The Promise of Virtual Reality
Virtual reality may be one of the most important technologies in our future, producing a great leap forward in many fields. While most people now focus on VR's use in entertainment areas, its real impacts will be in the arts, business, communication, design, education, engineering, medicine, and many other fields.
Due to the importance of this emerging technology, I would like to dispel some misinformation about it and suggest some important applications it will have in the future. But first, let's get clear about what virtuality is.
Virtual reality can be defined as a three-dimensional, computer-generated simulation in which one can navigate around, interact with, and be immersed in another environment. In this sense, "virtual" is derived from the concept of "virtual memory" in a computer, which acts "as if" it is actual memory. Virtual reality provides a reality that mimics our everyday one.
Since human beings are primarily visual animals, we respond much better to spatial, three-dimensional images than we do to flat, two-dimensional text and sketches. With three-dimensional images like those produced in virtual reality, we are better able to see patterns, relationships, and trends. Virtual reality goes beyond mere static images to ones that we can navigate through and interact with in real time. We can look at things from any perspective. Virtual reality is also immersiveit draws you into the visualization.
Virtual reality is not just a set of devices, but a medium for expression and communication. Virtual reality is a means to create, experience, and share a computer-generated world as realistic or as fanciful as you would like. Head-mounted displays, data gloves, and other devices are only tools to help us experience this parallel world.
Other names for the concept of virtual reality include "artificial reality," "augmented reality," and "tele-presence." However, the term "virtual reality," or "VR,"...