first-person-shooter-type seamless VR game. SCULLY: Mulder, what - what purpose does this game serve except to add to a culture of violence in a country that's already out of control? MULDER: Who says it adds to it? SCULLY: You think that taking up weapons and creating gratuitous virtual mayhem has any redeeming value whatsoever? I mean, that the testosterone frenzy that it creates stops when the game does? MULDER: That's rather sexist, isn't it? (Beat. Scully won’t go there, so Mulder takes a different tack.) I mean, maybe the game provides an outlet for certain impulses, that it fills a void in our genetic makeup that the more civilizing effects of society failed to provide for. SCULLY: Well, that must be why men feel the great need to blast the crap out of stuff. (Gibson, Maddox, & Carter, 2000; unofficial transcript) Evidence from social science research is not hopeful in this regard. Exposure to violent video games seemed to increase interpersonal aggression, at least in the laboratory, for certain kinds of people (Anderson & Bushman, 2001; Anderson & Dill, 2000; Irwin & Gross, 1995; cp. Ivory, 2001). Participating in a violent VR game produced more aggressive thoughts than either watching this game or acting out the physical movements (Calvert & Tan, 1994); indeed, playing violent video games seems to lead people to think of themselves as more aggressive people overall (Uhlmann & Swanson, 2004). Pop folklore is also discouraging; as one Tshirt slogan puts it, among the pearls of wisdom that one learns from video games is the lesson that “there is no problem that cannot be overcome by violence” (“Everything,” n.d.). Humor like this is often a vehicle for conveying widespread but socially unacceptable attitudes. The issue of aggression, violence, and VR is one that deserves comprehensive research. 9.1.2 Sexual Impulses It appears to be the case that many people use the Internet to fulfill sexual needs, sometimes in ways that strongly suggest the need for professional therapeutic intervention (Cooper, 2002). How much more likely will it be the case
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I would point out that much sexuality in the VR realm is likely to include interactions with AI characters. However. Levin. 2004). then the potentially positive effects that Calvert has described might possibly occur. 674.. the concept of “Stepford wife” has been a part of American mainstream popular consciousness for over three decades (Goldman. Users also are engaged in an experience with another person. Rudnick. If the entity with whom one interacts intimately in a VR simulation is an avatar of another human. Some even get married in virtual ceremonies. acting essentially as a VR sex slave. allowing them to participate within the boundaries of a shared sexual fantasy rather than an individual one. citation omitted) As interesting as Calvert’s perspective is. How will the widespread availability of seamless (some would say zipless) VR sexuality affect the development of interpersonal skills and interactions between humans in the real world? (Regarding the term “zipless”: see Jong.that people will use VR to fulfill sexual needs. These fantasy relationships provide an opportunity for safe sex because there is no danger of contracting or spreading a sexually transmitted disease. 1972. p. e. Hyde & DeLamater. in particular. The availability of a compliant sexual slave seems to be a popular fantasy. not human ones. On the positive front. By knowing how a partner feels and what a partner enjoys. there are problems with extrapolating from the MUD experience of the present to the VR experience of the future. 2002. However popular this fantasy is. 1973. a player may become better able to interact with real partners by understanding their needs.) 57 . 2003). (Calvert. Calvert used the analogous experience of current Internet users interacting via multiuser domains (MUDs): In text-based Internet MUD applications.g. I anticipate that the AI characters involved will be programmed specifically to satisfy the human user’s expressed desire. this author suggested the possibility that people will be able to learn social skills through virtual environments (VE) that are transferable to real world contexts. especially when haptic sensing and haptic feedback mechanisms become more highly developed? Calvert (2002) has pointed out several issues involving the acting out of sexual impulses via VR. many characters meet online and engage in virtual sex. 1974. its attainment is not the way in which one should expect to gain the skills at interpersonal communication that are a foundational element of mature adult sexual relationships (see.

resulting in an increase in the divorce rate. 1981). they become desensitized to aggression in real life. or with a character who is a real person in another location? Will betrayal and infidelity be experienced? (Calvert. Lewis. Ethical issues. Guiterres. 1994. 1995). and disinhibited in regard to acting out aggressive impulses in real life. This would be a highly negative consequence. as less attractive (Kenrick. online option. one possible consequence of widespread seamless VR might be a weakening of marital and familial bonds. 2000). Even without the issue of violence involved. in the real world. et al. We have no reason to believe that it will be any different in regard to VR sexuality. Beyond this. 58 . Gagnon. experiences in the virtual world may create the expectation that the acting out of violent or sadistic impulses during sexual behavior is normal and should be met with by compliance from one’s partner. Such would be the extrapolation we might make from studies of the effect of printed or filmed pornographic images. & Goldberg. 2000. see also Funk. 1989). The anonymity afforded by cyberspace currently allows sexual deviants to act out with impunity. one’s partner should be expected to do anything one wishes.. & Michaels. the availability of VR sexuality might lead to deterioration of sexual relationships in the real world. given what we know about the longterm effects of divorce on the children of such marriages (e.Calvert also noted areas in which VR sexual experiences might have negative social effects. disinhibition. or their own partners. Michael. will also be experienced in virtual spaces. Wallerstein. Research cited earlier (Anderson & Dill. 2002. such as marital fidelity. without regard to one’s partner’s preferences. 1989. Issues of imitation. Thus. as people are exposed to violence in video games. these are not expectations that we should reinforce. That is. as well. exposure to such images in the laboratory seemed to make men rate “average” women. and desensitization may become serious issues as sexual activity becomes an immersive. 2003) suggests that. How will a person feel if their [sic] partner has virtual sex with an imaginary character. Such would be suggested by research conducted regarding exposure to violent pornographic films (Malamuth & Check.g. citation omitted) These issues should be considered at greater length. In a country that is already awash in sexual violence (Laumann. & Blakeslee. Schafran.. pp. 674-675. repeated immersion in VR sexual scenarios may strengthen the expectation that. Zillman.

Family and friends come by and visit. Perhaps there are children living in the home as well. sauna. recreation. Family life.In addition. a table that serves as both dining and work space. “Home. and other accoutrements.” in a real-world sense. which is intended to help individuals better adapt to the demands of the real world. they also pose inevitable challenges and frustrations. a closet. all of which fits into a studio apartment. VR. 9.2 Home and Family Most people marry and have children. One that seems plausible is that fewer people will marry and form family units. private helipad. Through this system. A single person. who may exist as an AI construct. Jane or John Smith. Smith lives in a mansion. This is a good point at which to consider specifically the domain of home and family. the resulting family groups have been the basic units of essentially all human cultures. consists of a chair or two. and adventure—almost every aspect of human life. What will happen when a VR simulation of this experience is available? The popularity of The Sims—“the bestselling computer game ever” (Hamilton. However. although the broader societal effects of large-scale divorce rates are only dimly known. How will the availability of virtual family life affect people’s desire or intention to pursue family life in the real world? Consider this scenario. and a personal hygiene area. Although marriage and family life have their benefits. but an attractive. ends work for the day and is at home. not only Smith. a bed. 59 . Certainly it would be ironic for VR technology. 2004. or perhaps based on AI constructs. a refrigerator. caring partner. to instead cause the deterioration of relationships in the real world. this home also includes a personal VR system. short of the intake of nutrition and the elimination of waste products—can be simulated through VR. But how will this affect the individual or society? One can imagine different possible outcomes here. a food preparation area. an Olympic-sized pool. perhaps based in distributed VR networks that enable Smith’s real-world friends to interact in real time. 78)—suggests that people want to try out alternative simulated lives and relationships. one cannot imagine that increasing the divorce rate would add to social stability. an entire family or extended family unit. on the other hand. can provide a virtual simulation of a stress-free life. In this mansion lives. with marble staircases. p.

it may be advisable to encourage virtual families in such areas. and eternally compliant with the wishes of the user of the VR system. of which the flip side is intolerance for frustration. it may be argued that the availability of an escape from reality. quoted in Heins & Bertin. such immersion might make people less willing. 2004. 2002). or even less capable. rather than a priori arguments. C. (Consider my earlier comments on instant gratification. 2004].One’s virtual partner can be programmed to be continually and unfailingly attentive.g. considerate. 2004. the current rates of birth in developed countries are so low as to instigate major negative consequences in society in coming years (Kotlikoff & Burns. Faiola. continual exposure to such a virtual world might raise unrealistic expectations concerning people in the real world. forever youthful. of dealing with the frustrations involved in participating in real-world marriages and family units.) A decrease in the rate at which marriages and family units are formed and maintained should be considered a major negative consequence. However. because a male surplus is associated with increased crime and even warfare [Hudson & den Boer. Frequent immersion in such a virtual world might allow one to escape from the tasks of adult life rather than attend to them. As it is. One’s virtual children can be programmed to be consistently polite and deferent. it seems counterintuitive to think that avoidance of the family might solve family problems. A development that would retard the formation of stable family units in which children would enter the world would exacerbate what will already be a difficult situation. infanticidal practices involving the selective murder of female infants has left a surplus male population. 60 .. e. this difference in perspectives underlines the importance of settling this question with empirical research. 2005).) Of course. Ultimately. (An exception to this would involve areas where longstanding sexist. would ‘let off steam’ and allow the person to deal with the frustrations of the real world more effectively (cf. in the long run. the opportunity to visit such a virtual world might be an enticing prospect for many people. Pearce. judiciously applied. It is difficult to see how this perspective would apply to this issue. In the short run. some other virtual character will change the diapers. However. Longman.

will the potentially greater amount of participation add to the spiritual lives of the people who enact these rituals? Will the process of being involved with an in-person worship community become passé? Or. It is another thing altogether to react in this virtual space with the gods themselves—something that VR can emulate. n. VR makes it possible to achieve total immersion in the holy languages of one’s tradition. What will it mean when spiritual rituals can be enacted virtually by anyone? At any time. whether that language be Sanskrit. No such consequences exist in the virtual world. It is one thing to interact with others in a virtual space. place. VR has the potential to heavily influence at least two of these. VR has the potential to take things in a very different direction than the Internet. In terms of knowledge. Casual investigation of the Internet suggests that many people like to involve themselves with their faith communities in a virtual way.g. regardless of time. it is yet another thing for one to become the embodiment of a god or goddess (the original meaning of “avatar”)—another experience that VR can emulate. and behavior (adapted from Glock. Latin. 1962).d. ritual.g. To go farther. as can be seen with other comparisons between the Internet and virtual environments. conflict with or even excommunication from one’s ‘home’ tradition). or one’s hierarchical status (e..). for example.g. What might be the societal consequences of such circumstances? One framework used in the academic psychology of religion frames religion and spirituality as having five dimensions: knowledge. VR would give one the opportunity to conduct almost any ritual. or Sindarin. or place? Will something be lost by divorcing rituals from their traditional context in time or space? Or. There is even a Roman Catholic pseudo-“diocese” that exists only in virtual space (Gaillot. will the experience of private spirituality change independently of the evolution of communal spirituality? One aspect of spirituality that may be transformed thoroughly is the matter of spiritual experimentation. and engage in the act of worshipping a god or goddess. In terms of ritual. being around strangers) or downright aversive (e. not being officially consecrated as clergy).. all the educational potential of VR is apparent here. Such experimentation in the real world sometimes carries social consequences that are uncomfortable (e. However. 61 .3 Religion and Spirituality We come finally to the realm of religion and spirituality. ideology..9. emotion.

. convert) from the religious communities of their heritage? If so. Will real world spiritual communities decline as virtual private spiritual pseudo-communities flourish? Or. and try it on for size. and virtual coworshippers (either avatars of real world humans. and populate it with ritual. For that matter. what will that do to traditions that have added some stability to their communities for millennia? 62 . In the VR world of 2025. of any time. however. some people already practice a form of what some sociologists call “supermarket religion. symbol.e. existing in the real world or in the imagination. as well.” picking what they want from this or that tradition.In American consumer culture. these opportunities will be considerably expanded. One may pick any tradition. will people try on the virtual experience and find that they now want to engage the real world counterpart? Will people reconfigure worship communities in a distributed VR environment? Will people more easily change (i. or AI constructs). one may create one’s own tradition. No doubt this will come with social consequences.

from the business world to the clothing industry. virtual reality will become cheaper and even more wide-spread. Like the Internet. this method cannot always be effectively used in the medical field. this method has been proven to give users feelings of nausea or drunkenness..and to train our children that violence and dishonesty" are wrong by showing the consequences of such actions. effort. People may experience a feeling of a loss of reality and a feeling of isolation as they interact with an artificial world. Because of its imprecision and disorientation due to hospital medical equipment. At first seen as a new method of entertainment. Virtual reality is hitting the world as the next dominant improvement in technology. Currently.. new jobs will open up in the field of designing virtual reality technology. It has even been suggested that in the future. In the years ahead. virtual reality is now being used in more and more applications. virtual reality can be used to "educate us to become aware of and to control..sights and sounds provided by a computer and in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment" . but is now becoming more and more versatile. He founded the CEO of VPL. Finally. virtual reality uses magnetic tracking to measure movements within an environment. Put more simply.. DRAWBACKS OF VIRTUAL REALITY With new technology also comes disadvantages . instead of a real world with real people. and money to implement. Just what is virtual reality? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as "an artificial environment which is experienced through. Jaron Lanier is the most famous of the so-called "pioneers" of virtual reality.emotions.. virtual reality is an extension of one’s senses--a way of interacting with and manipulating a computer-based environment. However. virtual reality can increase unemployment as fewer people are needed to design projects: products in their design stage no longer need to be built. However.10. virtual reality began with specific uses in mind. a company that was among the first to develop the technology. These techniques take time. This will enable hospitals to use virtual reality and decrease ill-effects of users.. 63 . Future virtual reality will make use of ultrasonic waves to track movements and activities in the artificial environments.

in Dallas. By making small incisions. the Air Force. and computer games. Now. 64 . and inserting a robotic arm. commercial airlines. In the future. simulations allow programmers to see products without having to build the actual product. NASA used virtual reality to simulate every imaginable situation that might occur in space to familiarize astronauts with the situations and consequently improved their performance and comfort level during unexpected occurrences. but was first used in 1997 to perform a gallbladder operation. a surgeon can move tools inside a patient without having to cut them open--reducing pain and recovery time. there is laser tag and games used by restaurants such as Dave and Busters. tour famous sites. entertainment. The military similarly uses virtual reality for simulated training. This technique is still a long way from everyday use. various industries. psychiatrists are using virtual reality to treat phobias by exposing patients to their fears in risk-free situations. In the design stage. saving money and time. Airlines use virtual reality to train pilots and factories use it to train employees working with dangerous equipment. Virtual reality allows students and adults to travel abroad. and medicine. Virtual reality advances are already being made in surgery. slap on a pair of VR goggles and there you are". where customers waiting for food can lead each other through virtual mazes. Entertainment has long used virtual reality through games such as Atari. and medical schools will use virtual reality more extensively for training purposes and the on-line clothing stores will use virtual reality to facilitate shopping and boost sales. In the medical field. Businesses use virtual reality to analyze data through the use of 3D charts and graphs. Nintendo. education. and learn all about them without leaving a room. Virtual reality education can take the forms of virtual tours and labs. watching 3D images taken by a camera inside the patient.Virtual reality is already being used in a wide range of fields: business. "If you can’t afford the time or the ticket to get to India and see the Taj Mahal. Automotive industries use virtual reality to test designs and safety and check for passenger comfort. the military. Virtual labs allow students to dissect animals without having to kill them and to perform experiments without requiring costly equipment.

along with telling engineers "what they can see and reach. reducing mistakes.review their work and enhance their skills. how comfortable they are. Land’s End has already placed a 3D woman online to allow customers to 65 . An aircraft manufacturer named Embraer has begun employing virtual pilots and passengers. military aviators will soon be using head-mounted displays called virtual retinal displays which will "allow pilots to see the surrounding environment while also accessing digital navigation cues and images that appear to float several feet away".000 points on the body and then projects an image of what clothes would look like on a person so that shoppers can try on clothes in their own homes..and learn and practice new techniques or procedures". Soon. surgeons will also be able to see and feel the results of each of his or her movements.. These techniques will "allow [the surgeons] to train in a safe. surgeons practice and hone their skills. called Jack. Similarly. and evaluate the maintainability of designs. While these changes are developing. The on-line clothing industry is also making advancements in virtual reality. predictable.. Jack has saved the company money. It is used to improve the ergonomics of the cockpit designs. and reproducible setting. A scanner measures 300. but some fear that this may threaten the "humanistic elements of the doctor-patient relationship" . Medical and nursing students will practice their skills on simulated patients before seeing actual patients. medical students are educated. Philip Treleaven is the leader in what might be called a "virtual changing room". why they’re getting hurt or tired.The future of virtual reality is looking very bright.. created by a human simulation software from Engineering Animation Inc. Developments in virtual reality will drastically change the way pilots fly and are trained. Finally. and other important information". virtual reality will allow physicians and their patients to simulate the surgery experience before actually undergoing it. and people shop. The medical field is developing ways to perform virtual surgery to train its surgeons. medical schools will replace complex diagrams with virtual skulls to learn more about the brain.. The Air Force is currently developing "peripheral vision displays" that convey information to pilots without them needing to look around them. Various fields are continuously looking for new ways to improve and expand their uses of virtual reality. and helped to deliver higher-quality airplanes.. it will take time and money to fully implement them. reduced time to market. Through the use of 3D glasses..

With all these advancements come numerous benefits. education. new jobs will open up in the field of designing virtual reality technology. effort. Despite these disadvantages. in the hopes that this would encourage more customers to buy.visualize how clothes would look on their bodies. Finally. But with new technology also comes disadvantages. These techniques take time. reduces time-to-market. CONCLUSION 66 . the benefits of using virtual reality far outweigh them. and money to implement. and increases competitive advantage. instead of a real world with real people. safety--through training of surgeons on virtual bodies. knowledge about foreign countries and patient care. 11. virtual reality can increase unemployment as fewer people are needed to design projects: products in their design stage no longer need to be built. It is a force that everyone needs to know about and be able to use. simulations of automobile and airplane designs. It will soon become a dominant force in all industries. People may experience a feeling of a loss of reality and a feeling of isolation as they interact with an artificial world. etc--. success rate of completing projects on time. Virtual reality reduces training costs and costs incurred by building actual products in the design phase. However. productivity. In order to fully utilize this technology people will have to become as familiar with it as they are with the Internet.

the low-cost PC system is comparable to one using an SGI Onyx2. The system as a whole can be maintained by a group of students who have only recently started learning about VR. into public and educational venues. The lightweight passive stereo glasses are less encumbering. 12.Affordable.000 to construct. we estimate that a new one could currently be built for about half that amount. and will probably soon become widespread. and less fragile. The entire system cost roughly $20. BIBLIOGRAPHY 67 . Our prototype display has now been functional and in use for most of a year. PC-driven projection based virtual reality systems are a popular topic of investigation right now. Our particular hope for such systems is that they will help expand VR out of the research and corporate labs. as well as day-to-day use. In basic performance tests. The LCD projectors and black screen provide a bright display with better contrast than older systems using CRT projectors. than active glasses.

uiuc.com/topics/advantages-and-disadvantages-ofvirtual-reality/0 http://www. 68 . 5.howstuffworks.com/essay_search/disadvantages_virtual.geom.html 2.wikipedia.allfreeessays.htm http://en.org/wiki/Virtual_reality http://www. 3. http://electronics. 4.1.exampleessays.com/gadgets/other-gadgets/virtualreality.edu/docs/forum/vr/ http://www.