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Virtual Reality - What it is and How it Works

Uploaded by Admin on Jan 22, 1999

Imagine being able to point into the sky and fly. Or perhaps walk through space and connect molecules together. These are some of the dreams that have come with the invention of virtual reality. With the introduction of computers, numerous applications have been enhanced or created. The newest technology that is being tapped is that of artificial reality, or "virtual reality" (VR). When Morton Heilig first got a patent for his "Sensorama Simulator" in 1962, he had no idea that 30 years later people would still be trying to simulate reality and that they would be doing it so effectively. Jaron Lanier first coined the phrase "virtual reality" around 1989, and it has stuck ever since. Unfortunately, this catchy name has caused people to dream up incredible uses for this technology including using it as a sort of drug. This became evident when, among other people, Timothy Leary became interested in VR. This has also worried some of the researchers who are trying to create very real applications for medical, space, physical, chemical, and entertainment uses among other things. In order to create this alternate reality, however, you need to find ways to create the illusion of reality with a piece of machinery known as the computer. This is done with several computer-user interfaces used to simulate the senses. Among these, are stereoscopic glasses to make the simulated world look real, a 3D auditory display to give depth to sound, sensor lined gloves to simulate tactile feedback, and head-trackers to follow the orientation of the head. Since the technology is fairly young, these interfaces have not been perfected, making for a somewhat cartoonish simulated reality. Stereoscopic vision is probably the most important feature of VR because in real life, people rely mainly on vision to get places and do things. The eyes are approximately 6.5 centimeters apart, and allow you to have a full-colour, three-dimensional view of the world. Stereoscopy, in itself, is not a very new idea, but the new twist is trying to generate completely new images in real- time. In 1933, Sir Charles Wheatstone invented the first stereoscope with the same basic principle being used in today's head-mounted displays. Presenting different views to each eye gives the illusion of three dimensions. The glasses that are used today work by using what is called an "electronic shutter". The lenses of the glasses interleave the left-eye and right-eye views...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   01/22/1999

Category:   Technology

Length:   14 pages (3,226 words)

Views:   1595

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