Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that permits the user to maintain contact with a computer-simulated ambiance whether it is an actual or perceived one. Most of the contemporary virtual reality environments are fundamentally visual encounters, shown either on a computer screen or using particular or stereoscopic displays; however, some simulations encompass more sensory input like sound using speakers or headphones. Some improved versions include tactile feedback, recognized as force feedback. It is true in medical and gaming matters. Subscribers can interact with virtual mediums either using standard input tools or by multimodal devices.
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The simulated environment may be just as it is the actual world or it may be at variance with reality. Pragmatically speaking, it is impossible to make a high fidelity virtual reality experience, overwhelmingly due to technical restrictions. It is being hoped that these shortcomings would be eventually fixed as processors; imaging and data communication sciences become more refined and less costly. There are unlimited uses of virtual technology.
The advantages of virtual reality are of diverse types and wide-ranging and engulf everything from games to assist in indoctrinating doctors the expertise of surgery or making pilots aware of the skill of flying aircraft safely. It can be exploited for traffic management, medicine, entertainment, workplace, and industrial layouts. However, along with the credit side, the debit side must also be mentioned which includes its use for the destructive objectives. It can easily be employed in the world of crime and the actual state of war.
The notion of virtual reality first came to the fore in the 30s, when scientists generated the first flight simulator for the preparation of pilots. They aspired to position the pilot in the actual; condition before he or she was capable of flying. Virtual reality has a bundle of positive implications. It provides the crippled people with the ability to do the works which otherwise could not be undertaken by them.
In the virtual world, people in wheelchairs have the maneuverability of freedom that is not found in the real world. “VR models of buildings can be used for several purposes; document management, interior design option analyses by end users, operations planning, evacuation simulations etc. Construction practitioners expect rather widely that vr model can be the user interface to complex data and models in near future. For example by pointing a particular object in the building model the user can obtain all documentation relevant to that object. This feature means that in the nearby future the instructions for service and use can take full advantage of virtual reality technology”. (Timothy Leary, Linda Leary, 2007).
Though currently, the technology is not accessible to every person due to the price factor, however, as has been the fate of every technology, it will evolve with time and its price will come within the range of all people. It is expected to enter the homes of everybody as limelight helmets and supercomputers are developed. Virtual reality has so many implications in the realm of all shapes of architecture and industrial layouts.
Computer-aided design has been a significant device since the middle of the 70s, as it permits the user to have three-dimensional images on the screen of the computer. However, till the time of having the VR helmet and glove to initiative the images onto, it would not be possible to be absorbed in the virtual world. Virtual reality has given a phenomenal uplift in the aviation business as it prevents the requirement to have many diverse prototypes.
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Each time, an engineer thinks of fresh aircraft or helicopter a model has to be coined to guarantee that it works whether it will fly efficiently and it is beneficial for the personnel and the passengers. If the model is wrong, the designer has to return to the drawing, alter it and then have another one. This is a very costly and time taking process. By employing, virtual technology, designers can draw, construct and evaluate their aircraft in a virtual ambiance without having real aircraft. It also facilitates the designers to employ different ideas. All the details can be viewed in detail and they can pick up the most feasible one. NASA has exploited virtual reality to have a helicopter and Boeing has employed it to design their innovative aircraft.
By the use of virtual reality, doctors have access to the inside of the human body.
Doctors have even been able to make their way into the thorax and to ensure that radiation beams required to deal with the cancer were in the actual position. “Application of these technologies are being developed for health care in the following area: surgical procedures (remote surgery or telepresence, augmented or enhanced surgery; medical therapy; preventive medicine and patient education; medical education and training; visualization of the massive medical database; skill enhancement and rehabilitation; and architectural design for health care facilities” to date, such applications have improved the quality of health care and in future, they will result in substantial costs savings. Tools that respond to the needs of present virtual environment systems are being refined or developed.
However, additional large scale research is necessary for the following areas; user studies use of robots for telepresence procedures, enhanced system reality, and improved system functionality” (Giuseppe Riva, 1997).
Doctors will in the immediate future be capable of investigating and studying tumors very well and in three dimensions rather than from scans and X-rays. In America, an assassin who was killed on an electronic chair gave his body to science. His corpse was torn into small pieces and was exploited for the objective of using the virtual body for research. It is also hoped that in near future, students will be capable to instruct virtual bodies rather than real patients that would assist in overcoming so many medical problems.
On the minute level, it is being exploited in drug research. Scientists have remained successful in the making of molecules, envision and ‘feel’ how they interact with each other. Before the use of this technology, it was extremely slow and intricate.
Therefore there is a strong probability that virtual reality will influence the pace with which innovative drugs and cures are being coined and facilitate treatment in the future as far as their actualization in real life is concerned. “On a microscopic level, virtual reality is being used in drug research. Scientists at the University of North Carolina are able to create the molecules and then visualize and ‘feel’ how they react with each other. Before the use of virtual reality, this process was very slow and complicated. Therefore, it is likely that virtual reality will have a strong impact on the speed with which new drugs and remedies are developed and become available in the future” (Thinkquest, 2004).
Virtual reality is significant in that it has the potential to envision the unseen or the elusive which in other words is called unpredictable. This would lead to virtual reality executing the repairs in space with the assistance of a robot. In a technique, virtual puppetry a robot is managed by an expert operator and imitates all the movements of the operator.
The options for virtual technology are huge. Future inhabitants of the new towns will be capable of walking in the virtual streets, shops, and other places before even they have been built. There are hopes that big capital cities of the western world will be redesigned while exploiting this technology. Although virtual technology is still at the embryonic stage, its roots can be traced back to the invention of supercomputers.
Though the entertainment industry is renowned for the use of virtual technology, several other industries also exploit the same technology on a much bigger scale. Modern-day meteorologists use this technology to prophesize the weather conditions and help people hailing from different industries for the betterment of their outputs. Now the weather is being predicted in a way that was never available before, more and more precisions have resulted after the use of this legendary technology. The technology helps in foretelling the early warning for severe weather conditions.
Diverse intricate situations have been simulated. One of the biggest single simulations in use in the present times is that of the universe. Scientists are making their utmost endeavors to gauge the formulation of the universe. Chemical and molecular prototyping is being done with the assistance of virtual technology. More efficient car engines can be made with the help of this miraculous technology. The processes by which proteins interact with each other are being unearthed by biologists only after the employment of this technology.
The realm which is expected to benefit most from this technology in education. With the accession of computers, simple lessons can easily be delivered by the computers. More established topics were impossible owing to the incapacity of facilitating face-to-face experience. Currently, driving simulators are being used for the preparation of the drivers for driving automobiles. Many difficult academic subjects can be taught now and it is possible because of virtual technology.
The crippled people can co-exist with their environment. The motorized wheelchairs are being used in a better way by the paralyzed children after being versed with this usage of this technology. The children make progress as they accumulate skills with the aid of the virtual worlds. The kid faces great resistance in crossing the street exploiting the pedestrian signals and thus saving him or herself in the traffic. Completion of each world makes the child aware of the expertise and arms them with the contentment and confidence which they need the most.
The medical industry has substantially benefited from virtual technology. Doctors are employing it to the appropriate cure of some of the most intricate diseases. “They can study images of a cancer patient’s body structure to plan an effective radiation therapy technique. Doctors also commonly use surgical modeling to learn how an organ responds to a given surgical instrument. This allows doctors to master surgical procedures without having to endanger anyone by learning on-the-job.
Some doctors even use virtual reality to cure patients of certain phobias. For example, people with acrophobia (the fear of heights) are often treated with virtual reality. The patient is subjected to a virtual world that exercises their fear. In the acrophobia example, they could be looking over the side of a cliff in their simulation. The patient is usually able to overcome their fear due to the fact that they know the situation is only computer simulated and can not actually harm them” (Keith Mitchell, 1996).
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Another domain in which it is getting appreciation is the Internet. Virtual reality can be made available to reinforce its interface to convert it into an actual ‘cyberspace’. The web revolution will be able to sustain its radicalism by multiplying the ability to add three-dimensional interactive graphics. This could be made practical only after the development of VRML. It is combined with java that permits the whole interactive world to be made from a single web page. It helps people to be interacting with others even from far-off places in the virtual world from the central website.
Though the fundamental parts of the technology have been present for two decades back, they were not combined and used with great intensity until recently. Currently, the use of this technology is in the expansionist mode. From scientific research to video games and the internet, everyone appears to have recourse to it. It is one of few genres of technologies that are limited by imagination. The variety of applications in different domains has immense promises and the future of virtual technology seems to be very bright.
Along with the aspirations, virtual technology has been attacked for being an inept method for spearheading nongeographical knowledge. Currently, the conception of ubiquitous computing is very renowned in user interface design and this may be considered as a reaction against virtual reality and its encumbrances. In actual practice, these two forms of interfaces have different objectives and are mutually reinforcing. The end of ubiquitous computing is to induct the computer in the world of the computer rather than impose on the user for entering the world of computer inside. The contemporary inclination in virtual reality is to combine the two user interfaces to generate an immersive and combined experience.
Giuseppe Riva (1997), Virtual Reality in Neuro-Psycho-Physiology. IOS Press. Page, 3.
Timothy Leary, Linda Leary (2007), Computing Essentials. Career Education.
Mitchell (1996), “Virtual Reality”. UNIX-guru. Web.
Thinkquest (2004), “virtual relaity”. Web.