One of the final aspects of the future of computing that we will consider is simulation. A simulation, at its simplest level, is copying some aspect of real life and portraying that experience on a computer. You might also hear the term "virtual reality" to describe a simulation. Virtual reality is the use of computers to create a simulated environment that has an illusion of reality and immerses you in the experience. Computer simulations and virtual realities are used in a number of different ways. In the gaming world, you can find simulations of sporting activities such as golf and billiards. Advanced motion controls, like that found with the Nintendo Wii, add to the simulated experience by letting you swing your arm in a game of tennis while you watch the simulated character on the screen imitate your movement.
But simulations are not just for fun and games. Simulation can solve real–world problems, analyze real–world systems, and ask what–if questions about life (Banks, 1998). There are many serious applications, including pilots using simulation for flight training with programs such as Microsoft Flight Simulator. If you want to learn how to drive a bus, the first step in your training might not be sitting behind the steering wheel but instead sitting in front of a computer monitor. For example, a program released in 2010 simulates various aspects of operating a city bus. You become "Carlos," a professional bus driver, and are taught the intricacies of the job. The simulation includes driving around town, operating animated wipers under rain conditions, using the wheelchair lift, dealing with computer–generated AI traffic, assisting virtual passengers, and driving through a virtual Times Square. The program attempts to "simulate real driving behavior" to train the next generation of drivers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FP1yddiEzpQ).