An Insight Into Virtual Reality


Virtual Reality is a creation of a highly interactive computer based
multimedia environment in which the user becomes a participant with the
computer in a "virtually real" world1

We are living in an era characterized by 3D virtual systems created by
computer graphics. In the concept called Virtual Reality (VR), the virtual
reality engineer is combining computer, video, image-processing, and sensor
technologies so that a human can enter into and react with spaces generated
by computer graphics.

In 1969-70, a MIT scientist went to the University of Utah, where he
began to work with vector generated graphics. He built a see-through
helmet that used television screens and half-silvered mirrors, so that the
environment was visible through the TV displays. It was not yet designed
to provide a surrounding environment. It was not until the mid \'80\'s that
virtual reality systems were becoming more defined. The AMES contract
started in 1985, came up with the first glove in February 1986. The glove
is made of thin Lycra and is fitted with 15 sensors that monitor finger
flexion, extension, hand position and orientation. Connected to a computer
through fiber optic cables. Sensor inputs enable the computer to generate
an on screen image of the hand that follows the operator\'s hand movements.
The glove also has miniature vibrators in the finger tips to provide
feedback to the operator from grasped virtual objects. Therefore, driven
by the proper software, the system allows the rator to interact by grabbing
and moving a virtual object within a simulated room, while experiencing the
"feel" of the object.

The virtual reality line includes the Datasuit and the Eyephone. The
Datasuit is an instrumented full-body garment that enables full-body
interaction with a computer constructed virtual world. In one use, this
product is worn by film actors to give realistic movement to animated
characters in computer generated special effects. The Eyephone is a head
mounted stereo display that shows a computer made virtual world in full
color and 3D.

The Eyephone technology is based on an experimental Virtual Interface
Environment Workstation (VIEW) design. VIEW is a head-mounted stereoscopic
display system with two 3.9 inch television screens, one for each eye. The
display can be a computer generated scene or a real environment sent by
remote video cameras. Sound effects delivered to the headset increase the
realism.

It was intended to use the glove and software for such ideas as a
surgical simulation, or "3D virtual surgery" for medical students. In the
summer of 1991, US trainee surgeons were able to practice leg operations
without having to cut anything solid. NASA Scientists have developed a
three-dimensional computer simulation of a human leg which surgeons can
operate on by entering the computer world of virtual reality. Surgeons use
the glove and Eyephone technology to create the illusion that they are
operating on a leg.

Other virtual reality systems such as the Autodesk and the CAVE have
also come up with techniques to penetrate a virtual world. The Autodesk
uses a simple monitor and is the most basic visual example for virtual
reality. An example where this could be used is while exercising. For
example, Autodesk may be connected to an exercise bike, you can then look
around a graphic world as you pedal through it. If you pedal fast enough,
your bike takes off and flies.

The CAVE is a new virtual reality interface that engulfs the individual
into a room whose walls, ceiling, and floor surround the viewer with
virtual space. The illusion is so powerful you won\'t be able to tell
what\'s real and what\'s not. Computer engineers seem fascinated by virtual
reality because you can not only program a world, but in a sense, inhabit
it.

Mythic space surrounds the cyborg, embracing him/her with images that
seem real but are not.2 The sole purpose of cyberspace virtual reality
technology is to trick the human senses, to help people believe and uphold
an illusion.

Virtual reality engineers are space makers, to a certain degree they
create space for people to play around in.3 A space maker sets up a world
for an audience to act directly within, and not just so the audience can
imagine they are experiencing a reality, but so they can experience it
directly. "The film maker says, \'Look, I\'ll show you.\' The space maker
says, \'Here, I\'ll help you discover.\' However, what will the space maker
help us discover?"4

"Are virtual reality systems going to serve as supplements to our
lives, or will individuals so miserable in their daily existence find an
obsessive refuge in a preferred cyberspace? What