The term virtual reality is ancient enough to conjure up images of ponderous headpieces and thick coiled cables littering up electronic strewn laboratory. But the scientific definition is actually quite different and encompasses a wide range of computer generated environments.
Virtual reality is the term used to describe any 3-dimensional environment that can be explore and interacted with by the user. The goal is to completely immerse the user in their 3D environment and allow them to interact or manipulate as much of their environment as possible. This has been accomplished with a vary degrees of success since the late 80s.
Features of the Typical VR System
VR systems exist in a great many systems that were designed to deliver a specific user experience, nevertheless, all of these systems share some important characteristics. Primarily, the all depict an environment or images in 3D form. These images will take on a life-sized appearance to the person in the VR world.
Furthermore, these images must change as the person navigates their environment and react with small differences in the user’s field of vision. The ultimate goal is to present an environment that changes with the eye movements and head motion of the user. This adds realism and ensures the experience is more enjoyable to the user.
A top-quality VR world will also provide the most realistic responses in real-time to the person interacting in the VR environment. Problems begin to arise when the systems response to actions are delayed as this removes all reality from the virtual reality system.
A user aware they are in a VR system will adjust their natural movements to those applied to using a machine. This mechanical interaction is a major obstacle in the seamless lifelike use of the VR system.
Virtual reality is the next step in technological evolution and the promise of creating alternate realities that stimulate the mind and sense in a natural way. The implications are astounding and virtual reality could have major applications in the fields of sports, military operations and education. Then the implications for the world of entertainment surpass them all. Within the next half a century it may be possible to take a month’s vacation in Aruba without ever leaving your living room.
No matter what road the evolution of virtual reality takes we can expect some impressive innovations from the virtual reality frontier. This technology will begin to change our interactions with each other and the digital intelligence being born today.