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A Seminar report submitted
For the partial fulfillment of the degree of
Bachelor of Engineering in
Computer Engineering
(Session 2014-2015)

Seminar Coordinator: HOD - CSE: Submitted by:
Mrs. Narina Thakur Dr. Bindu Garg Gaurav Saxena(03811502711)

Department of Computer Engineering

The purpose of this report is to familiarize the readers with the concept of Virtual Reality(VR).
The report presents the readers with an introduction to virtual reality, early attempts at creating a
virtual reality system, various types of virtual reality system, components of a VR system,
devices used in a VR system and applications in various fields.


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Virtual reality (VR), sometimes referred to as immersive multimedia, is a computer-simulated
environment that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds.
Some basic definitions of Virtual Reality are:
1. Real-time interactive graphics with three-dimensional models, combined with a sdisplay
technology that gives the user the immersion in the model world and direct
2. The illusion of participation in a synthetic environment rather than external
observationof such an environment. VR relies on a three-dimensional, stereoscopic head-
tracker displays, hand/body tracking and binaural sound. VR is an immersive, multi-
sensory experience.
3. Computer simulations that use 3D graphics and devices such as the DataGlove to allow
the user to interact with the simulation.
4. Virtual reality refers to immersive, interactive, multi-sensory, viewer-centered, three-
dimensional computer generated environments and the combination of
technologiesrequired to build these environments.
5. Virtual reality lets you navigate and view a world of three dimensions in real time, with
six degrees of freedom. In essence, virtual reality is clone of physical reality.
There are two important terms that must be mentioned when talking about virtual reality,
telepresence and cyberspace. They are both tightly coupled with virtual reality, but have a
slightly different context:
1. Telepresence : Telepresence is a specific kind of virtual reality that simulates a real but
remote (in terms of distance or scale) environment. Another more precise definition says
that telepresence occurs when at the work site, the manipulators have the dexterity to
allow the operator to perform normal human functions; at the control station, the operator
receives sufficient quantity and quality of sensory feedback to provide a feeling of actual
presence at the worksite.
2. Cyberspace : Cybersoace was invented and defined by William Gibson as a consensual
hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators a
graphicsrepresentation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in human
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system. Today the term Cyberspace is rather associated with entertainment systems and
World Wide Web (Internet).

Concept of virtual reality has been around for decades, even though the public really only
became aware of it in the early 1990s. In the mid 1950s, a cinematographer named Morton
Heilig envisioned a theatre experience that would stimulate all his audiences senses, drawing
them in to the stories more effectively. He built a single user console in 1960 called the
Sensorama that included a stereoscopic display, fans, odor emitters, stereo speakers and a
moving chair. He also invented a head mounted television display designed to let a user watch
television in 3-D. Users were passive audiences for the films, but many of Heiligs concepts
would find their way into the VR field.
Philco Corporation engineers developed the first HMD in 1961, called the Headsight. The helmet
included a video screen and tracking system, which the engineers linked to a closed circuit
camera system. They intended the HMD for use in dangerous situations -- a user could observe a
real environment remotely, adjusting the camera angle by turning his head. Bell Laboratories
used a similar HMD for helicopter pilots. They linked HMDs to infrared cameras attached to the
bottom of helicopters, which allowed pilots to have a clear field of view while flying in the dark.
In 1965, a computer scientist named Ivan Sutherland envisioned what he called the Ultimate
Display. Using this display, a person could look into a virtual world that would appear as real as
the physical world the user lived in. This vision guided almost all the developments within the
field of virtual reality. Sutherlands concept included:
1. A virtual world that appears real to any observer, seen through an HMD and
augmented through three-dimensional sound and tactile stimuli
2. A computer that maintains the world model in real time
3. The ability for users to manipulate virtual objects in a realistic, intuitive way
In 1966, Sutherland built an HMD that was tethered to a computer system. The computer
provided all the graphics for the display (up to this point, HMDs had only been linked to
cameras). He used a suspension system to hold the HMD, as it was far too heavy for a user to
support comfortably. The HMD could display images in stereo, giving the illusion of depth, and
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it could also track the users head movements so that the field of view would change
appropriately as the user looked around.

Components of a virtual reality system include:
1. Effectors: Effectors are any type of interface device that provides access to a virtual
environment examples include head-mounted display devices, data gloves, 2d or 3d mice,
2d screens, and head phones.
2. Reality Simulator: It is the hardware that supplies the effectors with the necessary
sensory (visual or acoustic) information depending on the degree of immersion needed,
examples include Silicon Graphics Reality Engine workstations.
3. Application: Application is the software that describes the context of the simulation.
There is a wide variety of software depending on the system platforms including Intel
PC, Silicon Graphics (SGI), and Sun platforms. An examples of Intel based PC
software is Division (from AutoDesk).
4. Geometry: Geometry is the information that describes the physical attributes of objects
in the virtual environment. Basically geometry is built by CAD software. The most
common 3D modelling CAD is AutoCAD from AutoDesk that runs on Intel based
PC. CAD files can be exported to rendering and Virtual Reality authorising software on
the form of DXF as a drawing interchange format.

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In a virtual environment system a computer generates sensory impressions that are delivered to
the human senses. The type and the quality of these impressions determine the level of
immersion and the feeling of presence in virtual reality.
Ideally the high-resolution, high-quality and consistent over all the displays, information should
be presented to all of the users senses. Moreover, the environment itself should react
realistically to the users actions. The practice, however, is very different from this ideal case.
Many applications stimulate only one or a few of the senses, very often with low-quality and
unsynchronized information.
1. Window on World Systems (WoW) : Some systems use a conventional computer
monitor to display the visual world. This sometimes called Desktop virtual reality or a
Window on a World (WoW). This concept traces its lineage back through the entire
history of computer graphics. In 1965, Ivan Sutherland laid out a research program for
computer graphics in a paper called "The Ultimate Display" that has driven the field for
the past nearly thirty years.
2. Video Mapping : A variation of the WoW approach merges a video input of the user's
silhouette with a 2D computer graphic. The user watches a monitor that shows his body's
interaction with the world. Myron Kruger has been a champion of this form of VR since
the late 60's. He has published two books on the subject: "Artificial Reality" and
"Artificial Reality II".
3. Immersive Systems: The ultimate VR systems completely immerse the user's
personal viewpoint inside the virtual world. These "immersive" VR systems are often
equipped with a Head Mounted Display (HMD). This is a helmet or a face mask that
holds the visual and auditory displays. The helmet may be free ranging, tethered, or it
might be attached to some sort of a boom armature. A nice variation of the immersive
systems use multiple large projection displays to create a 'Cave' or room in which the
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viewer(s) stand.

4. Mixed Reality: Merging the Telepresence and Virtual Reality systems gives the
Mixed Reality or Seamless Simulation systems. Here the computer generated inputs are
merged with telepresence inputs and/or the users view of the real world. A surgeon's view
of a brain surgery is overlaid with images from earlier CAT scans and real-time
ultrasound. A fighter pilot sees computer generated maps and data displays inside his
fancy helmet visor or on cockpit displays.
1. Head Mounted Display (HMD): A head-mounted display or helmet mounted
display, both abbreviated HMD, is a display device, worn on the head or as part of a
helmet, that has a small display optic in front of one (monocular HMD) or each eye
(binocular HMD).
There is also an optical head-mounted display (OHMD), which is a wearable display that
has the capability of reflecting projected images as well as allowing the user to see
through it. A typical HMD has either one or two small displays with lenses and semi-
transparent mirrors embedded in a helmet, eyeglasses (also known as data glasses) or
visor. The display units are miniaturised and may include CRT, LCDs, Liquid crystal on
silicon (LCos), or OLED. Some vendors employ multiple micro-displays to increase total
resolution and field of view.
HMDs differ in whether they can display just a computer generated image (CGI), show
live images from the real world or a combination of both.
Most HMDs display only a computer-generated image, sometimes referred to as a virtual
image. Some HMDs allow a CGI to be superimposed on a real-world view. This is
sometimes referred to as augmented reality or mixed reality. Combining real-world view
with CGI can be done by projecting the CGI through a partially reflective mirror and
viewing the real world directly.
2. Binocular Omni-Orientation Monitor (BOOM): A head-coupled stereoscopic
display device. Screens and optical system are housed in a box that is attached to a multi-
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link arm. The user looks into the box through two holes, sees the virtual world, and can
guide the box to any position within the operational volume of the device. Head tracking
is accomplished via sensors in the links of the arm that holds the box. BOOM was created
by Fakespace Systems Inc.
3. Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE): A computer assisted virtual
environment (better known by the acronym CAVE) is an immersive virtual reality
environment where projectors are directed to three, four, five or six of the walls of a
room-sized cube. The name is also a reference to the allegory of the Cave in Plato's
Republic in which a philosopher contemplates perception, reality and illusion. A lifelike
visual display is created by projectors positioned outside the CAVE and controlled by
physical movements from a user inside the CAVE. A motion capture system records the
real time position of the user. Stereoscopic LCD shutter glasses convey a 3D image. The
computers rapidly generate a pair of images, one for each of the user's eyes, based on the
motion capture data. The glasses are synchronized with the projectors so that each eye
only sees the correct image. Since the projectors are positioned outside the cube, mirrors
are often used to reduce the distance required from the projectors to the screens. One or
more computers drive the projectors. Clusters of desktop PCs are popular to run CAVEs,
because they cost less and run faster.
4. Data Glove: A wired glove (sometimes called a "dataglove" or "cyberglove") is an
input device for humancomputer interaction worn like a glove. Various sensor
technologies are used to capture physical data such as bending of fingers. Often a motion
tracker, such as a magnetic tracking device or inertial tracking device, is attached to
capture the global position/rotation data of the glove. These movements are then
interpreted by the software that accompanies the glove, so any one movement can mean
any number of things. Gestures can then be categorized into useful information, such as
to recognize Sign Language or other symbolic functions. Expensive high-end wired
gloves can also provide haptic feedback, which is a simulation of the sense of touch. This
allows a wired glove to also be used as an output device. Traditionally, wired gloves have
only been available at a huge cost, with the finger bend sensors and the tracking device
having to be bought separately.
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1. Military
Virtual reality is used in military for training purposes, particularly for combat situations
or other dangerous settings where they have to learn how to react in an appropriate
A virtual reality simulation enables them to do so but without the risk of death or a
serious injury. They can re-enact a particular scenario, for example engagement with an
enemy in an environment in which they experience this but without the real world risks.
This has proven to be safer and less costly than traditional training methods.
Military uses of virtual reality include:
4. Flight simulation
5. Battlefield simulation
6. Medic training (battlefield)
7. Vehicle simulation
8. Virtual boot camp
Virtual reality is also used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers suffering from
battlefield trauma and other psychological conditions can learn how to deal with their
symptoms in a safe environment. The idea is for them to be exposed to the triggers for
their condition which they gradually adjust to. This has the effect of decreasing their
symptoms and enabling them to cope to new or unexpected situations.

2. Health Care
Healthcare is one of the biggest adopters of virtual reality which encompasses surgery
simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery and skills training. One of the advantages of
this technology is that it allows healthcare professionals to learn new skills as well as
refreshing existing ones in a safe environment. Plus it allows this without causing any
danger to the patients.
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Human simulation software enables doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to
interact with others in an interactive environment. They engage in training scenarios in
which they have to interact with a patient but within a 3D environment only. This is an
immersive experience which measures the participants emotions via a series of sensors.
Virtual reality diagnostics.
Virtual reality is often used as a diagnostic tool in that it enables doctors to arrive at a
diagnosis in conjunction with other methods such as MRI scans. This removes the need
for invasive procedures or surgery. Virtual robotic surgery A popular use of this
technology is in robotic surgery. This is where surgery is performed by means of a
robotic device controlled by a human surgeon, which reduces time and risk of
Virtual reality has been also been used for training purposes and, in the field of remote
telesurgery in which surgery is performed by the surgeon at a separate location to the
patient. The main feature of this system is force feedback as the surgeon needs to be able
to gauge the amount of pressure to use when performing a delicate procedure. But there is
an issue of time delay or latency which is a serious concern as any delay even a fraction
of a second can feel abnormal to the surgeon and interrupt the procedure. So there
needs to be precise force feedback in place to prevent this. Robotic surgery and other
issues relating to virtual reality and medicine can be found in the virtual reality and
healthcare section.
Medical fields in which virtual reality is/can be used
1. Dentistry
2. Medicine
3. Nursing
4. Surgery simulation
5. Therapies
6. Phobia treatment
7. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
8. Autism
9. Disabled
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3. Entertainment
The entertainment industry is one of the most enthusiastic advocates of virtual reality,
most noticeably in games and virtual worlds. But other equally popular areas include:
1. Virtual Museums, e.g. interactive exhibitions
2. Galleries
3. Theatre, e.g. interactive performances
4. Virtual theme parks
5. Discovery centres
Audience engagement environments enable members of the public to engage with the
exhibits in ways which were previously forbidden or unknown. They wear virtual reality
glasses with stereoscopic lenses which allow them to see 3D objects and at different
angles. And in some cases they can interact with the exhibits by means of an input device
such as a data glove.
An example of this is a historical building which the member of the public can view at
different angles. Plus they are able to walk through this building, visiting different rooms
to find out more about how people lived at that particular time in history.
They are able to do this by means of a tracking system (built into the glasses) which
tracks their movements and feeds this information back to a computer. The computer
responds by changing the images in front of the person to match their change in
perception and maintain a sense of realism.
There are a range of virtual reality systems available for audience entertainment which
includes CAVE systems, augmented reality systems, simulators and 3D display
Virtual reality gaming is a very popular form of entertainment which is discussed in more
detail in a separate section. Visit the virtual reality games section which contains a set of
individual articles discussing VR games for Xbox, PC and PS3 as well as virtual worlds.
4. Reality and Heritage
This refers to the use of virtual reality in museum and historical settings, e.g. visitor
centres. These settings employ interaction as a means of communicating information to
the general public in new and exciting ways.
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There has been a move away from the traditional type of experience associated with
museums, galleries and visitor centres. The old model was that of passive engagement in
which people viewed the exhibit/s but did not get involved to an experience in which
interaction is the main feature.
Interactive displays form a large part of many exhibitions and particularly appeal to
children. Children are often difficult to attract to a museum or gallery as they tend to see
this as a boring experience. But the use of interactive technologies such as virtual reality
has changed that perception and opened up these spaces to a new audience.
1. Virtual reality heritage sites
2. Examples of virtual heritage sites include:
3. Monuments
4. Stonehenge
5. Sculptures
6. Caves
7. Historical buildings
8. Archaeological digs
9. Old towns and villages
Virtual reality has been used to construct virtual walkthroughs of these sites which
enhances the visitors experience.
5. Business
Virtual reality is being used in a number of ways by the business community which
1. Virtual tours of a business environment
2. Training of new employees
3. A 360 view of a product
Many businesses have embraced virtual reality as a cost effective way of developing a
product or service. For example it enables them to test a prototype without having to
develop several versions of this which can be time consuming and expensive.
Plus it is a good way of detecting design problems at an early stage which can then be
dealt with sooner rather than later.
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For some businesses, fully immersive virtual reality a la CAVE system is the way
forward. They like the fact that they can use this to test drive a product in the early stages
of development but without any additional costs (or risks) to themselves.
This is particularly useful for companies who produce dangerous or potentially harmful
products which need to be evaluated before use. They can test their product within a
virtual environment but at no risk to themselves or their employees. And virtual reality
technology has advanced to the stage where it has a high degree of realism and
Some companies use virtual reality to help with data analysis and forecasting trends in
order to gain an edge over their competitors. One example of this is a system developed
by researchers at the University of Warwick which is designed to help businesses gain a
greater understanding of their data.
6. Engineering
Virtual reality engineering includes the use of 3D modelling tools and visualisation
techniques as part of the design process. This technology enables engineers to view their
project in 3D and gain a greater understanding of how it works. Plus they can spot any
flaws or potential risks before implementation. This also allows the design team to
observe their project within a safe environment and make changes as and where
necessary. Saving both time and money. What is important is the ability of virtual reality
to depict fine grained details of an engineering product to maintain the illusion. This
means high end graphics, video with a fast refresh rate and realistic sound and movement.
In some cases, virtual reality can be used from the start of the design lifecycle, e.g. the
initial concept through to the build and implementation stages. This is reviewed at stages
to check for faults, structural weaknesses and other design issues.
Virtual reality and rail construction
7. Sports
Virtual reality is used as a training aid in many sports such as golf, athletics, skiing,
cycling etc. It is used as an aid to measuring athletic performance as well as analysing
technique and is designed to help with both of these. It also used in clothing/equipment
design and as part of the drive to improve the audiences experience.
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The athlete uses this technology to fine tune certain aspects of their performance, for
example, a golfer looking to improve their swing or a track cyclist wanting to go faster in
the individual pursuit. Three dimensional systems can pinpoint aspects of an athletes
performance which require changing, for example, their biomechanics or technique.
Another popular use is sports manufacture: virtual reality is used in the design of sporting
clothes and equipment, e.g. running shoe design. Innovation is a key factor in this
industry as the bar is raised higher and higher in terms of sporting achievement.
Sportspeople are constantly looking at ways of gaining them that edge which can mean
being faster, stronger, better endurance etc. They are constantly pushing boundaries as
regards what their bodies can do which drives the sports clothing and equipment industry.
This industry has to keep pace with this constant drive for sporting perfection and uses
the very latest technology to do so.
Virtual reality has also been used to improve the audiences experience of a sporting
event. Some systems allow the audience to walkthrough a stadium or other sporting
location, which helps them when purchasing a ticket to an event.
And then there are virtual reality games with a sports theme which allow the player to
become part of the competition. One example is an interactive football game which
projects this match onto a real world surface.
8. Media
Virtual reality has featured in several film and television programmes. It is often used to
illustrate the concept of being trapped within the machine (or in this case, cyberspace), or
as a form of advanced technology.
Examples of VR inspired films include:
1. The Lawnmower Man2.
2. The Matrix
3. Tron (1982 version)
4. The Thirteenth Floor
5. eXistenZ
6. Vanilla Sky
There are television programmes such as selected episodes of Doctor Who, Red Dwarf
and Star Trek: The Next Generation which utilise virtual reality technology. One example
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is the holodeck as seen in Star Trek which enables the person to experience any situation
they so wish.
This technology has formed part of experimental sound displays and sound installations.
Another use is virtual reality musical instruments which the person can interact with
these instruments as a new type of performance or to create new compositions.
Virtual reality has been a staple theme of many fictional stories such as William Gibsons
Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive as well as Orson Scott Cards Enders Game.
There are artists who use virtual reality to explore certain ideas or concepts. They create a
three dimensional environment as a form of communication with the audience. One
example is the work of Kenneth Rinaldo who uses robotics and augmented reality to
explore ideas related to the human-technology boundary.
9. Telecommunications
Telecommunications is another field which has utilised virtual reality technology, in
particular mobile communications which enables easy access to a variety of VR based
projects. The main challenge is that of dealing with a medium which mainly relies upon
tone of voice, intonation, gesture and body language as compared to spoken words. In
fact, spoken words only account for a very small percentage of the overall
But traditional forms of communication such as the telephone are being superseded by
video conferencing, Skype and live chat. These communication mediums can be used on
the internet and other similar systems and are seen as cheaper and more flexible.
Telecommunications can be used to help virtual reality systems such as surgery
simulation or telemedicine. An example of this is remote surgery in which images from
that surgery can be transmitted to various locations around the world. It also enables
surgery to be performed in remote locations using robotic technology and virtual reality.
10. Scientific Visualisation
Virtual reality is being increasingly used in the field of scientific visualisation. This field
is based upon using computer graphics to express complex ideas and scientific concepts,
for example molecular models or statistical results.
Scientific visualisation is used as a means of communicating abstract concepts to an
audience which also aids with understanding. The audience can interact with these
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images, for example, viewing a molecular structure at different angles or as a means of
problem solving.
Virtual reality enables scientists to demonstrate a method or convey complex ideas in a
visual format. This includes semi-immersive and full immersive environments in which
they visualise research theories or discuss large data sets.
This technology raises possibilities for collaboration between different disciplines or new
forms of research and development. Virtual reality is considered alongside other forms of
visualisation technology such as computer simulation, animation and information
visualisation. All of these are designed to show a visual model of a live system, e.g.
human body, complex data set or a large collection of numerical information.
Frank Steinicke et al [1] in December 2005 presented Virtual Reality VRS (VR
S), a generic VR
software system, an extension of the high-level rendering system VRS. Use of VR
S allowed
rendering to be performed with several low-level rendering APIs such as OpenGL, Render- Man
or ray-tracing systems, and the interface can be implemented by arbitrary user interface toolkits
to support both desktop- and VR-based interaction. He put forward the main objective of VR
which is to provide VR software developers with a suite of APIs that abstract, and hence
simplify all interface aspects of applications including the user interface and typical VR system
tasks. VR
S applications are essentially independent of the VR system, and hence applications
run on different system architectures in both VR systems and desktop environments. The
modular and flexible design of VR2S permits individual as well as combined usage of VR
Oluleke Bamodu et al [2] in 2013 put forward a definition of virtual reality, its various features,
components and its application. He refers to virtual reality as an oxymoron, as it is referred as
reality that does not exist. Virtual reality environment is classified into 3 levels depending on
the level of immersion and type of components utilized in the system, viz. immersive, semi-
immersive and non-immersive. He has identified 3 main components of virtual system, input
devices, VR engine and output devices. The input devices are used for recording actions of user,
to provide appropriate reactions. VR engine required to make the virtual environment react to
users actions. Output devices to get feedback from the VR engine and pass it on to the users
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through the corresponding output devices to stimulate the senses. He also discussed about VR
development tools and various considerations to select the appropriate tool. Lastly he lists
various fields viz. Architecture, Arts, Business, Design and Planning, Education and Training,
Entertainment, Manufacturing, Medical and Scientific Visualization, which have application of
VR systems.
Tom Fellmann et al [3] discusses various virtual reality (VR) tools, main components for a
generic VR Engine. In this paper, they discuss the system architecture of a VR Engine (VaiR),
and demonstrate the basic elements of this generic VR programming interface. The VaiR Engine
integrates VR hardware and software within a graphics Application Programming Interface
(API) (e.g. OpenSceneGraph). VaiR Engine providing the ability to use stereoscopic goggles,
trackers, head mounted displays, etc with a number of 3D Modeling and Animation Packages
(e.g. 3ds Max and Softimage) and scripting languages (e.g., XML). VaiR combines the important
characteristics of many other VR tools and brings them together to generate a more powerful
Tomasz Mazuryk et al [4] talks about Virtual Reality (VR), sometimes called Virtual
Environments (VE) Extensive media coverage causes this interest to grow rapidly. In this paper a
historical overview of virtual reality is presented, basic terminology and classes of VR systems
are listed, followed by applications of this technology in science, work, and entertainment areas.
An insightful study of typical VR systems is done. All components of VR application and
interrelations between them are thoroughly examined. Additionally human factors and their
implication on the design issues of VE are discussed. Finally, the future of VR is considered in
two aspects: technological and social. New research directions, technological frontiers and
potential applications are pointed out. The possible positive and negative influence of VR on life
of average people is speculated.

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[1] Frank Steinicke, Timo Ropinski and Klaus Hinrichs,A Generic Virtual Reality
Software Systems Architecture and Application, ICAT, December 2005
[2] Oluleke Bamodu and Xuming Y, Virtual Reality and Virtual Reality System
Components, 2nd International Conference On Systems Engineering and Modeling,
[3] Tom Fellmann and Manolya Kavakli,VaiR: System Architecture of a Generic
Virtual Reality Engine
[4] Tomasz Mazuryk and Michael Gervautz, Virtual Reality History, Applications,
Technology and Future