Virtual Reality A Modern Technology Media Essay

2545 words (10 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Media Reference this

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Virtual reality is one of the modern technologies which was introduced a few decades back and has taken an important place in the field of technology in a very short time. it makes use of an artificial environment generated by the computer in which simulates the real environment. Besides gaining an immediate acceptance in the world of computer games, it is now being used in many fields of life including architecture, medicine, military and aviation. Scientists and researchers are expecting to explore a lot in this modern technology than what we know about it today. It is a great leap in the field of 3D and a lot of work is still under progress. The discussion below is an insight into the details of this technology, its uses, advantages, disadvantages and social impacts.

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The term virtual reality refers to refers to a modern technology providing an immersive, interactive experience using the three dimensional computer based graphic images. This technology creates an artificial environment with the help of computer hardware and software and is presented to the user in way which simulates the real world.

The equipment makes use of a pair of special gloves, ear phones and goggles, the three of them being controlled by the computer. In this way, three of the user’s five senses are receiving and input from the computer. The goggles also act by detecting the eye movements of the user, thereby monitoring his actions.

ORIGIN:

The idea of virtual reality was first presented in 1930s, when the first fight simulator was invented by the scientists for the purpose of training the pilots. This was in an attempt to prepare them for the actual flight environment before being able to fly a real fighter plane.

The invention got improvement in 1965, when Ivan Sutherland, an American, presented his theory of developing a portable virtual world using two tiny television sets, one meant for each eye. His invention worked, but to a very basic level. The images were rough and not clear. Another problem was the weight of the helmet used. It was quite heavy and needed to be supported from the ceiling.

But the idea has actually got its base and now needed to be improved. Scientist continued working on this idea until in 1985, Michael McGreevy, from NASA introduced a much improved version of virtual reality. It was light weighted, using motorcycle helmet with mini display screens. It was also provided with the special sensors which were used to detect movements with the help of sensitive computer technology.

Finally, during 1986, the invention got its final touch when a computer games programmer named Jaron Lanier introduced a new glove for virtual reality. In this way took the modern form in which we look it today. (Virtual Reality, 2004)

TYPES OF VIRTUAL REALITY:

There are three main types of virtual reality technology:

The first one uses a helmet, ear phones and a pair of special gloves or joy sticks controlled by a computer and assisted by special sound effects and graphic images.

The second one makes use of the video cameras. These cameras track the image of the participant in an artificially created virtual world. The participant can even move the objects in this world using virtual technology.

The third type makes use of the three dimensional images. The screen used is shaped in a curve. This makes the images closer to the real world. (Nigel W. John, Joanna Leng (2001).

CATEGORIES:

There are six categories in which virtual reality can be displayed:

Desktop displays,

Head-mounted displays,

Arm-mounted displays,

Single screen displays,

Surround screen displays and

Volumetric displays. (Nigel W. John, Joanna Leng (2001).

The head mounted displays are among the most widely used displays for virtual reality. In this device, a pair of display screens is placed right in front of the user’s eyes. These screens are attached to a helmet which the user wears.

The arm mounted displays resemble a pair of binoculars mounted on an articulated arm. The user visualizes the virtual world by means of lenses. His virtual environment is controlled by his movements at an arm’s length and range of motion.

Single screen displays use the Immersive Workbench products. These products mostly make use of a tabletop metaphor where the virtual objects give an impression of lying on the table top.

Other types of single screen displays make use of a window metaphor. In this kind of display the image seems to be appearing in a large window opened into a virtual space.

Another sort of display is known as CAVE, where the viewer sees the images in the form of multiple screens surrounding him as if he is present inside a large cube. The viewer can explore the virtual world by moving inside the cube. (Nigel W. John, Joanna Leng (2001).

USES:

Virtual reality is now being used in many professions including architecture, meteorology, military, medical and molecular studies.

1. Architecture. Virtual reality has been now used for long in the field of architecture. It has been used to establish the models of buildings before the construction is started. It has also proved to be helpful to determine how a building may have collapsed and to provide improvements in reconstructing a damaged building.

2. Weather Forecast. Virtual reality has also been used in the weather forecast profession by simulating the images with the data collected from the satellites and radars.

3. Military Training. Now virtual reality has officially been declared a part of the U.S military training. They make use of the environments created using virtual reality in whole rooms where soldiers are provided different experiences. These include the war fields as well as different exercises.

4. Cancer Chemotherapy. Another remarkable use of virtual reality in medical field is as a treatment for the cancer patients. Chemotherapy is a painful procedure for most of the patients, yet it is necessary as many malignant cancers can’t be treated but their progression can be stopped by the chemotherapy treatment.

It has been shown that if the chemotherapy is provided to these patients while they indulge themselves in some activity using virtual world, the pain felt is quite less that that experienced without it. Many chemotherapy centers are now making use of this technology.

It is especially true in case of children suffering with cancerous lesions requiring chemotherapy. They feel the procedure less painful if they are allowed to play games or perform any other activity using virtual world and receiving the chemotherapy at the same time.

Researchers explain this by the fact that three of the user’s senses become occupied while using the virtual world. These include, vision, hearing and touch. Thus the brain is actually distracted from the painful event being carried out.

Images also play quite an important role in this treatment. The patient is given the option to select any image of his/her choice, like walking on a beach, or visiting an art gallery or performing deep sea diving etc.

5. Molecular Biology. The molecular biology is also making use of virtual reality in order to study the molecular and cellular structures. It enables the scientists to visit small sections of a molecule and study its properties.

6. Medical Studies. Virtual reality is now being used in medical studies as well. By using virtual reality, the medical students and even doctors can learn complex medical procedures without risking anyone’s life.

In medical field virtual reality has been used in diagnosing various diseases using the images provided by other scans and then merging them using medical technology. (eHow, 2010)

7. Driving Lessons. In many countries now virtual reality has been used for driving tests as well. Apart from the actual on-road driving test, the candidates have to take a virtual reality based driving test as well which simulates the real environment.

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8. Disabled Children. Virtual reality has also proven itself to be a blessing for the disabled children. A child who a wheel chair for moving needs around can gain an insight of many of the places which he cannot otherwise visit. He can select the images or environment of choice and go to the virtual world for flight, diving, walking, fighting, driving or many other activities. In this regard it is a great blessing for the bed ridden or wheel chair bound children or individuals. (itgs, 2010)

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES:

The main advantages of virtual reality are as follows:

Virtual reality provides the diverse types of data available in instant forms.

It provides images from many different points of views.

It is able to demonstrate the non-visible data to the user like in case of geochemistry.

Allows a person to ‘visit’ the places normally inaccessible to individuals.

Provides an experience which can be repeated and revised.

It can cover the education and knowledge related to almost all fields of life. Even children as well as adults can get benefit from it.

It provides information in an interesting manner preventing the user from getting bored. (Weili Qiu, Tom Hubble, 2006).

Virtual Reality 9

A remarkable research being carried out now a day is an attempt to make virtual reality usable by the blind persons in order to enable them to face the real world challenges using modern technology.

Although the development of a virtual world can be considered as a great leap in the modern technology, yet a lot needs to be still done in this field. Given below is a chart displaying the possible harmful health effects of virtual reality:

(Bing Images, 2010).

The progress may be considered as slow mainly because of its complex technology. Other disadvantages include:

This technique uses the computer visualization and digital techniques, yet it does not present the true three dimensional natures of objects.

Although it is very close to reality, yet is unable to provide the feelings of touch, smell etc.

It is still not as beneficial as being really in a field.

Visiting a website using virtual reality is difficult and hindered by many factors like the network access, load on network and number of connections etc.

Many websites accessed using virtual reality are ephemeral and not permanent.

Yet needs much improvement regarding the teaching environment.

The user may get lost over different websites, thereby increasing the problem of time management. (Weili Qiu, Tom Hubble, 2006).

Some users complain of nausea and vomiting by an excessive and continuous use of virtual reality technology.

CAN VIRTUAL WORLD ‘REPLACE’ THE REAL EXPERIENCE?

Virtual world is although quite close to the real world yet it is still unable to ‘replace’ the feelings of a real world. As an example, the virtual reality technology is now being used for military training as well. But a soldier actually knows that he is not going to get any harm from any bullet coming from an unknown origin or a surprising attack. These feelings can only be experienced while being in an actual war field where all of a soldier’s instincts are fully active in order to prevent him from any unknown danger, as he knows that it is real and he can even loose his life if he gets distracted from this actual environment. (Science Clarified, 2010)

Similarly, it was found many years back that the pilots trained by using the flight simulators make mistakes while flying the actual plane. This occurs because of the actual differences found between the virtual and the real world. As for example, a flight simulator is unable to present the affects of simulation that a pilot feels during an actual flight. Thus, when he gets into a real flight, he faces confusion while experiencing the new sensation. Yet, this is a temporary problem and is resolved by allowing the pilots trained by flight simulators to fly a plane, only after twenty four hours have passed.

These problems are although temporary, but they have raised questions about whether a long term use of virtual reality able to bring about permanent changes, especially in children, whose brains are still under developing stage and can easily be modified as compared to the grown ups. Some psychologists believe that a long term and frequent use of virtual reality is going to change the way, people are used to perceive the real world.

According to some psychiatrists, a prolonged use of virtual world can make people avoid real life problems instead of trying to solve them.

WORLDWIDE ACCEPTANCE:

Although virtual reality technology can be still described to be in its initial stages, yet there are now about 61,000 commercial companies all over the world which are using the virtual reality technology to produce different products.

Even at this basic stage, now virtual reality has become a part of the educational training at about 3,600 educational institutes all over the world. (authorSTREAM, 2010)

There can be no doubt in saying this that the use of virtual reality has now increased to a great extent than the time when it was introduced initially, all over the world. Given below is a graph showing an increase in the use of virtual reality over the period of years. (Google images, 2010)

CONCLUSION:

Virtual reality can be described as one of the most important inventions of the modern world. Initially when computer was invented, it did not have much uses. With time, many improvements were made and computer started taking an important place at offices, homes and industries. Development of internet was a remarkable addition and it made the computer a necessity for every work place as well as homes. Likewise virtual reality was developed initially with a very basic knowledge. But now, it has started taking an important place at many work places especially those professions which are related to computer and technology. Still studies are being carried out in order to make further improvements in it, and we can predict its importance in the upcoming time mainly because of the reason that the virtual reality enables a person to visit any place or environment where it is sometimes practically impossible to go in person. One can visit the internal body, the space, the molecular structures, deep sea, buildings, sky, planets or whatever one can think of. Science is amazing and the computer world is giving the mankind an experience of a totally new world which could not be imagined some decades back.

Thus, virtual reality can be easily described as one of those inventions of science, which carry a great elasticity in them and with the research work going on in this field, we can hope to get even better results expected to bring great changes in almost every field using computer technology.

Virtual reality is one of the modern technologies which was introduced a few decades back and has taken an important place in the field of technology in a very short time. it makes use of an artificial environment generated by the computer in which simulates the real environment. Besides gaining an immediate acceptance in the world of computer games, it is now being used in many fields of life including architecture, medicine, military and aviation. Scientists and researchers are expecting to explore a lot in this modern technology than what we know about it today. It is a great leap in the field of 3D and a lot of work is still under progress. The discussion below is an insight into the details of this technology, its uses, advantages, disadvantages and social impacts.

The term virtual reality refers to refers to a modern technology providing an immersive, interactive experience using the three dimensional computer based graphic images. This technology creates an artificial environment with the help of computer hardware and software and is presented to the user in way which simulates the real world.

The equipment makes use of a pair of special gloves, ear phones and goggles, the three of them being controlled by the computer. In this way, three of the user’s five senses are receiving and input from the computer. The goggles also act by detecting the eye movements of the user, thereby monitoring his actions.

ORIGIN:

The idea of virtual reality was first presented in 1930s, when the first fight simulator was invented by the scientists for the purpose of training the pilots. This was in an attempt to prepare them for the actual flight environment before being able to fly a real fighter plane.

The invention got improvement in 1965, when Ivan Sutherland, an American, presented his theory of developing a portable virtual world using two tiny television sets, one meant for each eye. His invention worked, but to a very basic level. The images were rough and not clear. Another problem was the weight of the helmet used. It was quite heavy and needed to be supported from the ceiling.

But the idea has actually got its base and now needed to be improved. Scientist continued working on this idea until in 1985, Michael McGreevy, from NASA introduced a much improved version of virtual reality. It was light weighted, using motorcycle helmet with mini display screens. It was also provided with the special sensors which were used to detect movements with the help of sensitive computer technology.

Finally, during 1986, the invention got its final touch when a computer games programmer named Jaron Lanier introduced a new glove for virtual reality. In this way took the modern form in which we look it today. (Virtual Reality, 2004)

TYPES OF VIRTUAL REALITY:

There are three main types of virtual reality technology:

The first one uses a helmet, ear phones and a pair of special gloves or joy sticks controlled by a computer and assisted by special sound effects and graphic images.

The second one makes use of the video cameras. These cameras track the image of the participant in an artificially created virtual world. The participant can even move the objects in this world using virtual technology.

The third type makes use of the three dimensional images. The screen used is shaped in a curve. This makes the images closer to the real world. (Nigel W. John, Joanna Leng (2001).

CATEGORIES:

There are six categories in which virtual reality can be displayed:

Desktop displays,

Head-mounted displays,

Arm-mounted displays,

Single screen displays,

Surround screen displays and

Volumetric displays. (Nigel W. John, Joanna Leng (2001).

The head mounted displays are among the most widely used displays for virtual reality. In this device, a pair of display screens is placed right in front of the user’s eyes. These screens are attached to a helmet which the user wears.

The arm mounted displays resemble a pair of binoculars mounted on an articulated arm. The user visualizes the virtual world by means of lenses. His virtual environment is controlled by his movements at an arm’s length and range of motion.

Single screen displays use the Immersive Workbench products. These products mostly make use of a tabletop metaphor where the virtual objects give an impression of lying on the table top.

Other types of single screen displays make use of a window metaphor. In this kind of display the image seems to be appearing in a large window opened into a virtual space.

Another sort of display is known as CAVE, where the viewer sees the images in the form of multiple screens surrounding him as if he is present inside a large cube. The viewer can explore the virtual world by moving inside the cube. (Nigel W. John, Joanna Leng (2001).

USES:

Virtual reality is now being used in many professions including architecture, meteorology, military, medical and molecular studies.

1. Architecture. Virtual reality has been now used for long in the field of architecture. It has been used to establish the models of buildings before the construction is started. It has also proved to be helpful to determine how a building may have collapsed and to provide improvements in reconstructing a damaged building.

2. Weather Forecast. Virtual reality has also been used in the weather forecast profession by simulating the images with the data collected from the satellites and radars.

3. Military Training. Now virtual reality has officially been declared a part of the U.S military training. They make use of the environments created using virtual reality in whole rooms where soldiers are provided different experiences. These include the war fields as well as different exercises.

4. Cancer Chemotherapy. Another remarkable use of virtual reality in medical field is as a treatment for the cancer patients. Chemotherapy is a painful procedure for most of the patients, yet it is necessary as many malignant cancers can’t be treated but their progression can be stopped by the chemotherapy treatment.

It has been shown that if the chemotherapy is provided to these patients while they indulge themselves in some activity using virtual world, the pain felt is quite less that that experienced without it. Many chemotherapy centers are now making use of this technology.

It is especially true in case of children suffering with cancerous lesions requiring chemotherapy. They feel the procedure less painful if they are allowed to play games or perform any other activity using virtual world and receiving the chemotherapy at the same time.

Researchers explain this by the fact that three of the user’s senses become occupied while using the virtual world. These include, vision, hearing and touch. Thus the brain is actually distracted from the painful event being carried out.

Images also play quite an important role in this treatment. The patient is given the option to select any image of his/her choice, like walking on a beach, or visiting an art gallery or performing deep sea diving etc.

5. Molecular Biology. The molecular biology is also making use of virtual reality in order to study the molecular and cellular structures. It enables the scientists to visit small sections of a molecule and study its properties.

6. Medical Studies. Virtual reality is now being used in medical studies as well. By using virtual reality, the medical students and even doctors can learn complex medical procedures without risking anyone’s life.

In medical field virtual reality has been used in diagnosing various diseases using the images provided by other scans and then merging them using medical technology. (eHow, 2010)

7. Driving Lessons. In many countries now virtual reality has been used for driving tests as well. Apart from the actual on-road driving test, the candidates have to take a virtual reality based driving test as well which simulates the real environment.

8. Disabled Children. Virtual reality has also proven itself to be a blessing for the disabled children. A child who a wheel chair for moving needs around can gain an insight of many of the places which he cannot otherwise visit. He can select the images or environment of choice and go to the virtual world for flight, diving, walking, fighting, driving or many other activities. In this regard it is a great blessing for the bed ridden or wheel chair bound children or individuals. (itgs, 2010)

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES:

The main advantages of virtual reality are as follows:

Virtual reality provides the diverse types of data available in instant forms.

It provides images from many different points of views.

It is able to demonstrate the non-visible data to the user like in case of geochemistry.

Allows a person to ‘visit’ the places normally inaccessible to individuals.

Provides an experience which can be repeated and revised.

It can cover the education and knowledge related to almost all fields of life. Even children as well as adults can get benefit from it.

It provides information in an interesting manner preventing the user from getting bored. (Weili Qiu, Tom Hubble, 2006).

Virtual Reality 9

A remarkable research being carried out now a day is an attempt to make virtual reality usable by the blind persons in order to enable them to face the real world challenges using modern technology.

Although the development of a virtual world can be considered as a great leap in the modern technology, yet a lot needs to be still done in this field. Given below is a chart displaying the possible harmful health effects of virtual reality:

(Bing Images, 2010).

The progress may be considered as slow mainly because of its complex technology. Other disadvantages include:

This technique uses the computer visualization and digital techniques, yet it does not present the true three dimensional natures of objects.

Although it is very close to reality, yet is unable to provide the feelings of touch, smell etc.

It is still not as beneficial as being really in a field.

Visiting a website using virtual reality is difficult and hindered by many factors like the network access, load on network and number of connections etc.

Many websites accessed using virtual reality are ephemeral and not permanent.

Yet needs much improvement regarding the teaching environment.

The user may get lost over different websites, thereby increasing the problem of time management. (Weili Qiu, Tom Hubble, 2006).

Some users complain of nausea and vomiting by an excessive and continuous use of virtual reality technology.

CAN VIRTUAL WORLD ‘REPLACE’ THE REAL EXPERIENCE?

Virtual world is although quite close to the real world yet it is still unable to ‘replace’ the feelings of a real world. As an example, the virtual reality technology is now being used for military training as well. But a soldier actually knows that he is not going to get any harm from any bullet coming from an unknown origin or a surprising attack. These feelings can only be experienced while being in an actual war field where all of a soldier’s instincts are fully active in order to prevent him from any unknown danger, as he knows that it is real and he can even loose his life if he gets distracted from this actual environment. (Science Clarified, 2010)

Similarly, it was found many years back that the pilots trained by using the flight simulators make mistakes while flying the actual plane. This occurs because of the actual differences found between the virtual and the real world. As for example, a flight simulator is unable to present the affects of simulation that a pilot feels during an actual flight. Thus, when he gets into a real flight, he faces confusion while experiencing the new sensation. Yet, this is a temporary problem and is resolved by allowing the pilots trained by flight simulators to fly a plane, only after twenty four hours have passed.

These problems are although temporary, but they have raised questions about whether a long term use of virtual reality able to bring about permanent changes, especially in children, whose brains are still under developing stage and can easily be modified as compared to the grown ups. Some psychologists believe that a long term and frequent use of virtual reality is going to change the way, people are used to perceive the real world.

According to some psychiatrists, a prolonged use of virtual world can make people avoid real life problems instead of trying to solve them.

WORLDWIDE ACCEPTANCE:

Although virtual reality technology can be still described to be in its initial stages, yet there are now about 61,000 commercial companies all over the world which are using the virtual reality technology to produce different products.

Even at this basic stage, now virtual reality has become a part of the educational training at about 3,600 educational institutes all over the world. (authorSTREAM, 2010)

There can be no doubt in saying this that the use of virtual reality has now increased to a great extent than the time when it was introduced initially, all over the world. Given below is a graph showing an increase in the use of virtual reality over the period of years. (Google images, 2010)

CONCLUSION:

Virtual reality can be described as one of the most important inventions of the modern world. Initially when computer was invented, it did not have much uses. With time, many improvements were made and computer started taking an important place at offices, homes and industries. Development of internet was a remarkable addition and it made the computer a necessity for every work place as well as homes. Likewise virtual reality was developed initially with a very basic knowledge. But now, it has started taking an important place at many work places especially those professions which are related to computer and technology. Still studies are being carried out in order to make further improvements in it, and we can predict its importance in the upcoming time mainly because of the reason that the virtual reality enables a person to visit any place or environment where it is sometimes practically impossible to go in person. One can visit the internal body, the space, the molecular structures, deep sea, buildings, sky, planets or whatever one can think of. Science is amazing and the computer world is giving the mankind an experience of a totally new world which could not be imagined some decades back.

Thus, virtual reality can be easily described as one of those inventions of science, which carry a great elasticity in them and with the research work going on in this field, we can hope to get even better results expected to bring great changes in almost every field using computer technology.

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