Virtual Reality Research Paper

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  • Topic: Virtual reality, Simulated reality, Augmented reality
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  • Published : February 6, 2011
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Virtual Reality and Its Impact on Society

Joseph D. Cotrell

Valerie Schroeder

INF 103, Computer Literary

Virtual Reality and Its Impact on Society

Technology has transformed people’s perception of the world by either creating new environments for them to traverse, or by providing them passage to corners of the earth they will never otherwise visit in their entire lifetimes. Technology has put to reality what people in the past could only dream of. Virtual reality, briefly defined as an environment that is computer-simulated, has transcended social and geographical barriers ever since its applications have been increasingly used by everyday people. Social and geographical barriers are just terms of the past and do not anymore apply on the strictest sense. Everyone can be anyone online. Whereas before it was limited only to labyrinth and high-cost applications availed of by expert users, virtual reality has now broadened its breadth to encompass the general public – which optimizes the Internet to configure, share and create virtual communities – benefitting society in the areas of education, law enforcement, medicine and industries.

Defining Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is an environment, which is computer-simulated, and the simulation could be that of an imaginary world, or a real one (Gajera, n.d.). Virtual reality environments are mainly three-dimensional “visual experiences” that are “displayed either on a screener through special or stereoscopic displays,” and enhanced by sensory information such as sounds that emanate from headphones or speakers (Gajera, n.d., p. 3). There are modern applications that provide force feedback or tactile information, which are generally used for gaming and medical applications. To experience this, multi-modal devices such as the omni directional treadmill, the Polhemus boom arm, or a wired glove is used, as in Figure 1 at Appendix Page (Gajera, n.d.). Michael R. Heim, in his book entitled, “The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality,” has named seven applications of virtual reality: network communication, full-body immersion, telepresence, immersion, artificiality, interaction and simulation (Gajera, n.d.).

In light of these, a virtual environment may be defined as a digital space in which a user’s activities are monitored, and “his or her surroundings rendered, or digitally composed and displayed to the senses, in accordance with” those activities (Fox, Arena & Bailenson, 2009, p. 95). According to Jesse Fox, Dylan Arena, and Jeremy N. Bailenson, the critical element of the most fascinating virtual reality experiences is the hindering real, sensory impressions; a user’s senses are engaged in the virtual world, with the body consigned to a reality engine, as in Figure 1 at Appendix Page (Fox, Arena & Bailenson, 2009, p. 95).

Technically, the virtual reality system uses both software and hardware which allow developers to produce virtual reality systems (Riva, 2009). The hardware elements are equipments, such as the central processing unit, the monitor, and other peripheral tools that receive inputs coming from devices that are manipulated by the user, and sends “multi-sensory output” to generate an imagery of a virtual world (Riva, 2009, p. 337). Meanwhile, the software element of a virtual reality system does not really create the virtual world. Rather, there is a separate software which projects the virtual world through the use of the virtual reality software system (Riva, 2009, p. 337). Hence, a virtual reality system is made up of a graphic rendering system, a “database construction and virtual object modeling software” and the input and output tools (Riva, 2009).

The Impact of Virtual Reality on Society

Virtual Reality has taken the world by storm, and is now tagged as the next dominant technological development. In the same way as the Internet, virtual reality was created for a...
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