Virtual Reality Technology and Society


A Report
on
VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY

Prepared for
Social Issues in Technology
DeVry, Phoenix

by
Joe Rykowski
Kip Yeackley
July 24, 1994 TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .iii
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Definitions and Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Inspiration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND VIRTUAL REALITY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Video Display Devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Audio Output Devices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Tactile Response Devices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Interactive Input Devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Computers and Software. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
THE HISTORY OF VIRTUAL REALITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Virtual Reality in the Past . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Virtual Reality in the Present. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Virtual Reality in the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
THE SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF VIRTUAL REALITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
New Rules of Behavior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Adverse Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

ABSTRACT

This paper addresses entertainment's use of technology, specifically
the medium of virtual reality. The focus is to define virtual reality,
examine it's components, survey the field, and consider it's impact upon
society. Among the definitions included are those from the artist Myron
Krueger, the scholar Howard Rheingold, and the novelist William Gibson.

The technological components used in virtual reality systems include
the following: video display, audio input, tactile response, interactive
input, and the computer hardware and software. Although a complete
compilation of all the devices involved in this arena are beyond the scope
of the paper, a discussion of the general areas of equipment, along with
several examples of items and companies involved in the field will be
given.

Our survey of the virtual reality field will encompass views of past,
present and future forms of this medium and based upon the