Virtual Reality is considered one of the most exciting technologies today, constantly evolving and improving. According to Eric Drexler, a world known pioneer in this field, VR is “A combination of computer andinterface devices (goggles, gloves, etc.) that present a user with the illusion of being in a three dimensional world of computer generated objects.” The term ^virtual reality,^ is not finite in its meaning, but generally includes desktop VR, immersion VR, where the goggles and gloves are used, and projection VR.The virtual reality technology is not yet perfect and still too expensive for the common man.
The use of high-end VR is mainly restricted to larger companies, and to special areas such as medical surgery and pilot training. Home users are limited to desktop virtual reality programs, which lets them navigate in three-dimensional worlds,but seldom gives the feeling of actually being there. The entertainment industry has yet to embrace the technology in full scale, but in his book ^Virtual Reality^ Howard Rheingold states ^Used today in architecture, engineering and design, tomorrow in mass-market entertainment, surrogate travel, virtual surgery and cybersex, by the next century ^VR^ will have transformed our lives.^Will VR cause people to lose their grip on the real world, or is itjust a continuation of previous developments that took people toPeople seem to always have escaped to ^imaginary worlds^, to get a wayfrom the stress of real life and to relax.
We have all experiencedGreek theatre, read novels and been to the cinema, and lived ourselvesinto fiction stories that we identify with. Our imagination creates afiction world, which leads us away from real life for a moment of time.In our own utopia, we forget contemporary problems of reality.Even though the virtual reality technology creates a utopia for us toexplore, it is in a lot of ways different from other developments weknow so well today.
June Deery, from the Rensselaer PolytechnicInstitute in Troy says ^whereas in fiction we imagine and empathize, incyberspace we are supposed to ^actually^ step into the other world.^This means that the other world is not created in our minds, but isalready there. We have to move in that world and take part in it, notonly with our mind, but by using our senses, such as seeing, hearingand touching. These are our navigation tools. This world is imaginaryin the way that it is not of something real, but a result of theprogrammer of that worlds imagination.
It is ^virtual.^In previous developments, such as theatre, novels and cinema wepassively follow a linear storyline, with a start and an end. Theauthor of it predetermines all the happenings in a particular story. Wehave no participation in the play, but identify with it and ourimagination creates a generic feeling that we are a part of the story.In virtual reality however, we do participate actively in a non-linearstory, we are a part of the plot. How the story evolves, depends onwhat we do, and when we do it. What we get to see of the story, dependson where in the virtual world we are.
We are able to see, hear andtouch the elements in the story and interact with them. We have becomeone of the actors, with the freedom to rewrite the play along the way!Human beings are social creatures that like to communicate. ^Becausecomputers make networks, VR seems a natural candidate for a newcommunications medium^ (Heim, Michael 1993). Just as the Internet hasbecome our time^s biggest communication network, virtual reality couldhave a great impact on how we share information. Imagine a meeting withpeople from all parts of the world in a virtual room, or playingAs mentioned above, we identify with stories, and also the characterswithin them.
We often think ^if I were him,^ or ^if I looked likethat,^ then ^I would.^ We imagine and wish for a moment that we weresomething else or lived another life. In time, as virtual realityimproves, maybe we will get the chance to do just that by strapping ona set of goggles and a sensory suit. Using this technology we could beable to choose a desired identity and act it out as our imaginationwants us to.
But what if that virtual world is better than the realJohn Suler, with a PhD in psychology, at Department of Psychology atRyder University states in the website ^ Computer and CyberspaceAddiction^ that ^People become “addicted” to the Internet, or act outpathologically in cyberspace, when they have dissociated it from theirf2f life. Their cyberspace activity becomes a world unto itself. Theydon’t talk about it with the people in their f2f life.
It becomes awalled-off substitute or escape from their life.^It seems like the virtual reality technology is inevitable. ^Peopleinitially use technology to do what they do now-but faster. Then theygradually begin to use technology to do new things. The new thingschange life-styles and work ^styles. The new life-styles andwork-styles change society^.
and eventually technology.^(Fubini^s law)Before we know it, virtual reality might be as usual in contemporarylife, as television has been for decades. We will be presented with anew way to escape from reality, which seems to be ten times as powerfulas previous developments. We will open doors to fascinating mazes, thatsome of us may never come out of. Worlds that we don^t even want tocome out of because it appears better than the chaos we daily aresurrounded with, the real world. It might even be another addiction.
Oras Jerry Garcia put it ^they made LSD illegal. I wonder what they^reBibliography:Reference:Websites:^Virtual Reality- The Past, Present and the Future^http://18.104.22.168/students/nquirk/NOEL_VR2.HTM^Potential Future Applications of Virtual Reality in Architecture and Related Issues^http://www.fbe.unsw.edu.au/research/student/VRArch/futintro.htmZupko, Sarah (1999) ^Cultural Studies Center^ Articles/Papershttp://www.popcultures.com/articles/cyberspa.htmChislenko, Alexander (1997) ^Intelligent Information Filters and Enhanced Reality^http://www.lucifer.com/sasha/EnhancedReality.html^Jones Telecommunications ; Multimedia Encyclopedia^ Virtual Realityhttp://www.digitalcentury.com/encyclo/update/vr.htmlFarscht, Russel ^Virtual Reality^http://futures.wharton.upenn.edu/russel07/vr.htmlArticles (online):June Deery (1995) ^Fiction-Medicated Communication: Virtual and Real Realities^http://www.cas.ilstu.edu/english/mediations/deery.htmlJohn Suler (1999) ^Computer and Cyberspace Addiction^http://www.rider.edu/users/suler/psycyber/basicfeat.htmlHeim, M (1993) ^The Essence of VR^http://rochester.edu/College/FS/Publications/HeimEssence.html^Potential Future Applications of Virtual Reality in Architecture and Related Issues^ Fubini^s Law http://www.fbe.unsw.edu.au/research/student/VRArch/futintro.htmHarrington, Patrick ^Virtually There^http://www.diverseworld.com/ccult/ccult12.htmlBooks:Rheingold, H (1991) ^Virtual Reality ^Simpson ; Schuster New YorkRheingold, H ^The Virtual Community^ Available online: http://well.com/user/hlr/vcbook/index.htm